Five point Safety Guide for Motorcyclists
If your thinking about buying a bike or already an experienced motorcyclist, this article written for RoadDriver by motorcyclehut.co.uk. is an essential read. Motorcyclehut's expert team of experienced riders have put their helmets together and compiled a comprehensive yet simple, five-point guide to keep motorcyclists safe on the roads.
Wearing a helmet is a legal requirement and should be the biggest priority for any rider, regardless of whether they’re new to the road or a veteran of two wheels.
Head injuries are the biggest cause of death for motorcyclists and the sole purpose of a helmet is to protect your head in the case of an accident, if one should occur. When shopping for a motorcycle helmet, it’s not all about finding one that appeals to your sense of style: the first thing you should be looking for is the amount of protection it provides.
A lot of riders opt for a full-face helmet because it provides all-round protection, both from the elements and the risk of an injury. The alternative is an open-face helmet; while any helmet is better than nothing at all, an open-faced design will do little to stop contact between your face and the surface of the road should you come off your bike.
Those on two wheels who neglect to put on a helmet, based on the assumption that an accident is unlikely, firstly, are breaking the law and secondly, put their own safety, and that of others, in danger. Wearing a helmet is a simple measure to perform and one that could save your life when you’re out on the roads.
When it comes to staying safe, the clothing you wear is just as vital as your choice of helmet.
Every rider must look to purchase the correct motorcycling gloves, boots, jacket and trousers, to protect themselves in the event of an accident.
Unlike a car, which will bear the brunt of the impact during a collision, a motorcycle offers close to no protection. For this reason, the clothing you choose to wear is the closest thing you have to an airbag.
That said, your clothing is also protecting you from the elements, which can be especially challenging when you’re travelling at high speeds on the open road. And it’s not the just the weather you have to think about: when you are riding at speeds of 50 to 60 miles per hour, small objects such as stones and rock can flick up and make contact with you, potentially causing significant injury. This is why wearing strong leather and textile jackets and trousers are very important when you are riding a motorbike.
While searching for a high-quality jacket and trousers may take priority, a suitable pair of motorcycling boots should never be overlooked. Wearing everyday footwear when you’re riding a motorcycle can never be considered a viable option, as they’ll do little to protect you from engine burns and the threat of broken bones should you take a fall. Motorcycle boots, such as products engineered by brands like Sidi, are designed to act as a protective shell around your lower legs and minimise the risk of injury during an accident.
Gloves similarly tend to be overlooked when it comes to protection and surprisingly, there are a significant number of riders out there who choose not to wear them at all. Aside from the glaringly obvious comfort factor for your hands, when you’re battling wind, rain and tempest at high speeds, gloves will also do their bit to keep you safe and comfortable.
In the event of a fall, your natural instinct is to throw out your hands in an attempt to reduce the impact on your body: if you’re travelling at speeds of 60mph, wearing a thick pair of gloves designed for motorcycle riders could prevent an injury that may otherwise see your riding days cut short.
Over the years, motorcycle technology has developed incredibly, and this is nowhere more apparent than in the ways that bike clothing has evolved to protect riders. Take advantage of these advances in technology by investing in some top-quality motorcycle clothing and keep yourself as a safe as possible.
So you’ve just passed your CBT and you’ve bought your first motorcycle. Congratulations and welcome to the world of riding! Now you’re ready to go cruising down the motorway at 65 mph. It’s everything you’ve been dreaming of.
The horrible truth is that more than half of motorcycle crashes involve riders with less than six months experience on the road since passing their test. A safety course, which is taken after completion of the CBT, is designed to give motorcyclists a better understanding of the road and their own capabilities as a rider. What’s more, riders who have completed an additional safety course will also receive exclusive discounts on motorcycle insurance.
Throughout the course, riders learn more about situations and scenarios they may find themselves in and ways to deal with and avoid these situations. Safety courses also aim to improve riders’ knowledge of road laws; as well as making riders more conscientious, this also provides an insight into how other road users operate, thus minimising the risk of accidents. The initial expenditure of a safety course is offset by a reduction in insurance premiums, as well as a significant increase in a new rider’s ability on the road.
For more experienced riders who feel they could benefit from taking a safety course, there are more intermediate ones available. During these more in-depth courses, examiners will assess a rider’s current performance and identify issues that a rider displays. With this in mind, an intermediate course is tailor-made to the individual and targets areas of road safety that perhaps need attention. This also provides am ample opportunity to learn about changes in road traffic laws, some of which may have taken effect since a rider passed their initial tests.
The sole purpose of a safety course is to increase your safety, and that of others, on the road. No matter how experienced you are, there are always new things to learn that will surprise you.
Concentration & Visibility
The phrase ‘it’s as easy as riding a bike’ does not apply when it comes to motorcycles. Our experience in the industry has taught us that riding a motorcycle isn’t something that comes naturally to any single person. In fact, it’s actually a highly-specialised skill that needs constant development and improvement.
No matter how experienced you might be on the road, the slightest loss in concentration can prove to be extremely dangerous. The main safety issue riders face on a daily basis is their lack of visibility on the road. Motorcycles are unfortunately much harder to see than cars and vans, a fact that every rider must take into account while driving on the road. Therefore, they must do their utmost to compensate for this reduced visibility.
It’s easy enough to get distracted while driving, although this is more applicable to car drivers, who are often subject to multiple distractions. This includes the radio, passengers, and mobile phones. For this reason, motorcyclists have to be on guard constantly—with all of these distractions, car drivers are less likely to be looking out for motorcycles. Riders should always try to maintain a safe distance between themselves and other vehicles; should another road user not be aware that you’re there and do something to make you brake suddenly, not having enough distance to stop could lead to a dangerous collision.
Like car drivers, motorcyclists should also avoid distraction and remain focused on the road: even the simplest things such as checking your phone or GPS system in front of you demands taking your eyes off the road for a split second, which is enough time for an accident to occur. If you really need to look at your phone or check where you are on your GPS system, then there are always stops or laybys on the side of the road and motorway service areas that you can use.
Wearing headphones while riding is another important safety issue that demands attention. Many riders opt to use their MP3 or iPod while they are riding, without considering that this significantly reduces their perception of what is going on around them and essentially eliminates the ability to hear when other road users are approaching.
Before any journey, every rider should consider whether they are fit enough to be riding a motorcycle. A motorcycle is an extremely heavy, and potentially dangerous, piece of machinery, weighing several hundred pounds and it is down to the rider to decide whether they think they will have full control of the vehicle. Being fit enough for a journey takes into account the rider’s mental and physical strength—if you have any doubts about either one of these factors, then you should reconsider other means of transport for that day.
The weather is something every motorist, regardless of their vehicle, should assess before they embark on a journey. No matter how short that journey may be, adverse weather conditions can significantly increase the chances of an accident occurring. When we say adverse weather, we mean something than will not only affect your performance but that of your bike as well. Riding on two wheels is far more dangerous than travelling on four, because you have a significantly smaller percentage of grip on the road than if you were travelling by car.
The main disadvantage of being a motorcyclist is that you are exposed to the weather and the impact this has on visibility. Whether it be snow or rain, it’s unlikely that visibility is going to be 100 per cent, as you have no protection compared to what a car has to offer. Always play it safe and check the weather forecast for the day, to identify what precautions need to be taken to stay safe. Even if the only option is to avoid riding at all, if this is going to keep you safe, it’s a small sacrifice to make.