However, it is important to remember that they are frequently overlooked by drivers in other vehicles and due to the lack of protection, leave the rider vulnerable to a serious injury. In fact, although motorcyclists represent just 1% of total road traffic, they account for a staggering 19% of all road user fatalities.1 For those that do use a motorcycle, and for users of other vehicles, it is vital to be aware of how to keep yourself and other road users safe.
Ride with extra caution at all times, ensuring you avoid distractions and maintain a high level of focus. Keep your eyes moving, check your mirrors regularly and always look beyond the vehicle in front. This not only allows you to notice and avoid hazards early, but gives you a smoother ride.
Giving yourself plenty of space means you have an escape route, so should you need to brake or change direction, you are able to do so without endangering yourself or others. It is of particular importance for motorcyclists to look out for any turning vehicles which could intercept their path, as this is a common cause of incidents.
Check blind spots
If a driver fails to check their blind spot efficiently, it can be easy to miss a small vehicle such as a motorcycle. Even if a driver does see you, it can also be difficult for them to judge a motorcycle’s speed. This creates a serious danger for motorcyclists, as a driver may decide to change lanes or make a turn in front of you.
To avoid such dangers, it is important to stay out of another driver’s blind spot where possible. This is particularly important when alongside a truck or other large vehicle as their blind spot area is likely to be further restricted.
Adjust to weather conditions
All vehicles, particularly motorcyclists, need to take further caution in poor weather. In wet weather, braking distances can be doubled, and therefore it is important to reduce your speed and give yourself space between you and the vehicle in front. Before travelling, ensure your tyres have the sufficient tread and pressure to provide the traction needed in wet conditions and when stopping, brake gently to avoid aquaplaning.
Improve your visibility with high visibility clothing and always ride your motorcycle with the headlights illuminated at all times. Newer motorcycles have three headlights in a triangular formation which greatly improves your visibility to other road users; particularly to drivers waiting to pull out of side streets or turn in front of you.
Many motorcyclists have decided to wear a camera on their helmet to record their journey. The recordings can be used to increase your riding skills, and should you be involved in an incident, can help in identifying the cause, leading to a swift resolution, avoiding lengthy legal debates.
Safe driving tips for motorcyclists:
- Wear an approved safety helmet, this can reduce the risk of severe injury by 70%2;
- Wear the right clothes including gloves, boots and jacket which provide appropriate protection;
- Look in the direction you are riding – ensure you keep your eyes focused on the direction you want to go;
- Adjust your speed to the conditions particularly in built up areas;
- A large percentage of motorcycle collisions are due to the poor behaviour of other drivers. Always ride defensively even when other parties are in the wrong to avoid being involved in an accident;
- Make yourself visible to other road users, using high visibility clothing, headlights and position yourself centrally on the road;
- Don’t use a personal media player which limits your hearing, affecting your awareness of hazards around you;
- Avoid riding a motorcycle in poor weather as bikes have much less traction;
- Take care when accelerating on curved access roads as they can be slippery from leaked oil, especially in wet conditions; and
- Consider using a motorbike with the latest technology as the rate of fatal crashes is 31% lower in a motorcycle with antilock brakes than in the same models without ABS.3
Safe driving tips for drivers:
- Look twice - double checking your blind spot and surroundings before manoeuvring;
- Keep your distance and reduce your speed around motorcyclists;
- Give motorcycles additional space to manoeuvre around you;
- Check for motorcyclists before opening your car door when parked; and
- As a driver it is vital to ensure you check both mirrors and are aware of any motorbike riders nearby to reduce the risk of a collision, particularly in heavy traffic where motorcycle riders are often seen cutting between lanes to move forward.