With 2014 just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Motorcycle riders in particular can use this time to identify riding habits that need improvement and create resolutions to practice safer riding. In an effort to help reduce the amount of motorcycle accidents that occur, bikers can adhere to the following safety tips.
Maintain a Safe Following Distance: Slow down or change lanes safely if other vehicles cut in front of you. Following at a safe distance will help provide sufficient braking distance in case of an emergency and also provides a better window for evasive maneuvering if necessary.
Ride Defensively: Looking twice is a major part of riding a motorcycle defensively. A rider should never assume that that the other driver sees him/her. Check your mirrors, signal, and then look again over your shoulder before changing lanes. It is also important to look around the corner through a turn. Assume the cars in front of you will not use their turn signals and be prepared to react safely to cars that suddenly change lanes or abruptly turn off of roadways without signaling. At an intersection, wait to proceed until you are confident that other drivers see you.
Turn Safely: Slow down just before entering a turn. If you turn a little too fast, gently drag the rear brake to control your speed and stabilize the bike. Keep your feet up on the pegs at all times, with your knees in against the gas tank. Do not stick your foot out and drag it on the ground and do not turn your knee out. Keep the knees in and lean in with your whole body. In U-turns, keep your weight centered. Keep both feet on the pegs but shift slightly more weight to the outside peg. Drag the rear brake slightly through slow, tight turns to help stabilize the bike and balance out fork sensitivity.
Choose Visible Colors: Vibrant or fluorescent yellows and greens are most easily detected by the human eye. Lime yellow is the most scientifically “eye catching” color. Alternately, orange has a wide variety of hues and saturation levels and ranks high on the visual sensitivity scale. If red is your preference, opt for brighter reds and avoid dark shades like maroon. For a more subtle look – consider white. White jackets, white helmets and white paint reflect the full light spectrum and stand out considerably in low light and darkness. Avoid tan, beige, and gray/silver.
Maintain and Inspect: Perform a quick walk around and look closely for gasket leaks, wet hoses, loose belts, underinflated tires, and light-bulb functions. Keep a consistent preventive maintenance schedule. The basics such as regular oil changes, brake and chain adjustments, and air filter inspections can help keep a bike running reliably while also keeping repair bills to a minimum.
Throttle Evenly: Operate the throttle smoothly and at a consistent rate. Cruising in the proper gear with light, even throttling creates less wear on the engine and powertrain components while keeping extra hp on reserve for quick acceleration or engine braking. Steer smoothly and firmly. Never panic and jerk the handlebars. Smooth, even inputs can help a rider maintain stability while putting the bike through less wear and tear over the long term.
Check the Mirrors Often: Get into the habit of checking your rear-view mirrors every five to seven seconds as well as each time you disengage the throttle and prepare to brake. Watch out for vehicles following too closely or coming up quickly behind you before braking or turning. If you’re concerned about a distracted or aggressive driver behind you, change lanes or pull off onto the shoulder (only if it’s safe) and let the driver pass you.