The safety tips on this page come from the Motorcyle Safety Foundation Web site. Their site offers many more valuable tips, including several professionally produced videos; you are encouraged to visit their site by clicking on the logo to the right.
Give yourself plenty of space. People driving cars often just don’t see motorcycles. Even when drivers do see you, chances are they’ve never been on a motorcycle and can’t properly judge your speed.
- Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time.
- Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.
- Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.
- Be aware of the blind spots cars and trucks have.
- Flash your brake light when slowing down and before stopping.
- If a motorist doesn’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn.
Dress for safety:
- Wear a quality helmet and eye protection.
- Wear bright clothing and a light-colored helmet.
- Wear leather or other thick, protective clothing.
- Choose long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
- Remember – the only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.
Apply effective mental strategies:
- Constantly search the road for changing conditions. Use the Search, Evaluate, Execute strategy (SEE) to increase time and space safety margins.
- Give yourself space and time to respond to other motorists’ actions.
- Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.
- Use lane positioning to be seen; ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible.
- Watch for turning vehicles.
- Signal your next move in advance.
- Avoid weaving between lanes.
- Pretend you’re invisible, and ride extra defensively.
- Don’t ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- Know and follow the rules of the road, and stick to the speed limit. Know your bike and how to use it:
- Practice. Develop your riding techniques before going into heavy traffic. Know how to handle your bike in conditions such as wet or sandy roads, high winds, and uneven surfaces.
Motorcycling is primarily a solo activity, but for many, riding as a group — whether with friends on a Sunday morning ride or with an organized motorcycle rally — is the epitome of the motorcycling experience.
Here are some tips to help ensure a fun and safe group ride:
- Arrive prepared. Arrive on time with a full gas tank.
- Hold a riders’ meeting. Discuss things like the route, rest and fuel stops, and hand signals (see diagrams on next page). Assign a lead and sweep (tail) rider. Both should be experienced riders who are well-versed in group riding procedures. The leader should assess everyone’s riding skills and the group’s riding style.
- Keep the group to a manageable size. If necessary, break the group into smaller sub-groups, each with a lead and sweep rider.
- Ride prepared. At least one rider in each group should pack a cell phone, first-aid kit, and full tool kit, so the group is prepared for any problem that they might encounter. Ride in formation.
- The staggered riding formation (see diagram ) allows a proper space cushion between motorcycles so that each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards. The leader rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least one second behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the group follows the same pattern. A single-file formation is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.
- Avoid side-by-side formations as they reduce the space cushion. If you suddenly needed to swerve to avoid a hazard, you would not have room to do so. You don’t want handlebars to get entangled.
- Periodically check the riders following in your rear view mirror. If you see a rider falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all the riders in the group use this technique, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch up.
- If you’re separated from the group, don’t panic. Your group should have a pre-planned procedure in place to regroup. Don’t break the law or ride beyond your skills to catch up.