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Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Comment On How Riding Formations Keep Riders Safe

Motorcycle RidersMost people out on the road have seen large groups of motorcycles riding together. They also may have noticed that they generally stay together as a group and actually have a formation that they follow. These formations are not by accident and are organized to keep all the riders safe from both accidents related to collisions between riders as well as improve visibility for other vehicles on the road.

Anatomy Of A Group Formation

For group rides, motorcycle “packs” will have a ride leader and a drag or sweep rider that brings up the rear. The idea is for these two riders to encompass the group and make sure they communicate if there are any problems ahead or with any of the group members.

Within the group, the riders will generally ride in what is referred to as a staggered formation. Imagine that the lane of the road is divided in half, making two lanes for bikes. The leader will start in the left half of the lane; the rider behind him will be in the right half of the lane, the third rider on the left again, and so on. Riders never should be riding abreast or side by side. This gives them no room to swerve or maneuver if there is an obstacle on the road. That is why most groups will always be in this staggered formation.


Riders need to have enough space between them and the person in front of them to be safe, however, the group as a whole wants to stay as close together as possible. The general rule is each rider will be 2-3 second behind the person in front of them in their half of the lane. This means when they see the rider ahead pass a stationary object, they can count no more than 3 seconds before they pass the object. This gives enough time for riders to be able to maneuver but keeps the group tightly together so they do not get separated.

Passing And Curves

There are circumstances that the group will get temporarily get out of the staggered formation. In the case of a curve, riders will get in a single line formation. This is done so riders have room to navigate the turn in the center of the road if needed.

When passing other vehicles on the road, groups should be doing this on bike at a time. The leader will pass and get back in the left lead position. Then the next rider will pass once there is room behind the leader and the car they are passing. Once all the riders in the group have passed, the group should be the same formation they were before they passed.


Group riders need to be able to communicate between the members, especially the lead rider and the drag or sweep rider. Some groups will use a CB radio to send messages back and forth. This can be to warn of issues ahead or for the drag rider to tell the leader if they need to pull off to help a group member.

Hand signals often are used to communicate, especially by the lead rider. If there is an obstruction ahead or a curve, the lead rider may put up one finger to let the riders know behind him to get into single formation. Two fingers up signals to get back into staggered formation.

Riding in a formation is designed for the safety of the entire group. When encountering a group of motorcycles on the road, try to allow them to stay together and not break up the group. Cutting into a group of bikes puts them at danger and increases the chance that an accident may happen.

Injured During A Motorcycle Ride?

If you are a motorcyclist injured during a group ride, you may have legal rights against other motorists or even your fellow riders. As motorcycle accident lawyers in Chicago, we have successfully represented injured cyclists and their passengers in a variety of fact patterns. Given that many motorcycle collisions are a result of a convergence of factors, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney before you talk to any insurance company representatives. Our attorneys are available for both telephone and in-person consultations when the need arises.  Don’t go it alone!