Motorcycling can never be done risk-free. With that said, you can decrease your chance of experiencing an accident or getting into a motorcycle collision if you make an effort to do so. While some things will always be beyond your control, you should always do everything within your power to stay safe.
With that in mind, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the things you can do to stay safe while riding your motorcycle. These tips and techniques won’t ensure you’ll avoid a collision, but they should help.
Check the Weather Before You Ride
Weather can play a significant role in your safety when riding. If you’re out during heavy precipitation, then visibility for both you and other motorists decreases dramatically. This can greatly increase your likelihood of getting into an accident or collision.
A simple check of the weather before you ride is all you need. If there’s a chance of rain, it doesn’t mean you can’t ride, but it might impact the gear you wear on that ride.
If, however, you see some severe weather conditions coming up, then it would be in your best interest to stay home.
Scan for Potential Hazards
Hazards are everywhere on the road. Even things that might not seem like hazards for any other motorist can spell disaster for motorcyclists. Here’s a look at some of the most common road hazards for motorcycle riders:
- Railroad crossings
- Loose gravel
- Oil slicks
- Wet surfaces
- Road debris
One type of road debris that has received a lot of attention lately is grass clippings. It might seem silly, but freshly cut grass clippings can wreak havoc on your motorcycle’s tires’ ability to get proper grip on the road. This can lead to you going down when you least expect it.
Usually, grass clippings are just left by a careless homeowner or lawn-care service, but that doesn’t stop these grass clippings from being a serious hazard. This has led a lot of motorcyclists to ask, “Is it illegal to leave grass clippings on the road?” The answer depends on the laws in your particular area. I’ll let a member of Spaulding Injury Law describe how this pertains to the law in the video below:
In short, some places have laws that prohibit homeowners and law service personnel from depositing grass clippings on the road. Other places don’t. I urge you to check your local laws so you know for sure.
Make Sure You’re Seen
Most motorcycle accidents aren’t the rider’s fault. Quite often, a driver of a car, SUV, or truck simply doesn’t see the motorcyclist. While this is their fault, there are also some things a motorcycle rider can do about it.
Focus on being seen. This can start with your gear and your bike itself. You want your bike to get noticed. Lights and reflectors are very good things. When it comes to gear, you need to have reflective material on your gear and preferably bright, easy-to-see colors. Neon colors work best.
Also, when riding, think about your lane position. There is no one lane position that is right all of the time. You need to choose the correct lane position for the situation, and the correct lane position is the one where other motorists can easily see you.
Ride Responsibly and Appropriately
This one is a bit obvious, but never, ever under any circumstance, ride while intoxicated or under the influence. It’s a recipe for disaster and could lead to your death or the death of others.
Riding responsibly is not just about not riding under the influence. It’s also about riding within the speed limit, avoiding silly stunts, or generally acting like an idiot on the road.
Also, make sure to ride appropriately for a specific situation. If it’s raining or traffic is heavy, avoid any aggressive maneuvers. Take things slow and easy while you’re out there. Assess the roads and your surroundings, and then respond appropriately.
Always Have an Escape Route
One thing you should always do no matter where you ride is to always have an escape route. This means you should be able to exit your lane or position at a moment’s notice. It’s your go-to if a car cuts you off or brakes unexpectedly.
Plan your escape routes as you ride. Look for wide shoulders or a middle lane that you could pull into if needed. Also, keep an eye on gaps between cars and between other bikes. These can be how you can get to your escape routes when things are tight.
Keep a Cushion
Having a cushion when riding is key. This applies not only to the car in front of you but the vehicles and obstacles on all sides of you. It’s best to have at least a two-second cushion in front of you (usually a little longer).
When it comes to either side of your bike, just make sure you’re not pinned in by motorists on either side of you. Remember, you want to keep your escape routes open. Sometimes, this will mean speeding up. Other times this will mean you need to slow down.
By keeping your distance and always having a cushion between you and the cars and motorcycles around you, you’ll have time to react quickly to the unexpected.
Keep Up on Your Riding Skills
I’d advise every single person on a motorcycle to take a motorcycle safety course. In these courses, professionals teach you the best tricks they’ve learned over thousands of miles traveled.
While an initial safety course is important, it’s equally important to keep up on your riding skills. I’d urge you to take an intermediate or advanced rider’s course. These courses go beyond what instructors can teach you in a beginner class, and the tips and techniques you’ll learn will help you not only to be safe but become a better and smoother rider overall.
Finally, nothing makes up for practice. The issue with a lot of riders is that they never practice their panic stops or tight cornering or obstacle avoidance. If you don’t practice your skills, you’ll never perfect them.
Get Help If You Need It
If you do have a motorcycle collision or an accident of some kind when riding, then you may need legal representation.
Spaulding Injury Law notes that it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident. This is especially true if you or someone else was injured in the accident.
Consultations with lawyers are often free, and that means you can find out if you need a lawyer without much of a hassle at all. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to motorcycle collisions and accidents.