Whether you’re a car driver or a motorcyclist, knowing basic safety precautions of safe riding can save lives. Motorcyclists, as well as motorists, undergo considerable training, particularly in the UK – the motorbike tests are increasingly more difficult than the old days of riding round the block and being observed by the examiner with a clipboard at the roadside!
The 5 most common causes of motorcycle accidents (listed below) have been researched leading bodies in the UK* and don’t always involve other motorists on the road.
- Failure to negotiate left hand bend on country A road
- Failure to negotiate right hand bend on country A road
- Collision at junctions
- Collision while overtaking
- Loss of control
A few tips to consider:
Plan Your Journey
Even if you are planning a short ride, have a plan of your route. Plan your stops, such as petrol stops, coffee stops, lunch breaks and so on. Take your mobile phone and ID, and let someone else know where you are planning on going – and when you’re returning. Check the weather forecast before you set off to ensure you are wearing suitable clothing – you don’t want to be caught out in the rain, which in turns affects your style of riding. Listen to radio traffic reports in case there are any restrictions on the roads that will affect your route.
Don’t Drink and Ride
Never drink and ride a motorbike. Bikes can be particularly dangerous to handle if they are not under control. The bike scene has a particularly social side to its lifestyle, involving bikers attending rallies and festivals at weekends – so be extremely cautious if have been drinking the night before – buy a breathalyser if you’re not sure.
Take Another Class
If you’re new to riding motorbikes, or returning to the scene – there are plenty of bike courses and road safety courses in most locations. Even if you don’t want to take a full bike test – motorbike instructors will give you training, whether it’s the one-day CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) or just an hour out on a school motorbike to refresh stale riding techniques. A reminder on road awareness can never be over-rehearsed.
Are You Aware of Your Surroundings?
Riding a motorbike is more tiring than it looks. The level of concentration required to stay aware of your surrounding can be physically demanding. Your mind has alot to think about, such as other road users, pedestrians, road conditions, the weather and you will be plotting the journey ahead of you. If you are tired before your journey – seriously consider whether you should be using another mode of transport.
Wear a Helmet
Overwhelming evidence suggests that wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces head injuries in accidents. Make sure you helmet meets your country’s safety regulations, and the same applies to your pillion. In the UK, keep in mind it is illegal to ride without a helmet. Check government transport department guidelines for details.
Wear Protective Clothing
You can never over-estimate the effects the weather has when you’re riding a motorbike. UK riders are well versed in the changing climate. Basics should be purchased, such as a protective outer jacket, bike gloves, boots, long trousers, eye protection (sunglasses), and bright clothing so that you are seen. Carry spare waterproof clothing with you – even if it’s sunny before you set off.
Safety of Passengers
If you are planning on taking a pillion, ensure that you tell them how to ride with you. Ensure safe and warm clothing is worn, and obviously a correctly fitted helmet is essential. Talk them through how you want them to hold on to either the bike or yourself, and show them ways to lean with the bike. You may even want to consider taking them to a training class to learn about responsible and safe riding.
Ensure that your motorbike is in excellent running condition before setting out. Basic checks are essential for your safety and other road users, such as tyres, headlights, indicators, gears and brakes. If you can’t maintain it yourself, pay a motorbike mechanic to service it for you. Always carry a basic repair kit on the bike.
Taking basic precautions will allow you to be a more responsible rider and limit hazards that you can’t control – such as other drivers, road conditions and weather. As the Spring approaches in the UK, motorcycle accident claims increase as more road users enjoy the good weather. Allow yourself to travel in safety to avoid road traffic accidents, keep your speed below the limits and use your skills you have been developing to enjoy your ride.
*RoSPA Ride Safe leaflet, Feb 2006