Here are eight tips to get you to your destination safely.
- Take professional rider training. There is no substitute for a skilled rider with a proper safety attitude. The Canada Safety Council’s Gearing Up program has been offered since 1974 and is an excellent start for rookie riders and an effective refresher for veteran riders.
- Wear an approved motorcycle helmet and fasten it properly. Most crashes happen at speeds around 50km/h and helmets are very effective at preventing head injuries at those speeds.
- Wear highly visible clothing (especially at night) and make sure that your headlight is functioning properly. Always wear protective clothing and protective gear.
- Communicate with drivers in other vehicles by using proper signals, lane positions and brake lights. Try to establish eye contact with the other drivers whenever possible.
- Keep an adequate space cushion when following, being followed, sharing your lane, passing other vehicles or being passed. Slow down and respect the hazards of speed according to road and weather conditions. Many single vehicle motorcycle collisions occur from speeding and losing control in a curve or in a situation of unpredictable vehicle behaviour.
- Scan your course of travel 12 to 15 seconds ahead so you can identify and avoid potential hazards. Predict what you might do if a dangerous situation presents itself. This gives you time to mentally prepare a safe outcome. You can also practice evasive maneuvers under supervision in secluded areas, to develop instinctive reactions.
- Remain alert, keep hydrated and pace yourself. Your motorcycle driving is directly related to your physical and mental state. Also, always look twice before advancing through intersections. It may save you from a collision with “red-light runners” or “left turners”.
- Limit the distance of your trip. A distance of 300 to 500 km/day will let you enjoy the trip and stop for much needed breaks.
Taking someone along for a ride? Make sure that you are an experienced driver, that you know your motorcycle and its limitations and that you have developed your risk awareness skills. Your passenger must wear a helmet and protective gear. Your passenger must also understand what is expected of him or her while riding with you, such as leaning the same amount and in the same direction as the rider. Passengers should also keep their feet on the foot pegs at all times and hold onto the rider with a hand on each side of the rider’s waist.
Riding with a Group? Keep the group small; three to five riders per group is easier to manage. Larger groups may cause other road users to take unnecessary chances. Most group riding is done in a “staggered” pattern. This formation recommends specific rider positions and distance between riders, making the group highly visible and safe. The most experienced drivers would lead and take the last position. There must be a clear understanding of the route with planned stops. There should also be a couple hand gestures to allow for communication for warnings or changes in formation. Remember to ride consistently at a safe pace and never allow yourself to ride beyond your level of competence or comfort.
Don’t become a statistic; take matters into your own hands. The reality is that it is ultimately up to you, the rider, to take every precaution to avoid collisions and falls.