Whether you are a seasoned rider or a newbie motorcyclist, your safety is of great concern. After all, motorcycles are great fun and can fuel efficient in different ways that you can only imagine. For experienced motorcyclists, that is not news and for a newcomer in the world of motorbike riding, that can cause some adrenaline running down the spinal code. But there is one common factor existing between these two groups of individuals and this is the dangers that come with motorcycling.
The harsh reality is that motorcyclists, whether, experienced or learners, are 30 times more likely to sustain fatal injuries or even die in an accident than those driving cars. While you are still pondering on that, you also need to know that nearly half the number of deaths resulting from motorcycle accidents involves single-vehicle crashes.
The number of deaths resulting from motorcycle accidents is even alarming among older riders. This emerging trend is attributed to older riders’ slower reflexes, their more brittle bones, weaker eyesight, and many other disadvantages. In fact, motorcyclists who are 60 years and older are three times more likely to get hospitalized after an accident than young ones.
All these and other shocking statistics should not be reasons to stop you from doing what you enjoying the most. Apparently, many motorcycle enthusiasts still enjoy riding even now without sustaining injuries. You too can join that league of such experienced motorcycle riders without any fear of getting involved in fatal crashes. But there is a secret to achieving that near-impossible feat in the world where motorcycle accidents are the order of the day.
That being said, the key to achieving your goal is to be fully prepared adequately and avoiding any risks. Keep in mind that most of the accidents involving motorbikes are as a result of over speeding and riding under the influence of alcohol among other factors. Below is a comprehensive list of helpful tips that you can use to make your motorcycle riding safer and enjoyable.
1. Always wear the right motorbike gear
T-shirts, tight jeans and sandals should be a no go zone if you truly care about your safety. These type of attires are a recipe for a painful disaster while on a motorcycle. To avoid fatal injuries in case of a crash, it is a sound idea to look for the right gear that is designed primarily for motorcycle riders. Besides protecting you against injuries, this gear can as well protect you against flying objects, debris, and wind chills.
For maximum protection, you should settle for leather or reinforced jacket, full pants, gloves and over the ankle footwear. All these attires can help you not only in winter but in summer as well.
There are specially designed jackets that come complete with breathable mesh materials and rugged padding to give you protection and ventilation while riding your motorcycle in any weather condition. Also, you need effective eye protection to ensure that your eyes are protected throughout while enhancing your visibility. In this case, don’t rely on your bike’s windscreen or eyeglasses but rather use goggles or a helmet visor. Most significantly, choose a brighter gear to enable other motorists to see you clearly in case of poor visibility on the road.
2. Trust your mirrors, but not all the time
There is a reason why mirrors are available on your motorcycle. They are not just there for beauty or to complement the design of your motorbike but to enhance your safety while riding along. These simple accessories can be lifesavers in most cases although experts advise you not to rely on them entirely. The main reason for not depending on your bike’s mirror is that they don’t always give you the right information even when they are adjusted properly.
It is always advisable to check once more by glancing over your shoulder to know if the images generated from your bike’s mirror are not deceiving you. But make sure you that you glance over your shoulders quickly keeping in mind that your motorcycle is moving faster and that you need to concentrate more on what lies ahead. By doing so, you will help in adding an extra safety measure of your bike’s rear view as well as blind-spot knowledge to your information gathering tasks.
3. Be on the defensive side
A recent study carried out by the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research showed that when collisions involving a car and motorcycle occur, chances are the car drivers will be at fault 60% in most cases. This information should tell you that you need to stay alert all the time especially in this era where the use of handheld devices like phones has become an epidemic.
Stay awake and fully aware of cars when they are changing lanes and pulling out from either side of the streets. In addition to that, you should ensure that you maintain a reasonable distance between your motorcycle and the car ahead of you just in case of an emergency stop. This will give you enough reaction time to avoid colliding with obstacles or even the car that is in front of you. Remember that objects a car can easily straddle could be dangerous for you when riding your motorcycle.
4. Take your ride to an open zone
Take full advantage of your motorbike’s maneuverability and power to ride it in the open zones when you are in traffic. You may do so by taking a look around to find an easy escape route that will take you to the next available open space. This is quite practical where there are groupings of cars and other types of vehicles leaving some gaps in-between them.
Find these spaces and ride in them as a way of separating yourself from four-wheelers. On top of that, these gaps give you enough room for you to maneuver in order to keep yourself safe from dangerous blind-spots on the road. Often times many riders have found themselves in dangerous situations by riding their motorbikes along with the flow. This is actually dangerous given that it can render you invisible to the rest of other road users especially when riding in heavy traffic.
