SAFETY ARTICLE FOR AUG. 2018
Hello Blue Knight’s, DE1 members. I thought I pass on some basic guidelines for riding a motorcycle safely. Please take the time to read and think about these guidelines and remember the basics are what will keep us safe and alive out there.
- Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and judging the motorcyclists speed and distance.
- Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.
- Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.
- Be aware of the blind spots cars and trucks have and try to stay out of them.
- Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.
- When stopping behind another vehicle always leave yourself room to move forward or around the vehicle in case another vehicle approaching from your rear is not stopping in time.
- Always leave your bike in first gear when stopped at least until the vehicle behind you comes to a complete stop. Many riders are too quick to put their bikes in neutral as soon as they stop. You’ll lose precious time having to shift to first gear.
- Many riders count on their loud pipes to warn car drivers they are nearby. You might be better off purchasing a replacement horn of at least 128 decibels as most factory horns are not nearly loud enough.
Dress for safety:
- Wear a DOT certified helmet and eye protection. IF your helmet has also been certified by the Snell Foundation it has also gone through more rigorous testing.
- Wear bright clothing. All black seems to be preferred by motorcyclist, but it’s very hard to see especially at night time.
- Wear leather or other thick, protective clothing.
- Choose long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, and full finger gloves.
- Remember – the only thing between you and the road is your protective gear. Road Rash is not a pleasant thing to experience first hand.
Apply effective mental strategies:
- Constantly search the road, traffic and weather for changing conditions. Use MSF’s Search, Evaluate and Execute strategy (SEESM) to increase time and space safety margins. Give yourself time and space to react.
- Give yourself space and time to respond to other motorists’ actions. Remember, we have to react to other driver’s movements. Normal reaction time is ¾ of a second. How far will you travel in ¾ of a second? Will you be able to maneuver or stop in the distance you will travel? Something to always think about.
- Give other motorists time and space to respond to you. Remember, motorcycles also have blind spots. Don’t just rely on your mirrors. Always do a head check before changing lanes.
- Use lane positioning to be seen; ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible. Stay out of other driver’s blind spots.
- Watch for turning vehicles. Vehicles turning left in front of a rider are the number one cause of motorcycle accidents. Don’t just assume the driver turning across your path of travel sees you. Ride as though the driver doesn’t. Be prepared.
- Signal your next move in advance. Turn signals are the easiest way to communicate with other vehicles.
- Avoid weaving between lanes. Remember Reaction Time.
- Ride defensively like other drivers don’t see you. Hope for the best but be prepared for the worse.
- Don’t ride when you are tired, stressed out, or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. This includes over the counter drugs if they can affect your abilities to operate a motorcycle safely.
- Know and follow the rules of the road and obey the speed limit. Ride within your abilities. A man or woman has got to know their limitations!
Know your bike and how to it handles:
- Get formal training and take refresher courses. If you have never taken a MSF certified course think about it. I was pleasantly surprised at what I learned in the Basic Rider Course when I took it in 2004 to start my MC instructor training and I had been riding since 1972. Like the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. We never stop learning especially when it comes to motorcycling.
- Practice. Take the time to go to an “empty” parking lot. Practice quick stops, swerving and slow maneuvering skills like U-Turns. These skills will help save your life out there. Our skills diminish quickly if we don’t practice them.
- Always use both brakes when stopping. In an emergency this is what you will do if it’s what you always practice. You don’t want to be spending precious time thinking about just using the front brake, rear brake or both brakes in an emergency. Wow, I wonder how far you travelled thinking about that. I hate hearing riders say, “Don’t use the front brake, it will put you and your bike on the ground or send you flying over the handlebars.” My response is of course, “Maybe you should learn how to properly use the front brake.” You will be able to stop much quicker and in a shorter distance by using both brakes together.
As the Safety Officer for our Blue Knight’s DE1 chapter I would like to provide whatever safety tips or training materials I can to help all of us to be safe and responsible motorcyclists. If there are any safety topics or issues you would like me to address or research just let me know. I can address these in the monthly safety article, meeting or just a friendly email out to our members.
Bruce Taylor / Safety Officer / Blue Knights DE 1 August 9, 2018