Riding a motorcycle is a complex endeavor that requires concentration and constant awareness. Motorcyclists need to anticipate what other drivers might do; a sudden lunge from a car driver could be a dangerous obstacle.
Experienced riders know to observe traffic laws; this includes obeying stop signs and speed limits. They also recognize that other drivers might not see them and take measures accordingly.
Wear a Helmet
Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s also dangerous. Many accidents involving motorcyclists result in serious injuries or even death. Wearing a helmet is one of the most important things you can do to stay safe while riding a motorcycle.
Make sure your helmet fits you properly and doesn’t leave more than two fingers space between your brow and your temples. A good helmet should be DOT and Snell approved. Also, choose brightly colored gear that makes you easier to see in traffic. Many drivers who get into collisions with motorcyclists claim they didn’t see them. Avoid tailgating and leave a large distance between you and other vehicles.
Wear the Right Gear
The right gear includes an abrasion resistant jacket and pants with armor, gloves, and boots, even in summer. Jeans and a T-shirt won’t protect you from the wind chill, bugs, or road rash if you slide out.
Experienced riders are careful to maintain a safe distance between themselves and cars, trucks and other vehicles. They also pay attention to their own blind spots and ride defensively to make sure they get to their destination safely.
Car drivers should pay attention to motorcycles as well, and double-check their mirrors before changing lanes or exiting side streets. Most multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles are caused by other drivers failing to see the motorcycle.
Know Your Bike
When you’re riding a motorcycle, you must pay attention to the details of your vehicle. You have to be able to process a lot of information at once, react quickly and respond appropriately to hazards on the road. This is why it’s important to know your bike well and practice with a friend who is also a rider.
It’s important to practice maneuvering your bike in proximity to cars at slow speeds. You need to be able to see in other drivers’ blind spots and understand how to safely navigate intersections. Practice taking a turn by marking off a practice area, entering a turn and then braking at maximum safe braking pressure while straightening the bike.
Don’t Distract Others
While distracted driving is dangerous for any motorist, it can be particularly deadly to motorcyclists. Cell phones, GPS devices, texting and emailing, as well as chatting with passengers can all distract riders to the point of losing control of their bike.
It is important for riders to develop a mix of aggressive and defensive riding skills. Riders should learn to always check their mirrors and leave plenty of space between them and other vehicles. They should also make sure they are visible to drivers and that their helmets don’t obscure their faces.
In addition, they should practice identifying collision traps on the road and possible escape paths in advance of them. This includes checking the horizon for road hazards such as gravel, wet leaves, or bumps that could cause a rider to skid unexpectedly.
Be Prepared for Rain
Rain is one of the biggest challenges that motorcyclists face. Even a light rain can significantly reduce rider traction on the road.
During the first few minutes of a rain storm, oil and dirt on the roadway will wash away making it especially slippery. If possible, ride in the track left by the tires of traffic in front of you to take advantage of drier conditions.
It’s important to be prepared for rain, not just as a rider but as a passenger as well. Be sure to have appropriate rain gear, including goggles or face shields that won’t fog up. It’s also important to wear bright or reflective clothing so that other drivers can see you.
Be Prepared for Traffic
Unless you’re riding on a long stretch of open road, traffic is going to be part of your daily motorcycle ride. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and be ready to brake or swerve at any time.
Many accidents involving motorcyclists are caused by other drivers not seeing them. Avoid this by always being visible, staying out of vehicle blind spots and keeping within sight of their rearview mirrors; by driving with the headlights on, even during daylight hours; and by scanning your path of travel for escape routes at all times. Always act like you’re invisible to other drivers. It could save your life.