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Motorcycle Defensive Driving

Reckless driving can change your life forever. Even worse, it can end it. This is why you need to become aware of what you can do to reduce the possibility of being involved in a crash and how to protect yourself should you, unfortunately, be involved in one. Some of the main things you can do are wear protective gear, make yourself more visible, maintain safe distancing from other vehicles, and more.

Here you’ll find the 10 best tips you can follow to be safer while driving your motorcycle.

Tip 1: Wear Protective Gear

The most critical gear is a helmet, which helps protect the head and brain in case of an accident. Helmets should meet safety standards[1] and fit properly, covering the entire head and securing under the chin. A sturdy jacket made of abrasion-resistant materials like leather or reinforced textiles can protect against road rash and impact injuries. Similarly, wearing long pants and gloves can safeguard the skin from abrasions and reduce the risk of hand injuries. Finally, sturdy boots that cover the ankles provide stability and protection for the feet and lower legs.

In the event of an accident or fall, wearing the appropriate gear can significantly minimize the severity of injuries[2]. The risk of abrasions, fractures, and road rash is decreased. Helmets are especially crucial for protecting the head and preventing possibly catastrophic traumatic brain injuries.

Tip 2: Stay Visible

Motorcycles are smaller and less noticeable than cars, making it crucial to take proactive measures to enhance visibility. One effective way to do this is by wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing[3]. Opting for gear in vibrant colors such as yellow, orange, or neon can make you more conspicuous to other drivers, especially in low-light conditions. Reflective elements on your helmet, jacket, and pants further enhance visibility by reflecting light from other vehicles, making you more noticeable from a distance. Some people believe that high-visibility clothing is not very effective. But adding this extra layer of security can't do any harm.

Using your motorcycle's headlights is essential. Like the use of reflection apparel, headlights help you to remain visible on the road. No matter the time of day, it's a good idea to always have your headlights on. This makes it simpler for other drivers to see you, especially in conditions where visibility may be compromised, like bad weather or when you're surrounded by a lot of traffic.

Tip 3: Maintain a Safe Following Distance

It is essential to leave enough space between your motorcycle and the vehicle in front to allow for adequate reaction time in case of sudden stops, obstacles, or emergencies. Keeping a safe following distance also provides you with better visibility of the road ahead, allowing you to anticipate and react to potential hazards more effectively.

By maintaining a cushion of space, you create a safety buffer that can help prevent rear-end collisions. Motorcycles are more vulnerable to impacts from behind, so leaving enough distance allows you to maneuver and take evasive actions if needed. Remember to consider road conditions, weather, and traffic flow when determining the appropriate following distance.

Tip 4: Anticipate and Avoid Hazards

You must constantly scan the road ahead and be proactive in identifying potential dangers. This includes watching out for hazards such as potholes, debris, oil spills, or uneven surfaces that can pose a risk to your safety. By actively scanning and anticipating these hazards, you can adjust your speed, position, and maneuvering to avoid them, minimizing the chances of accidents or loss of control.

Being aware of your surroundings and practicing situational awareness allows you to respond swiftly and effectively to potential hazards. Keep an eye on the behavior of other vehicles on the road. Watch for their speed, lane changes, and signaling. By doing so, you can anticipate their actions and make appropriate adjustments to maintain a safe distance and position. In addition, maintain a wide field of vision. Check your mirrors and look over your shoulders frequently to avoid blind spots and potential threats.

Tip 5: Use Defensive Lane Positioning

Strategic positioning can increase your visibility to other drivers and create space for maneuvering and escape routes. Generally, riding in the left or right portions of the lane, rather than the center is preferable. This helps you to be more visible to drivers in adjacent lanes and reduces the chances of being in their blind spots.

Defensive lane positioning also allows you to maintain a safe space between your motorcycle and other vehicles. By leaving ample space between yourself and surrounding traffic, you have more time to react to sudden movements or potential hazards. It also gives you room to maneuver in emergency situations. Adjust your lane positioning based on road conditions. Watch out for curves or intersections.

