Next weekend marks the official start of Spring. As the weather warms, bikers will take to the roads in large numbers.
Unfortunately, riding season also brings the statistics detailed in my previous article. As we head into this year’s season, now is a good time to review what bikers and drivers can do to share the road safely.
Tips for Drivers
Drivers predominantly look for other cars, especially after a long winter without seeing motorcycles. Motorcycles are smaller, more vertically oriented and easy to overlook. Motorcycles are also more vulnerable, making it imperative for drivers to make a conscious effort to see motorcycles. Here are a few tips that may help:
- Look specifically for motorcycles. Once you start looking for motorcycles, you will begin to see them everywhere. Think back to the last new car you purchased. Chances are good that as soon as you bought it, you began to see a lot of other cars just like it! Those cars were always there, you just weren’t noticing them before. The same is true of motorcycles, look for them and you will begin to see them!
- Recognize motorcycle headlights. As a safety feature, motorcycle headlights are required to be on at all times, much like daytime running lights on cars. This makes motorcycles more visible, especially in the distance.
- Listen for motorcycles. Motorcycles have a distinct sound. Crack the window, turn down the radio and listen as you look. The combination of sight and sound may help you recognize the motorcycle coming down the road towards you.
- Motorcycle tail lights can “blend-in.” Approaching red lights, be aware that motorcycle tail/brake lights may blend-in with the lights of other vehicles, particularly at night. Pay particular attention as you approach intersections, looking carefully for motorcycles.
- Recognize danger zones. Most crashes involving cars and motorcycles occur at intersections. In many cases, the car driver stated that they never saw the motorcycle. Be more aware at intersections to avoid becoming a statistic!
Tips for Bikers
Motorcycling presents risks that all riders should recognize. Awareness of the risk is the first step to creating a safer ride. Here are a few tips to help make riding season a little safer:
- Being seen is a rider’s responsibility. Knowing that drivers don’t see us, it’s up to us to make sure we’re seen. Bright gear and good road placement make a big difference.
- Utilize a strategy to manage risk. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends the S.E.E. strategy. S.E.E. stands for Search, Evaluate and Execute. Search for hazards, risks and dangers. Evaluate possible responses and develop a plan. Execute your plan to ride safely.
- The right gear makes a difference. Proper riding gear makes you safe and comfortable. Equipment designed for riding will keep you cool when it is hot, warm when it is cold and dry when it is wet. Investing in the right gear provides protection, comfort and security.
- Ride your own ride. Know your limits and ride within your abilities.
- Inspect your bike regularly. A pre-ride check should be a normal part of your routine. Check your tire pressure, especially after a long winter. Low tire pressure is the most common cause of tire failure.
- Become a life-long learner. Consider additional rider training to hone your skills. The Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program offers the “Experienced Rider Course.” Howard Community College offers Lee Park’s “Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic.” These classes are great to refresh skills, especially after a long winter.
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