Motorcycle riding tips
There’s no getting around it: four-wheeled vehicles are massive metal beasts; motorcycles are not. When collisions happen, motorcycles and their riders get the worst of it, regardless of who’s at fault.
In 2016 alone, the Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System posted 218 motorcycle deaths and 23,105 injuries.
And despite these figures and the ever-present dangers from distracted, impatient, or drunk motorists/fellow riders, pot holes, and traffic snarls—riders still take to the road.
Every rider will confirm that a motorcycle is not simply a means to get from point A to point B. There’s the sense of freedom and the ability to get to their destinations quickly and to escape traffic snarl-ups.
They also take pleasure in their ability to easily maneuver through traffic and weave in and out of through different lanes, something that a responsible rider will not do since this could pose a danger to other motorists and riders.
A responsible rider must be able to expect the unexpected and do everything in his/her power to make the trip as safe as possible.
As we all strive to become better, safer and more reliable riders, these are some of the basic tips that should be known to anyone who realizes the importance of safety on a motorcycle:
Helmet. Here in the Philippines, there’s a law—Republic Act 10054—passed in 2010 that mandates all motorcycle riders (yes, including police officers) to wear while riding Philippine Standard- or Import Commodity Clearance-compliant motorcycle helmets (and not the type meant for skating, baseball, combat or mountain biking).
In fact, there’s a penalty for not wearing or donning a law-compliant helmet: a fine of P1,500 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, P5,000 for the third offense, and P10,000 plus confiscation of the driver’s license for the fourth and succeeding offenses.
There’s a reason why motorcycle helmets are mandated: we can’t predict when an accident will happen, and if the unfortunate does occur, a good helmet will distribute the force of an impact, protect the rider from various flying objects ranging from small insects to gravel, and stay tightly fixed on the motorcycle rider’s head to provide a modicum of protection even after the accident.
It is important to select a helmet that fits your head as perfectly as possible.
In order to wear your helmet comfortably, you should try helmets with different paddings.
You should also consider some other important features such as airflow and sound insulation (soundproofing).
Riding clothes/equipment. It may seem too ostentatious or bothersome to wear riding equipment—jacket, pants, gloves, protective padding, boots—when you are just going to a nearby supermarket.
But if you fall off your motorcycle and slide on the road or hit your head on the pavement, you’ll thank yourself for deciding to wear a complete gear.
Follow traffic rules. Most fatalities happen when riders decide to ignore simple traffic rules.
While operating a motorcycle requires different skills compared to driving a car, the laws of the road apply to every rider just the same.
A combination of consistent education, regard for traffic laws, and basic common sense can go a long way in helping reduce the amount of fatalities involved in motorcycle accidents on a yearly basis.
Be aware of motorists’ blind spots. Don’t assume that a driver can see you, as nearly two-thirds of motorcycle accidents are caused by a driver violating a rider’s right of way.
You should always ride with your headlights on (even during daytime).
Stay out of a driver’s blind spot (the area on the right side of the driver).
Signal well in advance of any change in direction or lane, and watch for turning vehicles.
Tires. Unlike cars, a motorcycle has only two wheels that the rider depends on. This is why the tires’ optimal condition must be maintained.
A worn-down tire poses a great safety risk so you should always know when it is time to buy a new set.
Moreover, you should always check your tires’ pressure (refer to manufacturer’s instructions) because this could lead to bursting or premature wearing.
Check overall condition. If you could find time adding decals or artworks to your motorcycles, the more you should invest in making sure your ride will not conk out, leaving you stranded in the middle of the road.
Making sure that your motorcycle is fit for the road is just as important as practicing safe riding.
Inspect the chain by spinning the rear wheel and check if it runs smoothly.
Check if there are any gasoline or oil leaks.
More importantly, see if all of the lights (signal, brakes) and other electronic equipment are working.
It is true that a motorcycle rarely offers any extra space for additional equipment, but try to find space for a first aid kit and tire repair kit, and even emergency lights or a signaling system. You never know when any of them might come in handy.
Find time to complete a formal riding education program. It’s not enough that you have secured a license to drive. A competent riding instructor will be able to impart riding techniques and street-riding strategies that can only enhance your safety on the road.
Be awake and ride sober. Don’t drink and ride as this will surely cause harm to yourself and others.
Additionally, fatigue and drowsiness can impair your ability to react, so make sure that you are well rested when you hit the road.
These are obviously just some of the basic tips you should consider to improve your safety as a motorcycle rider.
An important advice is to drive according to your abilities and with proper regard to road conditions.
Along with all of the above, another important part of safety on the road is experience.
Experience enables us to react in a proper way when faced with a dangerous situation.
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