7 Top Tips for Motorcyclists Riding in Traffic
The convenience that motorcycles provide is negated by the fact that they are more prone to accidents. From January to August 2018, the National Capital Region saw 14,707 motorcycle accidents, with 124 resulting in deaths. That's almost five times more than bicycle fatalities in a given year.
Unarguably, it is dangerous to ride a motorcycle in traffic. The experience can be a nightmare, especially for those who are only learning to ride their two-wheelers very recently. Riding successfully in traffic means being quick to react and processing a lot of information at once. Doing it wrong can mean serious injury, and even death. Here are motorcycle safety tips for riding in traffic that are important to understand before you hit any road.
1. Get the right training
Don't overestimate your skill level regardless of how long you've been on a motorcycle. Look up safety training courses, symposiums, and talks for riders online. Keep an eye and ear out for new safety strategies and learn them from the experts.
2. Be visible
Always assume that you are practically invisible to other drivers on the road, even your fellow motorcyclists. Keep your gear bright-colored, especially your helmet and jacket. Stay away from blind spots, and position yourself to be more visible. Avoid riding adjacent to cars, as you could be in the driver's peripheral vision. Keep your distance so that even if the driver changes lanes, you won't get snagged.
3. Pay attention to drivers' heads and mirrors
As you move closer behind a car, watch the head of the driver to anticipate sudden moves. If they look left or right, chances are they're thinking of moving into that direction. If a vehicle is about to veer into your lane, give your horn a short tap to alert the other driver.
4. Use your mirrors along with your peripherals
Your side mirrors don't always tell the complete story. When glancing at your mirrors, follow it up with a quick look-see over your shoulder. By mastering this technique, you'll have an added measure of rear-view and blind-spot knowledge to your info-processing skills.
5. Maintain a buffer zone
In motorcycle school, trainers tell their students to build a buffer zone around them, but this is easier said than done in heavy traffic, because if you leave a gap in front of you, someone else will take that spot. In heavy traffic, the best way to create a buffer is to constantly shift in your lane position. This may annoy other drivers, but it makes you visible to them. Better to be safe than polite.
6. When traffic slows, keep to the sides
As you get nearer to the traffic light, stay to the left or right of the car in front of you. Aside from giving you a way to weave out of traffic, it also prevents you from getting squished if the car behind you can't stop in time.
7. Keep your tire pressure just right
With just two wheels under you, sticking to the recommended pressure of your tires is even more critical for motorcycle riders like you. Over- and under-inflated tires can mean reduced performance, handling, steering, and traction, not to mention extended braking distances--all of which put you at bigger risk on the road. Make sure to check your tire pressure once a week. This prolongs the lifespan of your tires, while also enhancing your safety.