How to practice safe motorcycle driving
Motorcycles and scooters are the new kings of the road and every Filipino family seems to own one. Recent data from motorcycle manufacturers suggest that there are close to 4 million motorcycles in the country. While they are economical and enjoyable to ride, motorcycles can cause serious accidents as they have very few safety features compared to cars. To avoid this, riders need to practice safe motorcycle driving.
Motorcycle accidents in the Philippines
An average of 16, 208 motorcycle accidents occur in the country each year, based on the survey of Yamaha Philippines. In the last quarter of 2012 alone, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 13, 883 road accidents that involved motorbikes or tricycles. The same survey identified that 9 out of every 10 people who were dead on arrival at the hospital had not been wearing a helmet.
Good motorcycle driving practices
Always wear your helmet
It is mandated by the Motorcycle Helmet Law of 2009 that every motorcycle rider should wear their helmet whenever they are on the road. However, most Filipinos choose not to because of various reasons. One of which is neglecting to understand the possibility of colliding with road obstacles or other vehicles. Another reason is the poor implementation of the law, both in rural and urban areas.
When buying a helmet, make sure that it has a Philippine Standard (PS) or an Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) mark. Also note that the only people exempt from wearing helmets are tricycle drivers.
Wear in the proper gear
When you are travelling long distances, such as to the countryside or touring with your motorcycle club, make sure that you have the right attire. You can check out our previous article about the ten things that every biker should have.
Some of this equipment includes: a closed shoe for better grip on the pedal, vest reflectors for better visibility when travelling at night time, jackets to protect you from the breezy air and gloves to protect your hands from friction when throttling.
Stay in the motorcycle lane
A lot of Filipinos prefer to own motorcycles because of their ability to navigate through traffic by jumping from one lane to another. However, there are roads, such as EDSA and Macapagal, that require you to stay in one lane only.
Also, do not try to sandwich yourself between two cars or larger vehicles while attempting to change lanes. You may find yourself in a predicament that you can’t get out of. Always respect traffic laws and good driving discipline. It is not advisable to accelerate especially on sharp corners where there are plenty of blind spots.
Good motorcycle maintenance will not cost you a fortune, but it may save your life. Checking if you have enough brake fluid, properly inflated tires, and enough battery power is crucial, especially if you are driving your motorcycle on a daily basis. When the treads of your tires are fading, replace them so as not to slip on wet roads.
Be very cautious on roads where cars or other large vehicles are also driving. Often times motorcycle drivers are less distracted than those who are driving four-wheeled vehicles. In instances where a possible collision could occur, motorbike riders have a better chance to react.
This means that you must drive with confidence and assertiveness when you hit the road. An assertive driver has the insight to choose the proper lane which can increase his visibility. He also uses his horn only when he needs to alert someone of danger, and not just to attract unwanted attention.
Follow road signs
When driving, always take some time to interpret and follow the different road signs, especially if you are unfamiliar with the route you are taking. One of the most neglected warning signs is the speed limit. Following this simple rule can keep you safe, especially if you need to perform defensive driving.
When you see a sign that tells you the road ahead is going to have bends, reduce your speed. A lot of motorcycle accidents are caused by drivers speeding while turning into sharp turns (under-cornering) and over-braking. This results in slide-outs and falls that result in injuries or even death.
Avoid lane sharing
It is advisable not to share the same lane with another motorcycles, especially if you are going at top speeds. This is because an obstacle (a pedestrian or animal crossing) may show up while the both of you may try to avoid them, one of you may have to take the safety zone of the other. This may lead one of you to swerve into the next rider or simply wreck to the side. A staggered formation is always advisable as it provides excellent visibility. Only at a stop light must motorcycles be parallel to one another.