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The Best Way to Handle a Motorcycle Crash… Is To Avoid It In The First Place
Unfortunately not all crashes are avoidable. While we cannot control other drivers or hazards that may come up on the road, we can control how we prepare and respond to them. Here is a list of 15 tips to avoid a potential crash.
- The #1 cardinal rule: Motorcycle Riding is defensive driving at its finest! Always assume that every motorist on the road is not paying attention and may do something that will hurt or kill you. That guy driving toward the intersection. Whether he has his blinker on or not, assume that he may decide to turn left in front of you. Watching his tires, his speed and eyes can be helpful. That woman sitting at the intersection. Assume that she does not see you and will pull out just as the motorcycle reaches the intersection. That guy parked along the curb with his motor running. Assume he’s going to pull out into traffic just you reach him.
- Slow down when approaching intersections, even if no other motorists are visible. Roadways that approach intersections, especially in town, often cannot be properly viewed until you are right at the intersection. Assume vehicles are approaching from both directions at intersections and that they may blow through stop signs. By rolling off the throttle before the intersection and placing your hand over the brake, you will be better prepared to deal with this unexpected danger.
- DO NOT rely on the other driver’s eyes. It may look like the other driver is staring right at the motorcyclist, but many times, drivers are looking right “through” the motorcyclist, and are focusing on the larger vehicles in traffic. In this situation, the motorcycle becomes “invisible” to the motorist.
- DO rely on the other motorist’s wheels. In addition to looking at the eyes of a motorist stopped at an intersection, look at the vehicle’s wheels. If the wheels start to move, the motorcyclist should brake as though the vehicle is going to pull out in front of the motorcycle.
- When a motorcycle and car are approaching an intersection from opposite directions, prepare for the fact that the car might make a lethal left turn in front of the motorcycle. Slow down. Cover the brakes. Be ready to take evasive measures if the car shows any sign of turning. Remember, look at the wheels,in addition to the driver’s eyes.
- A motorcyclist should go through intersections with a vehicle beside them whenever possible. That way, if somebody does run a red light or stop sign, the motorcycle is protected, at least from one direction.
- Check tire pressure and tire condition before riding. Improperly inflated tires can lead to tire failure. The only thing between you and the pavement is your tires. At high speeds, tire failure can be fatal.
- If a car is following a motorcycle too closely (closer than three seconds behind), try waving the car back. If the car won’t move back to a proper following distance, pull over to the shoulder and let them by. If something happens that requires hard braking by a motorcycle with a car following too closely; chances are greatly increased that the car rear-ends the motorcycle. Remember, in a crash, the car (almost) always wins.
- If a car passes and pulls back in front of the motorcycle too closely (again, closer than a three-second gap), brake gently and back off to create the three-second safety buffer. Anything closer, and the motorcyclist doesn’t get enough time to react to things a car can straddle, like dead animals, chunks of tire, potholes, etc.
- Don’t follow vehicles too closely. Keep that minimum three-second safety buffer between the motorcycle and the traffic in front. Any closer, and the risk of rear-ending the vehicle in front in the event of a sudden slow-down increases dramatically. Those folks in the vehicle ahead may be nice people, but the motorcyclist does not want to meet them by coming through the back window.
- Trucks – pass them quickly and keep a maximum distance from the tires. Do not lollygag next to a truck. Be prepared for changes in wind both created by the truck and wind that is blocked by the truck.
- The more lights on the front of your bike, the more likely you will be seen. Headlight, turn signals, road lamps, and/or lights in the lower fairing, and/or light bar on the upper fairing.
- On the back of the bike, bright LED lights, Flashing LED brake lights, Additional Light bars can be very helpful. You may also want to consider and incorporating something reflective, especially on the sides of your bike.
- Don’t ride in the middle of the lane, especially if it is raining out.The middle is where oil, anti-freeze, and other slick fluids from vehicles tends to collect.
- Set your mirrors correctly so you see vehicles approaching from both sides.
Experienced Riders will give you these tips and more. Motorcycle riding is defensive riding at it’s finest. A good ride is one where the rider arrives home safely. If you have any additional tips you would like to share please share them with us. If you haven’t already, like our Road Guardian Facebook page to join the discussion!