Safe riding is always good riding. Riding safely is mostly a matter of knowledge and attitude, and riding safely doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, practicing safe techniques could add years of fun to your life. Among all motor vehicles, motorcycles are the most vulnerable on the road. Because motorcycles do not have seat belts, you can be thrown off your seat in a crash, which can result in serious injury or even death. Imagine your chance for survival if a truck strikes you, or if you strike it. Hitting a truck is like hitting a steel wall. However, your chance for survival will be increased if you wear a helmet and follow the safety tips below when riding your motorcycle. Here are some motorcycle safety tips to keep you alive and well at all times:
1.Drive to survive
Motorcycles are the smallest vehicles on the road. Unfortunately they provide virtually no protection in a crash. Other drivers may not see you on your motorcycle, so you must be aware of everything on the road. Be extra cautious, paying attention to the signals and brake lights of other vehicles, especially trucks. However, you still need to be prepared in the event their signals or lights don’t work. Ride with caution and drive defensively. Even though your motorcycle may be small, you must adhere to the laws of the road. Never ride in between lanes in traffic or share a lane with another vehicle. Don’t instigate aggressive driving with other motorists; you will only increase your chance of a crash.
2. Make eye contact
Never assume others see you. Always try to make eye contact with drivers who may be about to pull into your path.
3. Read “vehicle language”
Even when drivers, cyclists and pedestrians do see you approaching, they often misjudge your distance and speed. Don’t rely on them.
4. Always Wear a good helmet
Helmets are the most important piece of equipment you can wear when riding your motorcycle-as it could be your only source of protection in a serious crash. Make sure to always wear a helmet. Helmets prevent head injuries in 67 per cent of crashes and deaths in 29 per cent. Ensure your helmet has a sticker showing that it meets current safety standards. Avoid buying a used helmet. It may have been in a crash, and the damage may not be obvious.
5. Wear protective clothing designed for motorcycle riders
Protective clothing including gloves, boots and a jacket can provide some protection during a crash, as well as shield you from the weather and flying debris. Keeping warm and dry will help you stay alert and maintain coordination. Wear your riding gear in layers so you can adjust to changing conditions. Jeans give little protection. Never ride in lightweight pants or shorts.
6. Check yourself and your bike
Conduct a safety inspection of your motorcycle before each ride. Proper maintenance will help reduce your chance of an crash or the severity of injury if you are involved in a crash, especially with a large truck or bus.
Getting hit by an oncoming vehicle that’s turning is the most common type of motorcycle crash.
8. Check behind when turning from a highway
Watch your mirrors and make sure you have plenty of space behind. The drivers behind might not slow down for you.
9. Look out for hazardous road conditions
Wet roads, fluid spills, sand, gravel, highway sealant, railroad tracks, potholes and other road-surface hazards reduce your traction. They cause many falls.
10. Take it easy on the curves
Many crashes happen there. You might overshoot the road or cross the centre line and get hit by oncoming traffic. Watch the road ahead, slow down and choose the correct lane position-before entering a curve.
11. Watch your speed
Of all vehicles, motorcycles accelerate the fastest, while trucks and buses are the slowest. Please watch your speed around trucks, especially in bad weather or at night. Colliding with the back of a truck will end your riding days.
12. Protect your eyes and face
Constant wind can make your eyes water, preventing you from spotting hazards. Flying insects, dust and debris can hurt your eyes and face. The best protection is a full-face helmet with a built-in face shield.
13. Be visible
Wear bright, reflective clothing. Add extra reflective material to it or wear a reflective vest. Likewise, buy a bright-coloured helmet and stick reflective tape to the back and sides. Always keep your headlight on. Ride in the lane position where other drivers can easily see you and you’ve got room to move. Avoid all other vehicles’ blind spots.
14. Watch the no-zones
Never hang out in a truck’s blind spot or “No-Zone.” Trucks have large No-Zones on both sides, the front and behind the truck. Truck drivers cannot see you when you ride in these blind spots, which allows for a greater chance of a crash. The front blind spot is particularly dangerous if you need to stop quickly. Because of their lightweight and braking system, motorcycles can stop much faster than trucks. A truck may not be able to stop as quickly as you do, so you need to take special precautions to avoid crashes before they happen.
15. Be ready: mind, body, and bike.
There are three ways riders should ready themselves for a ride. First, there is mental readiness. Are you ready to concentrate on riding? If you are angry or preoccupied by something, taking your bike out may not be the best idea. In an aggravated or distracted state you are much more likely to be involved in a crash or do something foolish. A proper attitude will not only make you safer but your spouse and co-workers are less likely to plot against you. Put your worries in your saddlebags and focus on riding the bike. Limbering up mentally, by taking time to focus on the task ahead, visualizing your route, and being ready for trouble spots, is great way to prepare.
Second, you must be physically prepared. Start with good protective gear. This means a good-fitting helmet, gloves, eye protection, jacket, long pants and sturdy boots or shoes. Wear gear that is designed for use on a motorcycle, not a beach or a fancy nightclub. The people you see wearing a helmet, a smile and not much else are not well protected. Likewise, folks in eight layers of leather, Kevlar, body armor, but no helmet are not well protected. It is a whole package, and you need to wear it every time. If it’s too hot to wear protective clothing, it’s too hot to ride, period.
On top of that, stay healthy. Well-balanced meals, plenty of water, and minimal amounts of fatty food and caffeine lend themselves to safe riding. Physical fitness will help your riding in countless ways – comfort on longer rides, better and sharper reflexes, plus, you look better in your leather clothes! Also, try some stretching exercises before you ride. Limbering up physically before a ride helps you stay in the saddle longer.
Third, you must make sure that your bike is up for the job. This includes not only fixing the parts that break, but doing all the preventive maintenance that is so easy to skip: regular oil changes, properly adjusted controls, a properly adjusted chain and suspension, good tires, working turn signals, you get the idea. A few Naira spent ahead of time will keep your bike going for years. Plus, the best way to keep the buzzards from circling when you break down in the desert is to simply not break down.
With all that routine maintenance out of the way, do a quick walk around of your bike as you get ready for your ride. Look for leaks, loose bolts, tire problems, or any thing else out of place. And not to sound like your mother, but when was the last time you checked your tire’s air pressure? If it has been more than a week, it’s been too long. And one more thing: no running with scissors!
The very best time to practice these habits is every time you go out for a ride. Spend at least a few minutes every ride concentrating on each of these habits and soon they will become second nature to you. Don’t focus so hard on practicing that you lose sight of the job at hand. Instead, integrate practice into your normal riding routine.
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