5. Get ready to roll
Before you even get onto your motorcycle in preparation to a ride, ensure that everything on your bike is functioning optimally. Just do a quick check prior to your ride by walking around your motorcycle to make sure that the horn, lights and the directional signals are in good working condition.
Proceed further to have a look at the chain, brakes, and belt or shaft. Do a thorough inspection of the tires to establish elements of tear and wear while ensuring that they are set at their proper pressure levels. Most of the motorcycle mechanics will tell you that one of the major causes of accidents is the improperly inflated tires and worn out brakes. These two parts on your motorbike can have a great impact on your safety.
6. Try to avoid bad weather by all means
Bad weather can make roads impassable or slippery, which in turn can have an effect on your margin for errors. If you are a seasoned rider, you can attest to the fact that the rains have a tendency of reducing visibility as well as the grip of your motorbike tires. This is a tricky situation whereby you may not be able to negotiate corners properly unless you risk causing an accident.
It doesn’t imply that riding in the rain is impossible for everyone, but it means that you need to be cautious all along. However, riding in the rain can be dangerous in one way or the other. And this happens quite often immediately after precipitation starts. This is the time water causes oil residue on the road to rise and make the road slippery. Once the road becomes slippery, you cannot maneuver properly and any slight changes in your speed can become fatal on your side.
To stay safe in such a situation, you will need to slow down and be gentle with the throttle, brakes, and steering in order to avoid sliding. In addition to that, you will have to ride carefully in strong winds and if possible stay proactive in the anticipation of potential push coming from the side of the strong winds. Also, you will have to move your motorcycle to the sides of the lane where the winds are coming from so you may get some leeway in your lane just in case.
7. Hone your motorcycle riding skills
If possible, find the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (or MSF Course) riding course within your area and use it to improve your riding skills. This is absolutely critical for anyone looking to acquire basic skills and advanced techniques like how to perform evasive emergency maneuvers and so on. If you are lucky enough, you can get a free course or part with a few dollars to acquire these helpful skills.
Most importantly, any approved motorcycle riding course can help you to become eligible for a discount on your insurance premiums. This course can place you above other riders and you may stand a chance of being exempted from taking a written or road test as part of the process involving the acquisition of a license. Above all, you will have the right skills to make you safe while using your motorcycle.
8. Purchase anti-lock brakes
Anti-lock brakes have been proven to be effective in saving the lives of many motorcyclists. These accessories are available in various models and you can find them in your local stores. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data, those motorcycles that are fully equipped with the anti-lock brakes (ABS brakes) were 37% less likely to get involved in a fatal accident than those without.
Regardless of your experience in riding, anti-lock brakes can be more effective than you when it comes to braking. Why is the case? When you lock brakes in a moment of panic you can take away all your steering control leaving you helpless and at risk of crashing your motorbike. Such incidences can easily cause a skid as well as a crash, leading to serious injuries in the process.
With the right anti-lock brakes such as ABS, you can easily retain your steering control in case of an emergency stop. This can also be helpful especially when you are riding in slippery conditions. Luckily, this critical feature has eventually become a necessity for most of the high-end motorcycle models that you can come across on the market today. Just add a few dollars to the actual price of the more basic motorbikes and you are good to go. In essence, this is a worthwhile investment as far as your safety is concerned.
9. Make sure that you are noticed by everyone on the road
While riding your motorcycle, ensure that you are visible by everyone on the road for safety reasons. To achieve this feat, you need to ride while your high beam is on even during the day.
But be courteous enough to turn it off whenever you notice someone behind you especially at a light. Additionally, make it a habit of dressing in brightly colored safety gear such as the helmet and jacket. A good example of such safety gear is the Hi-Vis yellow jackets and suits which have lately become not only conspicuous but also a fashionable trend among motorcycle riders.
10. Practice the scan
Scanning and being aware of your immediate environment while riding your motorbike is one of the safety tips every motorcyclist should know. The scanning, however, should be done starting from the instruments, mirrors, the road ahead, potential blind spots to both your right and left sides and anything that can compromise your safety.
Scanning plays a crucial role in keeping you in touch with your prevailing situation. This way, you can react very fast to avoid causing an accident and injuring yourself or other people nearby. Dwelling on one spot for a long time is not a sound idea but the beginning of trouble. Practice the scan and stay safe while enjoying your ride.
You may own the best motorcycle in your neighborhood or hold the title of being the unchallenged motorbike rider of all time, but without taking safety measures into account, your title and your motorbike, are both meaningless to you. Therefore, make use of the tips discussed above and stay safe all the time you are on your motorcycle.