Space Management

Placeholder Georgia Other Regulations

It is extremely important to maintain an adequate “cushion of space” between vehicles.

Increasing the distance between vehicles will provide you with:

  • Time to react.
  • Space to maneuver.

A responsible rider recognizes that time and space is the best protection against potential hazards.

Lane Positions

Use the whole width of the lane to help other roadway users see you better.

In some ways the size of the motorcycle can work to your advantage. Each traffic lane gives a motorcycle three paths of travel, as indicated in the illustration.

Your lane position should:

  • Increase your ability to see and be seen.
  • Avoid others’ blind spots.
  • Avoid surface hazards.
  • Protect your lane from other drivers.
  • Communicate your intentions.
  • Avoid wind blast from other vehicles.
  • Provide an escape route.

In general, there is no single best position for you to be seen and to maintain a space cushion around the motorcycle. No portion of the lane need be avoided – including the center, if weather and roadway conditions permit.

Position yourself in the portion of the lane where you are most likely to be seen and you can maintain a space cushion around you. Move from one side of the lane to another to increase your distance from other vehicles. A responsible rider changes position as traffic situations change. Ride in path 2 or 3 if vehicles or other potential hazards are on your left. Remain in path 1 or 2 if hazards are on your right. If vehicles are present on both sides of you, the center of the lane, path 2, is usually your best option.

The oily strip in the center portion that collects drippings from cars is usually no more than 2 feet wide. Unless the road is wet, the average center strip permits adequate traction to ride on safely. You can operate to the left or right of the oily strip and still be within the center portion of the traffic lane. Avoid riding on big buildups of oil and grease usually found at busy intersections or toll booths.

Following Another Vehicle

Motorcycles need as much distance to stop as cars. It is recommended that new motorcycle operators try to maintain a minimum four- second following distance behind the vehicle ahead. This allows you space to stop, swerve, and keep a reasonable space cushion.

A larger cushion of space is needed if your motorcycle will take longer than normal to stop. For example, if you are riding 40 mph or more, if the pavement is slippery, if you cannot see through the vehicle ahead, or if traffic is heavy and someone may squeeze in front of you, open up a five second or more following distance.

Keep well behind the vehicle ahead even when you are stopped. This will make it easier to get out of the way if someone behind you is not slowing down. It will also give you a cushion of space if the vehicle ahead starts to back up for some reason.

To gauge your following distance:

  • Pick out a marker, such as a pavement marking, sign, pole or other stationary point, on or near the road ahead.
  • When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count off the seconds: “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three, one-thousand-four.”
  • If you reach the marker before you reach “four,” you are following too closely.
  • Reduce speed and then count again at another stationary point to check the new following interval. Repeat until you are following no closer than “four-seconds.”

Being Followed

Speeding up to lose someone following too closely only ends up with someone tailgating you at a higher speed.

A better way to handle tailgaters is to get them in front of you. When someone is following too closely, change lanes and let them pass. If you can’t do this, slow down and open up extra space ahead of you to allow room for both you and the tailgater to stop. This will also encourage them to pass. If they don’t pass, you will have given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to react in case an emergency does develop ahead.

Lane Sharing

Vehicles and motorcycles need a full lane to operate safely. Do not share lanes with other vehicles. Lane sharing can leave you vulnerable to the unexpected and reduces your space cushion. You should ride in a staggered formation when following other motorcycles. Position the motorcycle in the center of the travel lane, if weather and roadway conditions permit, to discourage motorists from attempting to squeeze by the motorcycle. Do not ride between rows of stopped or moving motor vehicles. This can be dangerous.

Merging Vehicles

Do not assume that drivers merging on an entrance ramp will see you. Minimize the potential for danger by giving them plenty of room. Change lanes if one is open. If there is no room for a lane change, adjust speed to open up space for the merging driver.

Vehicles Alongside

Avoid riding in the blind spot of a vehicle. Responsible riders recognize that vehicles traveling in the adjacent lane may unexpectedly change direction forcing the rider into a potentially dangerous situation. Vehicles in the next lane also block your escape if you come upon a hazard in your own lane. Adjust your speed until a proper and adequate space cushion has been established between vehicles.