There are hazards on the road: car drivers who aren’t looking for motorcyclists, debris falling off trucks, tire treads flying across the freeway, etc. You know what we’re talking about.
Riders also must deal with dangers such as slippery metal plates on the road and ride in blazing sun or pouring rain.
Here are some tips to help keep you safe.
1. SEE. Search, Evaluate, Execute. It’s a good idea to really make a conscious effort to see what is around you. Don’t merely look, with your mind really on something else. SEARCH for potential hazards, EVALUATE what is going on around you and EXECUTE actions to stay out of trouble.
2. Assume car and truck drivers don’t see you. The most common car-motorcycle crash involves an approaching car making a left turn in front of the motorcycle. The driver commonly claims he or she never saw the bike. Slow down when approaching an intersection or a car about to make a left turn, and be prepared to stop quickly
3. Play “What if…” “What if (blank) happens, what will I do?” This helps you plan for the unexpected. What if that approaching car turns left in front of you? What if there is a car stalled in the middle of the road around this blind corner? What if a tire explodes on that semi in the next lane? What if your own tire quickly deflates?
4. Where should you position yourself in your lane on the road? Left of center isn’t always best. It depends on what’s happening around you. Keep as much space as possible between you and cars, trucks, walls or anything else that could pose a danger. You may find yourself changing your lane position quite often.
5. Look where you want to go. Simply put, the motorcycle will go where you look. So don’t fixate on that car coming toward you, or that parked car, or that pothole or that tree, especially in a panic situation.
6. Practice. Can you brake without locking up the wheels? Practice in a safe place, gradually building up braking until you find the limits of traction. Braking is especially important to practice, and you will probably find that you can stop in less distance than you thought possible. Swerving is another good skill to practice, to avoid such things as potholes.
7. Ride your own ride. Your motorcycling buddies will probably want you to go riding with them. Do it. Group rides are a lot of fun and a great way to share adventure. But ride your own ride, meaning don’t do anything unsafe. If the group is riding faster than you are comfortable with, let them go ahead. Know where the group is headed before the ride starts so you can meet up with the group there later. If the group passes a vehicle but you don’t feel safe doing it, wait until later to make the pass or wait for the vehicle to leave the road.