Riding a motorcycle can be both a lot of fun, as well as significantly more dangerous than driving a car. Being completely open to the elements leaves the rider a lot more vulnerable in case of accident than an automobile driver. May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month, thus we have put together a list of tips for both the rider, and the driver to help create safer roads for everyone.
Be cautious of poor weather conditions
If you are a motorcyclist, you should avoid riding in poor weather conditions. Wet, slippery roads from rain or snow can be especially dangerous. Both riders and car drivers must take extra care while driving during poor weather conditions as the visibility is limited – car drivers need to look twice, and for motorcyclists, it’s safest to avoid riding altogether.
Take care at intersections
A lot of accident with motorcyclists occur when car drivers are less cautious at intersections and take left turns in front of the motorcycles. In most of these situations, the car driver fails to see the motorcyclist – both rider and driver need to look twice and be fully aware of their surroundings.
Be mindful of blind spots
This type of accident occurs as a result of motorcycles being hidden in the blind spot of the vehicle. It is essential that drivers check for motorcyclists in their mirrors and blind spots by looking over their shoulder before switching or entering new traffic lanes. Riders must also ensure that their motorcycles are not in the blind spot of the driver.
Keep distance and give space
This is especially important for both drivers and riders – keep a considerable amount of distance in between you. In doing so, you can avoid a large number of accidents. By giving extra space, both driver and rider ensure that they will have enough room to stop in case of emergency.
Don’t drive or ride under the influence
Many motorcycle accidents occur due to drunk driving and drunk riding. Motorcyclists who ride under the influence of alcohol, as well as drivers who do the same, risk their own lives and the lives of others on the road. It is important to never drink and drive, or drink and ride – this one goes both ways and can be equally dangerous for both sides.
Front brake usage
As a rider, you need to be sure that you know when and how to use your front brake properly. It is taught in many motorcycle safety courses to always apply pressure to both brakes when stopping – this is an especially useful tip as it results in a rider who is used to the feel of their bike, and knows how much pressure to apply when stopping. Some riders only use the rear brake, and resort to the front brake in case of emergency, which could actually prove more detrimental as it will stop them quicker than anticipated and could cause them to lose control. Be sure you are comfortable with your bike in case of an emergency, and have a plan of action to stop quick if needed.
Be extra cautious for lane changes
As motorcycles fit into blind spots easily, accidents are prone to happen when a car changes lanes swiftly and abruptly. It is important to keep an eye out for vehicles changing lanes, and their turn signals to indicate they plan to do so.
Ride the correctly-sized motorcycle for your skill
This is something that you must consider while buying a bike as a rider. If you are a beginner, it is wise to choose bikes that are lightweight so that it can be maneuvered easily in parking lots and tight turns. Handling and riding heavy bikes with a large torque power require skill and a considerable amount of practice.
Always wear a helmet and gear
There are many myths that surround the use of a helmet; probably one of the most common is that helmets restricts your visibility. The Department of Transportation’s safety standards state that helmets must provide a 210-degree view. This ensures that a rider’s peripheral view is unaffected. A full faced helmet keeps all kinds of distractions such as wind, bugs and rain away from the face. So it is very important to wear helmets, and other accessories such as a protective jacket, gloves, and shoes that cover the ankle while riding your motorcycle.
There are many ongoing safety courses for motorcyclists where you can refresh your riding skills and ride safely on the road. The Arizona Motorcycle School offers one of the best safety courses and training classes to motorcycle riders. A full list of motorcycle safety courses endorsed by the Arizona Department of Transportation can be found here.