Responsible motorcycle riding
When you get on a motorcycle, you have to be aware of the awesome responsibility not only for your own safety but also for the safety of other drivers and riders. For this reason, it is important to take into account a series of considerations and advice before riding. For the safety of everyone, it is your responsibility to have an intimate feel and understanding of your equipment, riding technique, the condition of your motorcycle, and the traffic flow itself.
Here are Continental’s top tips to follow to get the most from your motorcycling experience.
1. Rider’s equipment
First and foremost, the driver, as well as the passenger, must wear the proper equipment for riding a motorcycle. The use of a helmet is mandatory (or at least it should be), but remember that it must be DOT approved, the right size, with the correct fastener. Our recommendation is that you choose a full-face helmet, as it offers better protection than open-face helmets in general. Gloves are also essential for protection as well as the corresponding equipment for the rest of the body. The best practice is to have clothing that is designed specifically for motorcycling, including gloves, pants, jacket and boots. Motorcycle clothing should have special abrasion protection and reflective elements. Additionally, clothing engineered for motorcycling are designed especially for cold or hot weather and usually include waterproof materials to protect you when it rains.
2. Riding with your eyes
You’ve probably heard in driving school or elsewhere about the recommendation to ‘look away’ when riding a motorcycle. This technique involves fixing your eyes on the area where you are heading or where you want to go with your vehicle. In this way, you help your motorcycle to follow the direction more accurately.
Also keep in mind that mirrors are not for show, so it is important to glance left and right with a high frequency, for example, every 5-10 seconds in the city and every 15-20 seconds on the highway. With this routine, you will be able to keep a close eye on almost everything that is happening around you which helps when anticipating possible risks. Additionally, when performing any movement (changes of direction or lane), don’t forget your blind spots which are outside the angle of vision of your rearview mirror. Every so often, take a side glance to make sure that there is no vehicle passing.
Some people so at attitude is more important than technique when riding. Think about the possible movements of other vehicles, no matter how crazy or incorrect they may seem, and leave enough space to be able to react to them in time.
4. Safety distances
Continuing with these anticipation measures, it is important to take into account the so-called safety distances, those that allow you to modify speed or change direction before a possible collision. You should always maintain a suitable distance to the vehicle in front of you. Your distance should allow you to brake or stop before a possible collision. It is often referred to as the ‘2-second rule’, which consists of counting 2 seconds of space from the time the vehicle passes a fixed point on the road until you pass it, or 3 seconds on interurban roads. That said, it is up to you to decide whether you need 3 seconds or more in more difficult circumstances of adhesion such as the state of the asphalt or rain.
In this section, we are going to discuss overtaking and how to assess the safety circumstances with respect to the vehicle you are overtaking and the necessary distance to complete the overtaking maneuver without compromising other users. In addition, you must remember that you can no longer exceed the maximum speed in overtaking, so the maneuver has to be done in more time and space.
5. Motorcycle check-up
For some it is a truism, but it is necessary to remember that your motorcycle needs periodic inspections. At Continental, we always recommend checking the condition of the tires every few days (once a week), checking the pressure, the general condition of the rubber and the depth of the tread. In the event of excessive or abnormal wear, we recommend replacing the tires with new ones.
It is also a good habit to check the lighting (position lights, dipped, full beam, turn signals and license plate), the condition of the mirrors, the brakes (fluid, cables, discs or drums), the levels of oil and other fluids, the transmission (chain, cardan and belt) and the engine (fluid leaks, noises and air, oil and gasoline filters).
6. Zero alcohol, zero drugs
Of course, forget about alcohol. Don’t think about the limit (0.25 mg/l exhaled air). Keep in mind that drinking alcoholic beverages negatively affects your driving abilities and increases the risk of an accident exponentially. Drugs produce equally detrimental effects. Also be aware if you are on medication. Consult your doctor in case it affects you in any way or makes it incompatible with driving because of possible adverse effects that may put you at risk.
7. Caution in urban environments and on short journeys
Riders tend to lower their guard in urban environments and on short journeys. This lack of concentration and focus is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Data shows that most accidents occur within a short distance of your home, so always keep your guard up when riding. It doesn’t matter if the journey is a few clicks or cross-country. The more focused you are on the road ahead, the safer it will be for everyone you come across.
8. More care in adverse conditions
When driving conditions are less than optimal, you have to be extra careful and attentive. In situations of rain, snow, night or low visibility, it is not only necessary to exercise extreme caution but also to take certain measures such as reducing speed, increasing safety distances, resting more often and changing your riding style. For example, avoiding stepping on the paint in wet conditions, driving in longer gears and braking and accelerating more gently to avoid loss of grip, or adjusting speed to visibility in foggy conditions.
9. What to do in case of a fall
If you suffer a fall, the first thing to do is to let go of the handlebars so as not to be dragged by the motorcycle. Do not try to get up before your whole body has stopped so as not to suffer further falls and blows. No matter how slight the fall may have been, take some time to rest, assess, and, if necessary, ask for help. Also make a complete check of the bike to see if you can continue with it. If you have the slightest doubt about the condition of your bike, you should error on the side of caution and ask for assistance with a tow truck so that it can be checked in the garage. In any case, after such a crash, it is advisable to have a professional check in depth if important elements have been affected such as brakes, lights, engine, wheels (rims and tires) or battery.
10. What to do in case you witness an accident
In the event you witness an accident, you should offer assistance and call for help. First, make sure you are safe; and make sure victims of the accident are safe. Then, call 911 so that medical professionals can arrive as soon as possible. Finally, offer additional assistance as is appropriate based on your training or the circumstances. Try not to move the injured unless there is no other choice. Remember you can worsen a situation or exacerbate injuries if you move a seriously injured person.
Next time you’re thinking about taking your bike out for a ride, just remember what Benjamin Franklin once said. “Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” The more you practice good habits, the more they will become a part of your everyday routines. Good habits can be made with practice. And by practicing these habits, you will be well on your way to a safer riding experience.
Can you think of more good tiding habits? Share them with us!