Motorcyclists are in a unique position on the roads. They enjoy the freedom that comes with riding a motorcycle, but they are also exposed to dangers not encountered by other motorists. These dangers leave motorcyclists more prone to serious injuries in the event of an accident.
According to the Department for Transport, injuries to motorcyclists are out of proportion to motorcyclists’ presence on the roads. Motorcyclists account for a mere one per cent of road traffic, but account for 19 per cent of all road user deaths. The best way for motorcyclists to avoid accidents is to pay serious attention to safety. Here are some important tips to help motorcyclists stay safe this summer.
Wear a helmet
Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the incidence of head injuries to motorcyclists involved in accidents on the roads. Research from the Department for Transport even suggests that up to 50 lives could be saved annually if motorcyclists wore the safest helmets available to them. When looking for a helmet, motorcyclists should consult SHARP, the helmet safety scheme set up by the Department for Transport. SHARP provides an independent assessment of the amount of protection a helmet can offer in an impact. Helmets are rated from one to five stars; the more stars a helmet has, the greater the level of protection it can give.
While a helmet is the single most important piece of protective kit for a motorcyclist, the importance of safety clothing should not be overlooked. Whether a motorcyclist rides a 50cc moped or a 1200cc superbike, riding in everyday clothes increases the risk of injury in the event of an accident. High quality bike leathers with internal integrated body armour provide good all round protection against injuries. For maximum protection, leathers should be at least 1.2mm thick and fit well, without being too tight. Sturdy boots and abrasion-resistant gloves are also an essential part of motorcyclist protection.
Carry out basic motorcycle safety checks
Aside from dressing appropriate, one of the most important daily habits a motorcyclist can adopt to reduce the risk of an accident is to check their motorcycle before they take to the roads. In particular, a motorcyclist should pay attention to tyre pressures, tread depth, chain tension and lubrication, lights, brakes, control cables, and oil, coolant and fuel levels. By taking a couple of minutes to perform some basic checks, motorcyclists can ensure that potential problems do not go unnoticed.
Undertake advanced training
Motorcyclists who wish to stay safe on the roads should consider enrolling on an advanced rider training scheme such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ Advanced Motorcycling Test. Such schemes are particularly suitable for motorcyclists who have recently passed their test, are returning to riding after a break or are upgrading to a more powerful motorcycle.
Motorcyclists can avoid accidents on the roads by adopting defensive riding techniques. Motorcyclists should adapt their riding style to suit the weather, ensuring that their speed is slow enough to negotiate bends without losing control in wet weather. They should also make themselves as visible as possible to other road users. The best motorcyclists do use the whole lane rather than a small part of it. They shift from the middle to the left or right of a lane depending on the conditions. This helps them to improve their own visibility, and also helps other road users to see them.
Watch out for road hazards
Road hazards that have little effect on a car, such as uneven road surfaces, can cause a motorcycle to crash. Oftentimes, road hazards seem to appear out of nowhere. Therefore, it is important for motorcyclists to practice avoiding hazards, so that they can react quickly and calmly when they do appear. In most cases, motorcyclists will need to make a quick turn to avoid a hazard. To do this, they should lean quickly in the direction they want to turn and press on the inside of the hand grip on the same side. If they have to ride over a hazard, motorcyclists should slow down, hold onto their hand grips firmly and keep a straight course. They should also rise up on the foot pegs to absorb shocks and impacts. Once they have ridden over a hazard, they should pull over and inspect their motorcycle for damage.
Motorcycle traffic increases in the summer months and so does the risk of an accident. With a little planning and preparation, motorcyclists can ensure that they stay safe on the roads.