Riding a motorcycle is adventurous and an exhilarating experience. However, the harsh reality is that an average of 6 motorcyclists died and 115 were seriously injured per week in reported road casualties between 2015 to 20201.
The most common contributing factor to motorcyclists in fatal or serious accidents (FSA) with another vehicle was specified as ‘driver or rider failed to look properly’, so with statistics like these it makes sense to take safety seriously while riding motorcycles. Richard Gladman, Head of Driving and Riding Standards at IAM RoadSmart, has compiled a list of tips so you can safely enjoy your ride.
Take a safety course
A safety course, like IAM RoadSmart’s Advanced Rider course, will help prepare you for all types of motorcycling, from your daily commute to an extended riding holiday. You will learn to be aware of your surroundings, plan for unpredictable riding situations and you will build confidence. Riding a motorcycle should be fun but we need to remember it can also be hazardous.
Check the weather before heading out
Rain, ice and snow can compromise your ride. Riding in these elements is hazardous for bikers because you have less traction than a car, you can be less visible to other road users, and extreme temperatures will affect your ability to ride at your best. If the ride is not essential then choose a different day, and even if it is your commute, there may be some days where the motorcycle is not an option.
Wear the right gear
Motorcycle gear protects you from the elements. It’s a balance between the best level of safety you can afford combined with the style you want, but always the optimum fit possible. A decent helmet that fits properly and has not been dropped or damaged, protective jacket and trousers – leather is ideal, but motorcycle textile is also good and if jeans are your thing, then make sure you have a pair of bespoke motorcycling jeans that will offer good protection. Boots should always protect your ankles, and gloves should also be the correct fit whilst making sure they are fit for purpose. Another small piece of advice would be to always dress in layers as that way it’s easier to adjust to any changing weather throughout the day.
Inspect your motorcycle before each ride
It’s a good idea to inspect your motorcycle before you ride to ensure it’s as safe as possible. IAM RoadSmart have put together road safety advice to keep you safe on the road. These POWDERY tips are a great way of ticking off your vehicle checklist before setting off on your journey. https://youtu.be/6V6deoa_fC4
You can’t assume you are visible to other road users. According to GOV.UK, almost half (40%) of motorcycle fatalities in 2 vehicle accidents involved a car. Avoid other drivers’ blind spots, drive with your headlights on even during the day, wear reflective or bright clothing, and always use your turn signals and hand signals.
Be observant and watch for hazards
Riding proactively enables you to anticipate traffic problems and road hazards. Sand, oil and gravel can make you lose traction. Bumps and potholes are equally dangerous and should also be avoided. If you find yourself travelling on country lanes then you can read IAM RoadSmart’s latest tips here.
Stay at a safe distance
Tailgating is not safe. It’s recommended to stay a minimum of 2 seconds away from the vehicle in front of you but extend this if you can improve your vision by doing so. This small piece of advice will allow you to stop in an emergency. Also, it’s good to have an escape route in mind, especially when stopping behind a vehicle in traffic, always aim for a gap if possible. Understanding and managing your stopping distance is one of the most important aspects of safe driving. Here's what you need to know.
Richard Gladman said: “A well-dressed motorcyclist on a well-prepared bike is what we should be aiming to be. Make use of your observation skills to plan your ride, anticipate how other road users are going to interact with you, and plan your progress with this in mind. Never assume another road user has seen you, a taxi pulling to the left may be making a U-turn and until you are sure it’s not, it should be considered as a potential problem to you. A motorcycle ridden with skill and awareness is a joyous thing that will put a smile on the rider’s face. We can help each other not be part of the statistics by being switched on and encouraging each other to get further training – you never stop learning.”
IAM RoadSmart Hints & Tips: