Safety tips when riding a motorcycle
Motorcycle users are far more vulnerable than other road users. This statement is supported by a large number of statistics and governmental research from all over the world. By and large, it’s a fact – so it’s essential that you take every health and safety precaution that you can, if you are going to stay safe on the road.
Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
In the UK, you’ll first need to get a provisional licence to become registered with the Drivers Vehicle Licensing Agency. It is then mandatory to complete your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for which you will receive a certificate. Following this, you’ll have to pass a theory test and then both parts of your practical test in order to obtain your motorbike license. Failure to do this, means that you’ll have to start the whole process again.
Whether or not you choose to partake in any motorcycle riding courses is up to you, however we would strongly recommend that you do so as the course will teach you about the traffic laws that apply to motorbikes in the UK, how to react to emergency situations on a bike and will give you the opportunity to try out your new experiences in a controlled environment.
Choose the Correct Gear
Get a Good Helmet
First and foremost, get an approved motorcycle helmet. This is the cheapest and most effective option, which is an absolute must for protecting your head and face against serious injuries. A motorcycle helmet usually comes intact with a face shield and eye protection, but if it doesn’t, then it’s best to invest in some for all-round head and face protection.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Leather clothing will protect well against the elements (namely, the wind and the rain), also having boots with non-skid soles and gloves will protect your feet and hands from severe injury.
Consider wearing reflective tape to make it easier for other road users to see you.
Motorcyclists in the UK account for just 1% of total road traffic, but account for 19% of all road user deaths and serious injuries. In fact, motorcyclists are roughly 38 times more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident than car or lorry drivers.
To minimise the likelihood of death or injury, the following tips are very useful:
- Don’t assume that other road users can see you;
- Always ride with your headlights on;
- Stay out of a driver’s blind spot;
- Signal well in advance of any change in direction;
- Don’t overtake just because you can, make sure it’s safe to do so.
Before you start your journey, make sure that all the functions on your motorbike are running correctly.
- Tyres: Check for any cracks or bulges, or signs of wear in the treads (low tyre pressure or any defects could cause a blowout)
- Beneath the motorcycle: Look any signs oil or gas leaks
- Headlight, taillight and signals: Make sure that all lights are functioning properly (particularly the high and low beams)
- Hydraulic and Coolant fluid levels: Should be checked on a weekly basis
- Clutch and throttle
- Mirrors: Ensure that they are clean and properly adjusted
- Brakes: should be firm and hold the motorcycle still when applied fully
- Horn: test it is working and fully audible
Once you’re on your bike, make sure that you stay safe for the rest of your motorbike life by following these tips:
- Follow traffic rules and obey the speed limit
- Never drink and drive
- Remember tiredness can impair your reactions, so take regular breaks on long journeys
- Stay alert and defensive, and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front
- Watch for road hazards
- Avoid riding in bad weather
Lastly, your learning never stops and road traffic regulations are constantly changing. So don’t be afraid to take advanced motorbike courses, once you have passed your test, even if you have been motorbiking for many years you’ll still learn something new.
The GOV.UK and Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA) websites have a myriad of online resources for those wanting to get on a motorbike, so they would be good starting points.