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motorcycle safety
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Motorcycle Safety
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Motorcycle Safety

ACCREDITED COURSES

For all newer drivers, I could not more highly recommend an accredited motorcycle safety course. The new rider will be taught many of the riding and safety skills that some people learn much too late, if at all. In many places, you even get a deduction on your insurance for talking the course. Bad habits, once picked up, are hard to get rid of. Learn the proper skills the easy way as your life depends on it. Remember that, as a motorcycle rider, any accident means, “You lose!”

SQUIDS

Motorcycle Safety is something that everyone needs to practice. Not just when you are new to riding but each and every minute you are on the road. A motorcycle is one of the safest vehicles on the road but only up to the point of impact. You don’t have the safety of a cage around you. Today, any kid old enough to get a driver’s license can buy a machine that would be the envy of any GP racer of years gone by. The handling of modern machines is such that many young, inexperienced drivers have an exaggerated view of their riding abilities. These machines lull newbies into thinking they can do anything with a motorcycle and do not realize they are in trouble until it is too late. There is even a new term coined for these young “non-thinkers”; SQUID (Squirrely Kid) Statistics and graveyards are full of them.

CLOTHING

Unfortunately, motorcycle safety does not apply just the Squids. Almost daily, I see middle aged men riding beautiful cruisers but doing so in very unsafe ways. Most prevalent and preventable is tailgating. I cringe when I see someone riding five feet from a car bumper. You can always tell an older inexperienced rider. They shell out tons of money for a great bike but then you see them riding in shorts, T-shirts, runners and no gloves. They are totally unprepared for a spill which can come any second by being cut off, loose gravel, animal interactions, etc. I would rather lose my leathers to the road than my skin. Wear the proper riding apparel. You may also see many riders wearing high visibility (road worker style) vests. It may not be for everyone but it is good idea along with always riding with your headlight on.

EYE PROTECTION

Most of us wear eye protection but what kind? A pair of everyday sunglasses will keep that bee from giving you a shiner but eye protection should be more than that. Whether you like goggles or sunglasses, dedicated motorcycle eye-wear will keep the dust and wind out of your eyes. While UV protection is great, I find polarized eye-wear gives you much better visibility in all conditions. Spend a bit more and get a good pair. Cheap polarized goggles or sunglasses simply have the polarizing film sprayed on. It is easily scratched or rubbed off which ruins them. You pay more money for something like an Oakley because the polarizing material is within the lens material making it far more durable.

HELMETS

A much overlooked item the helmet. People often pick them up used and really don’t know their history. A helmet which has been dropped can have its integrity impaired even though it looks fine. Make sure your helmet fits properly and that you do not wear it loosely as it can come completely off your head in a spill leaving your coconut vulnerable. Don’t go with cool looking beanies. You might as well spray paint the top of your head for all the protection they will give you and make sure your helmet is DOT approved.

MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE

Like our cars, many people simply jump on their bikes day after day and never think to give it a good walk around. I once found a nail in my rear tire that I did not even know I had because it had sealed itself. Most tires, over time, slowly lose air pressure. Check your tire pressure on a monthly basis. Low tire pressure may cause you to lose control very quickly in a turn or hard braking. Check your brake pads once or twice a year. Use the proper motorcycle care products as some products can deteriorate your vital parts or ruin your finish.

THE SQUIGGLY

The Squiggly is called by many other names but it is a simple procedure that helps alert car drivers to your presence. When a car driver at an intersection is about to pull out, they often fail to note the approaching motorcycle. If you see a car ahead of your that could possibly pull out into your path a weaving motion within your lane will make you much more noticeable. It may look a little strange but it could save your life.

LANE CHOICE

The experienced rider is protected with proper clothing, gives ample space to the vehicle in front, usually stays in the right/inner lane and, when riding with others, will drive staggered so that they do not run into their buddy in front if that person has to brake in a hurry. Side by side driving is fine if you are very experienced and I don’t mean a couple of years. The quickest way to find out what it is like to be cut off by a car is to habitually travel in the left/passing lane. Inattentive and lazy drivers (usually middle-aged men) will not glance over their shoulder but simply pull into the passing lane, often without even signaling. We have all had this happen on numerous occasions. Extended traveling in the passing lane increases the danger.

LANE POSITION

Where you normally drive within a lane is a personal choice. I have friends who will always ride in the outer(right) third of the lane. You will see other travel right down the center. Most of these people, you will find, are less experienced riders. After 46 years of riding, I will always ride in the inner(left) third of the lane unless I am riding staggered behind another rider.

My reasons for this are:

1. Debris on the road is usually pushed to the middle and right side of the lanes because of the road’s cant or slope. You will usually find less debris and loose gravel in that inside(left) third.

2. If an idiot car driver pulls out to pass another car and needs to quickly pull back in to avoid a head-on, in that split second it is a good chance that he will force the driver in the right side of the lane off the road instead of the motorcyclist in the left.

3. You have a little bit more lane room for accident avoidance when you ride in the outer third.

So, get out there and enjoy the sun. Motorcycling is one of the greatest fresh air pastimes you can enjoy. Do it safely and keep alert at all times. Pax Vobiscum. See you on the highway.


Street Talk

Now this is a must read article for both the experienced and the beginner, good job!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks, Shawn. I wish it wasn't needed but I know that we all see the problems on a daily basis. Last week I had a SQUID following about 3 feet from my bumper bopping his head to his music. That wasn't enough as he hauled himself up, sitting on his gas tank with his feet flailing too. Some mothers do have them. Cheers

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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