Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents happen every day, and motorcyclists are the most vulnerable road users along with pedestrians and cyclists. That’s why it’s so important to take appropriate precautions and follow these riding recommendations to stay safe on the road.
Motorcyclists are more at risk of suffering an accident because of the following three points:
/ No protection: Mopeds and motorcycles have little or no passive safety features to minimise injury in the event of an accident.
/ Less vehicle stability: It’s easier to lose control of single-tracked vehicles when trying to react to unforeseen events.
/ Poor visibility by other road users.
For this reason, we want to give you some tips to help you both improve your personal protection and avoid risky situations that could lead to accidents.
Increase your protection
Always wear an approved helmet
All motorcycle and moped riders and passengers must wear an approved helmet on all types of roads according to European standard ECE 22.
The only exception: when the motorcycle has a self-protection structure and seat belts and this is stated on your ITV card.
Keep in mind that each passenger must wear a helmet that fits them properly and is securely fastened as many head injuries occur because the helmet is thrown off on impact.
It’s also important to remember that your helmet has a shelf life, which guarantees the suitability of its safety and protection characteristics. Depending on the manufacturer, a helmet’s lifespan can range between three and eight years of use. You’ll also need to change it if it has had any hard blows or fallen from a height of over 1.50 metres.
Appropriate riding attire
Although in the UK you are only required to use a helmet, we strongly recommend you wear specific clothing for motorcycle riding. Together with your helmet, clothing is the only other passive safety system for riders. Specialised riding gear creates a protective shield against the asphalt that minimises chance of injuries in accidents.
Make sure you wear a jacket that, as well as being one you like, is made of a resistant material and includes the protection on the back to cushion your body in the event of a fall.
And you can forget about wearing shorts. The legs and arms take the biggest damage in a fall, so they should also be protected with suitable motorcycle trousers or overalls.
Gloves aren’t just for winter
Gloves are another important piece of equipment for motorcyclists as your hands are the first to hit the floor when you fall. We recommend you wear them year-round, even in summer.
Make sure you’re visible to other drivers
Wear brightly coloured clothing and reflective devices, especially at night and in poor visibility conditions, so that other drivers can see you from at least 150 metres away.
In cities where the road may be shared with pedestrians and other users, take extreme precautions and make sure that other drivers can see you at all times. Protect yourself and others by keeping your wits about you and using defensive driving techniques. Avoid getting into other vehicles’ blind spots and sudden or unexpected manoeuvres. Don’t take advantage of your bike’s agility to zigzag between vehicles as you run the risk of not being seen.
Avoid risky situations
Motorcyclists face a number of risks when riding, including:
Here we’re talking about both hits that occur when one of the vehicles is stationary, and ones that happen when all involved are moving.
Avoid this type of accident by following safe riding rules both when you’re moving and when you stop.
/ When driving between moving cars, keep a safe distance between your vehicle and vehicles at either side, and ride in the middle of the lane whenever possible.
To avoid colliding with the vehicle in front if you have to do an unexpected stop, in addition to keeping a safe distance, drive to one side instead of right in the middle so that you can react.
/ Cut your speed when riding between stationary cars, maximum 12.5 mph.
Implement preventive measures, like keeping track of traffic through your mirrors and your fingers on the brake lever to help reduce your reaction time.
When stopping, clearly signal that you’re about to stop before you do so by tapping the brake several times.
Approach traffic lights or pedestrian crossings at a speed that allows you to slowly brake without going into the crossing or the intersection, and stop at the side of the lane, not in the middle.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, motorcycles have little stability, so one of the most common causes of bike accidents are slips. Here are some measures you can take to avoid them:
- When you go to refuel, look out for petrol spillages on the floor and avoid going over them with your wheels and stopping on them.
- Don’t roll your wheels over the white lines at pedestrian crossings. The paint makes them slippery, especially in the rain.
- Use both brakes at the same time as the front one brakes more than the rear one, and this will help compensate. And never hit the front brake when taking a bend.
- Also bear in mind that adverse weather affects grip, braking and visibility, so make sure to reduce your speed, increase the safety distance and take more breaks so that you’re able to react quicker to any incidents on the road.
However, if you feel your bike slipping, keep steady and don’t brake. Most importantly, don’t use the front one only.
Crossings and changes of direction
Crossings and changes of direction are situations in which motorcycles are most vulnerable. When approaching one, take the following precautions:
- Approach at a moderate speed and watch for vehicles or pedestrians that may pose a danger so that you can be ready. Signal changes in driving direction in advance.
- When approaching a crossing where you have priority, be wary of other vehicles that may not see you, and check that there are no vehicles still crossing, especially if you’re in the front line. Defensive driving, remember?
If you fall…
If despite following the above tips you lose control of your bike, let go of it immediately so you don’t get dragged along with it.
Once on the floor, relax and slide until you come to a complete stop. Try not to roll and don’t try to get up until you’ve actually stopped moving, as you may fall again.
Finally, after any accident, even if it was only minor, check the condition of your handlebars, wheels, lights and the brake, cooling, battery and oil fluid levels. Also make sure to carefully check whether there are traces of oil on the brakes and/or on the tyres.