Around 4,500 people die on motorcycles every year in the US, with over 5,000 reported as seriously injured in the UK in 2011. Many of these accidents will have involved cars as well, so what can riders do to reduce the risks of being involved in a serious or fatal incident on their motorcycle?
Wear the correct gear
It is absolutely essential that motorcycle riders invest in appropriate, high quality clothing and safety gear to ensure that, in the event of an accident, the head and body are protected as best they can be. J&S Accessories are one of the biggest retailers of motorcycle accessories in the UK, and they know as well as anyone the importance of purchasing quality equipment.
“The helmet and leathers are certainly not areas where you want to skimp on,” says J&S’ Alex Johnson.
“If you try and save some money by buying a second hand helmet that isn’t in great condition or clothing that doesn’t quite fit you perfectly you could end up paying with your life.” Being seen at all times is one of the major challenges for bikers as well, so it is advisable to wear a hi-visibility jacket over the top of your leather jacket – particularly at night – to ensure other road users can spot you easily.
Consider the conditions
What the weather is like outside should determine how you ride. If there is a lot of water on the roads or there is ice or snow around then you need to bear in mind increased stopping distances as well as the fact that corners and turns need to be taken with a lot more caution.
With this in mind, you need to leave a lot more time when pulling out in front of, or turning into a junction in front of, a car or other vehicle. You will also need to leave a larger space between you and the vehicle in front of you, with at least 10 seconds being the recommended distance. Poor driving conditions such as heavy rain can also significantly reduce visibility, making the wearing of clothing such as a hi-vis. even more important. You will also need to consider how well you can be seen when overtaking other vehicles.
Move through traffic queues with caution
One of the advantages to being a motorcyclist is that you can ride straight through traffic jams and traffic queues, however it is important that when you do so, you proceed with caution. In these situations cars will often weave between lanes, sometimes with little in the way of signalling, so this is something you need to watch out for – particularly if you see a gap opening up in one of the lanes ahead of you that a car could move into.
Expect the unexpected
Unfortunately, even when you do everything right as a motorcyclist, sometimes it is the actions of others that will result in an accident. Ultimately, you have to treat everyone that is on the road as if they are a total idiot, and expect them to behave as such. So what does this mean in practice? Essentially you need to give other vehicles plenty of warning before carrying out a manoeuvre, give plenty of room to the car in front and be aware that someone may pull out of a junction in front of you or cut you up at any opportunity. John Rooney is a motorbike and car enthusiast who blogs about issues affecting both on behalf of J&S Accessories – a leading name in the supply of quality and affordable motorcycle accessories in the UK.