As spring comes around many motorcyclists are itching to get out on the road and enjoy the freedom of hitting the road on two wheels. But along with motorcycle season comes the need for some extra caution on the road. When you haven’t been riding over the winter months, it’s easy to become rusty in your riding skills and to forget important safety practices. For those riding for the first time, it’s even more important to use caution on the road.
The Importance of Awareness
As a motorcyclist, you know that you are harder to see on the road than a larger vehicle, and many accidents happen as a result of drivers in cars having difficulty seeing riders. Of course, it’s up to drivers to be aware of motorcycles, but it also falls to riders to be aware of the movements of cars around them and to make an effort to be as visible as possible.
The first step to visibility is to make sure you stand out. Choose motorcycle gear that is brightly colored and easy to see. Reflective gear is a must at night when the single headlight of a motorcycle is harder to see. Your choice of riding gear has a big impact on other drivers’ ability to see you. Black may be classic riding gear, but it is very difficult to see, especially at night.
You also need to have a heightened awareness of the actions of other drivers. Keep your attention on the road and the cars around you and try to anticipate what the cars around you will do. Don’t tailgate, as a sudden move by a vehicle in front of you can be dangerous when riding. Be sure to signal every time you change lanes or turn so that drivers can anticipate your movements.
Riding Cautiously and Safely
A mistake that causes a minor accident in car can be a serious accident in a motorcycle, so driving cautiously is vital when you are out on two wheels. Follow all posted speed limits and adhere to all of the rules of the road.
Driving between lanes is tempting, especially in heavy traffic, but it is also incredibly dangerous. When you come up in between lanes unexpectedly, a driver changing lanes or making a turn may not see you in time. Although your motorcycle is capable of maneuvers that a car can’t make, that doesn’t mean they are a good idea or a safe one.
Take corners carefully; going too fast on a curve is likely to result in laying the bike down. You may also come around a corner too fast and find an obstruction that you can’t stop in time to avoid. Riding a curving road can be a lot of fun, but be sure to handle the turns safely.
Gear Up for Safety
Remember that visibility is not the only thing that is important when it comes to motorcycle gear. Your jacket, pants, boots and helmet are all designed to be your protection on the road. They are functional and are the only thing standing between you and injury in the case of an accident. Check your gear before you put it on and replace anything showing wear or damage. This is especially vital for your helmet, the most important – and legally required – piece of motorcycle equipment.
Wear the proper gear every time you ride. A sunny day may feel like a great time to ride without a jacket, but serious injuries can happen even in minor accidents when you fail to protect your skin. Reinforced pants and heavy boots are the best choice every time you ride, even if it is warm outside. Today’s high tech fabrics can allow breathability along with safety.
Check your Insurance
Before you head out on the road, make sure your insurance policy is paid up and in force. The beginning of the riding season is the perfect time to shop around for motorcycle insurance and ensure you are getting a good deal on your premiums. While you are shopping around, be sure to review your coverage and make certain you have all of the policy options you want and need. You could get better coverage for the same price or even less by taking the time to shop around.
Don’t ever ride without your motorcycle policy in force. It’s best to keep your policy throughout the winter even if you are not riding, but if you have chosen to cancel over the winter months make certain you have the policy back up and running before heading out on the road. Not only is it illegal to ride without insurance, it could be a financial disaster if there is a serious accident. Ride safely and legally every time.