Safe Motorcycle Driving
Driving a motorcycle is riskier than driving a car. It should be pretty obvious that when you are in a car, you are surrounded by a nice, sturdy steel cage. A steel cage that is outfitted with airbags and seatbelts inside, too. Motorcycles, of course, leave you out in the open and quite vulnerable. If you are a safe motorcycle operator then your risk is lower but it never goes away; you have to always look out for “the other guy.” With the help of Akins Dodge of Winder, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Winder, GA, we have assembled a few techniques you can use when you ride.
The danger zone
One of the riskiest situations for a motorcyclist is also the most common: the divided, or two lane road. The relative high speeds, frequent lane changes, and general traffic congestion on two lane roads make them a minefield. To survive driving on two lane roads, a motorcyclist needs to obsessively aware. You can’t take on the semi-passive driving attitude that people have when driving a car. You have to constantly be on the watch for “the other guy.”
The hazard you’re most likely to encounter is a car merging into you. Drivers who are careless routinely change lanes without much of a glance. Even responsible drivers will inadvertently move over lanes if they don’t see you. To minimize the risk, keep a lookout for brake lights, turn signals and sudden head movements (looking around before they merge). And, if possible don’t ride side by side with cars.
A very dangerous spot to be is in a driver’s blind spot (the area just behind a car’s front doors). If they don’t see you then they will assume the coast is clear and may move into your lane. You solution is to be as conspicuous as possible by choosing positions that place you where drivers can easily see you, either through their windows or in their mirrors. It’s important to understand that you have blind spots too. Typical motorcycle mirrors aren’t great at revealing what’s around you, so take a quick glance to be sure it’s safe before changing lanes.
Although it is easy to do, don’t tailgate or drive close to any cars on the road. Always have a good buffer between you and surrounding vehicles so that you have time to react to any problems. Heavy highway traffic doesn’t always allow a good buffer distance so here’s a work around: position yourself to the left or right in your driving spot to create an escape path between lanes if you need it.
When entering the highway, use the entrance ramp to accelerate up to speed before merging. Think about it: a driver may think he/she doesn’t have any vehicle near them and all the sudden you are there. Unless your motorcycle is loud enough to be noticeable, they may have no idea that a motorcycle is near them. Bottom line: don’t surprise drivers.
And loose stuff
Another thing to look out for is poorly secured loads on car rooftops and in truck and trailer beds. You clearly don’t want anything to smack into you when you are driving. And for heaven’s sake, don’t follow construction trucks!
You can cut your risk odds down to almost nothing by staying alert and driving defensively. Driving a motorcycle is a very different exercise than driving a car. The best thing you can do is to internalize that realization as soon as you get on a motorcycle and head out.
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