Tip 6: Signal Clearly and Timely

Signaling your turns and lane changes provides valuable information to surrounding vehicles, helping them anticipate your movements and make appropriate adjustments. This reduces the risk of collisions and promotes smoother traffic flow.

When signaling, make sure to do so well in advance of your intended action. This gives other drivers ample time to react and adjust their driving accordingly. Activate your turn signals at least 100 feet[4] (30 meters) before making a turn or changing lanes. Maintain the signals until you have completed the maneuver, and then cancel them to avoid confusing other drivers. Clear and timely signaling not only enhances your safety but also promotes better communication and mutual understanding among all road users.

Tip 7: Be Mindful of Intersections

Where the paths of several cars converge at intersections, there is a higher danger of crashes[5]. When approaching and crossing junctions, motorcyclists must use caution and maintain their attention. Watch out for cars that might turn left in front of you since they frequently present a serious threat because of errors in judgment or a failure to see an approaching motorcycle. Be aware of other drivers' movements and be ready to evade them if necessary.

When approaching an intersection, reduce your speed and be ready to brake or maneuver quickly if the need arises. Scan the intersection for any signs of movement or potential hazards, such as vehicles running red lights or pedestrians crossing. Make eye contact with drivers at the intersection to ensure they have seen you and are aware of your presence.

Tip 8: Stay Alert and Avoid Distractions

You must maintain constant concentration and awareness of your surroundings while riding a motorcycle. Any type of distraction, such as using a mobile device, listening to loud music, or having a long discussion, can make it far more difficult for you to respond quickly to potential road hazards. Focusing your attention first and foremost on how to ride your motorcycle safely is crucial.

By staying alert, you can effectively scan the road ahead, check your mirrors, and be aware of the behavior of other vehicles. This heightened level of awareness allows you to anticipate potential hazards and take appropriate defensive measures. Avoiding distractions also ensures that you are ready to respond to unexpected situations promptly. Remember that split-second reactions can make a significant difference in preventing accidents or mitigating their severity.

Tip 9: Practice Controlled Braking

Knowing how to effectively and safely brake can make a significant difference in emergencies and help in accident prevention. When braking, it is important to utilize both brakes[6], the front and rear, as they work together to provide optimal stopping power. The front brake typically provides most of the stopping force, but applying it too abruptly or with excessive force can cause the front wheel to lock up. Therefore, it is crucial to apply the brakes progressively and modulate the pressure to maintain control and stability.

Additionally, practicing controlled braking involves proper body positioning. When braking, shift your body weight slightly towards the rear of the motorcycle to maintain balance and stability. This helps to prevent the front forks from compressing excessively and allows for more effective braking. Regularly practicing controlled braking techniques, both in controlled environments and real-world scenarios, enhances your muscle memory and reaction time. It enables you to brake safely and efficiently in various conditions, such as wet or slippery surfaces, where traction may be compromised.

Tip 10: Continuously Educate Yourself

You are better able to negotiate the difficulties of the road the more information and abilities you have. Keep up with the most recent safety guidelines, legislation, and motorcycle technology. Think about enrolling in advanced motorcycle safety classes or attending defensive driving clinics. You may improve your riding talents and decision-making skills by taking these courses, which offer insightful information and hands-on training.

Additionally, staying up-to-date with traffic laws and regulations is essential for safe motorcycle riding. Laws may change over time, and it is your responsibility to stay informed and comply with them. Regularly review the rules of the road and traffic signs to ensure you are aware of any updates or changes. Continuously educating yourself also includes staying informed about the latest research[7], studies, and statistics related to motorcycle safety.

To be legally prepared in case of an accident, you can trust Morris & Dewett to help you get any due compensation. Schedule a free consultation with us today.

SOURCES:

[1] https://www.hexarmor.com/posts/understanding-safety-helmet-standards

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/mc/index.html

[3] https://driving-tests.org/beginner-drivers/wheres-your-neon-why-high-visibility-motorcycle-clothing-is-essential/

[4] https://mwg.aaa.com/via/car/turn-hand-signals

[5] https://highways.dot.gov/safety/intersection-safety

[6] https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/00-nht-212-motorcycle/motorcycle45-46.html

[7] https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles

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