Riding a motorcycle is riskier than driving a car. In fact, a crash as a motorcyclist is almost 30 times more likely to be fatal than as a motorist.
Please review these important steps to stay safe as a motorcyclist.
Take a Safety Course
A safety course will teach you the rules of the road for motorcycles. You will also learn the appropriate actions to take in unpredictable riding situations that can arise. Driving a motorcycle requires skill and good judgment and a safety course can help you practice these. Consider an advanced riding course to learn collision avoidance maneuvers, advanced turning, control tips and braking techniques.
No matter how hot it is outside, shorts, a T-shirt and sandals are not proper riding attire. You can go for extreme protection with leathers or reinforced jackets, pants and boots.
Glasses or goggles are necessary if you have an open-faced helmet and to protect your hands, you should always wear gloves. In warm weather, there is specially designed gear that is intended for ventilation and cooling. Never ride without a DOT (Department of Transportation) approved helmet.
Make sure your motorcycle is in proper working order every time you go for a ride. This includes checking tire pressure, mirrors and lights. Taking a quick walk around your bike will give you an idea if there are any loose bolts, leaks or other potential mechanical hazards. Be diligent about regular care and maintenance. Ensure all lighting is in working order to ensure you are as visible as possible.
Stay in the Comfort Zone
Know your abilities and make sure that neither your chosen route nor motorcycle is more than you can handle. Never ride beyond your skill level.
Use Your Head
Do not rely solely on your mirrors to remain aware of what is in your immediate riding space. It is important to keep your head and eyes up while rounding corners and that the safest way to change lanes is to actually turn and look over your shoulder to make sure you are clear. You will also be able to get a feeling for whether other drivers are paying attention to you. “ Clear” intersections before entering them. This mean look both ways when you proceed to ensure traffic is in a stopped position. Look for “red-light runners”. Use “eye-lead”, look as far ahead as possible to anticipate what lies ahead. Look for driveways, cyclists, pedestrians and all road users.
Watch the Road
Pay attention to the road you are riding on. Err on the side of caution when going into curves; be vigilant for potential gravel or other unstable road conditions. Be careful when crossing railroad tracks because the paint can be slippery—the same goes for the white lines at stoplights. Ride in the “tracks” not in the centre of the lane. This helps to avoid oil and fluids that may be on the road and will maintain lane integrity.
No Safety in Numbers
Group rides can be risky due to riders covering too much of the roadway, riders driving side-by-side, and having a mix of riders of various skill levels. Hold a pre-ride meeting to talk about your ride strategy and to review hand signals. Select a skilled group lead and sweep. Keep your group size manageable. Ride only in a staggered formation. Leave a safe and proper following distance between motorcycles. Take breaks to prevent fatigue.
Road safety is a shared responsibility. As a car driver, be aware of your blind spots, slow down behind motorcycles, do not tailgate, and use your turn signals. One of the most common causes of collisions between motorcycles and cars is the car driver turning left in front of the oncoming motorcycle, often due to speeding or lack of visibility. If driving a vehicle and making a turn or changing lanes, “look twice, turn once”.
Never Drive Impaired
Operating a motorcycle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or fatigue, puts you and all road users at risk.
Learn more about the Highway Traffic Act
To learn more about the Highway Traffic Act and other laws in Ontario, visit Ontario's e-Laws website.
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