Over the years I've told people that I am convinced motorcycling has made me a safer driver. I explain that tricks and skills I've learned or developed while riding also have application when driving in a four wheeler.
The examples are many and varied. To note just a few:
I've ridden with many people who, when the stoplight turns green, just press down the accelerator and go - not thinking for a moment to look both ways first to make sure a vehicle isn't about to run through the intersection against the red. It's quite common for cars to continue against the red for one or two seconds after the light turned red for them. A practice I force myself to follow every time I'm at a stoplight on my bike is to never just pull out on a green light, but to Always look both ways to ensure no one is sailing through the intersection. This practice has definitely saved my life on at least two occasions (both times in a 4-wheeler), once when a delivery truck roared through at the point I would have been had I nonchalantly pulled away, and another time a large SUV ran the light a couple seconds after it turned, and if I had immediately accelerated we would have met in the middle.
There are many other applications and skills: Always maintaining adequate stopping and maneuvering distance, even if it means jerks slipping in between you and the vehicle in front of you - if this happens you drop back a bit to always maintain a safety cushion on all sides; never ever assuming the other driver is going to do what they're supposed to do - assume the exact opposite - it'll help keep you out of trouble; never assume the other driver sees you - assume they don't - you'll live longer; keep track of all vehicles in your area of concern and monitor what they're doing; never stay in another vehicle's blind spot for more than the second or two it takes to pass them; never ride next to an 18-wheeler - I've had two big rig tires explode next to my car, I don't want it to happen when I'm on a bike so if I must get next to a truck I make that interval absolutely as short as possible; when stopping for a light or stop sign, always leave some room between you and the vehicle ahead of you for maneuvering capability; when stopped, leave your vehicle in gear for a quick escape; and when stopped, watch you mirrors - danger is going to come from behind when you're stopped.
These last three were put into practice without conscious thought yesterday and thus I'm here and healthy enough to write about it today (though quite sore!).
Driving my Ford Escape on a busy 4-lane highway, stopped at a red light. Out of habit I had a few feet between me and the car ahead. I glance in the rear view mirror and see an SUV heading for me at full speed, the driver obviously unaware that I'm stopped just ahead. I know there is no way he will be able to stop, so I turn the wheels toward the center turn lane, take my foot off the brake and immediately begin accelerating just as he crashed into me. It all occurred in a second at the most. By following the 3 rules above I was able to reduce the impact of the collision, I ended up in open space as opposed to sandwiched into the vehicle in front of me which would have been the typical sudden violent acceleration from being hit from behind, followed a tenth of a second later by the sudden stop, with head slamming into steering wheel or whatever, when I slammed into the vehicle in front of me.
By following these defensive riding practices, which must become second nature so a person always does them, I turned what would have been a very bad incident into a survivable one - the outcome difference was significant.
Ride and drive safe, as if everyone is out to get you - because in reality, they are!