Commuting 101: Make Eye Contact

A huge issue for bike commuters is being seen by drivers on the road. Lot’s of times since they’ve trained themselves only to look for big metal boxes, they can look right at you and not even have it register that you’re there.

Making eye contact with a driver is essential in keeping you safe on the road. It let’s you know that the driver realizes you are there and that you can pass safely.

While I’m sure there are more, here are a couple situations that it’s imperative that you make eye contact with drivers:

  • Left turns across your lane – When you see a car in oncoming traffic slowing down to make a left turn across your path.
  • Pulling out of driveways, parking lots and side streets – This is the most necessary place to make sure you have eye contact. In to many cases the drivers are in a hurry and merely do a quick glance for other cars and then pull swiftly into traffic.

And here’s some tips on how to get the driver’s attention and make eye contact:

  • Slow down – Assume the driver is not going to see you and slow down. Don’t cross their path until you have eye contact. This saved my ass one time.
  • Go aroundIf you’re on the sidewalk, you can slow down and circle around behind the car in most cases.
  • Stare – You know how you can be in a big, crowded room but easily realize if somebody is staring at you from a distance? This works on the road as well. Stare a hole through the driver and many cases, as they scan for cars, they’ll notice you and make eye contact.
  • Wave your hands – Similar to staring, this will easily get a drivers a attention. If you’re going at a pretty good clip and are hoping you won’t have to slow down, try waving your hands long before to make sure the driver sees you. I’ve tried this by waving wildly and merely waving as if I’m saying ‘hello’ to the driver, and both work really well.

Making eye contact with drivers is an essential part of staying safe on the road.

Do you have any other tips for making eye contact on your bike commute?

Photo Credit: Jef Poskanzer

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