Most motorcyclists believe they are a good rider but, in 2021, 20% of all road fatalities in the UK involved a motorcyclist (Source: Gov.uk). So why is this happening? The fatal five reasons for deaths on the road are:
- Not wearing a seatbelt (this is of course not applicable to motorcyclists, but still important to note)
- Riding whilst under the influence of drink or drugs
- Careless or dangerous riding
- Excess speed
- Using a mobile phone (even using a hands free device)
As a motorcyclist there are a number of things which need to be done and checked to try and prevent any accidents on the road, particularly fatal accidents.
Before setting out on a ride, always ensure your personal protective equipment (PPE) and your bike are ready for the ride. This includes making sure your helmet fits properly, that it is fastened securely and make sure the visor is kept clean.
When riding a motorcycle, specific biker clothing needs to be worn and it needs to fit properly; make sure the zips are fastened (even in hot weather) and wear season appropriate clothing. In terms of the motorcycle itself, the tyres, the fluids (leaks and levels) and any wear and tear on the machine itself all need to be checked over.
Safe bike control
When out riding, ensure safe bike control throughout, particularly when approaching hazards. The motorcycle needs to be positioned on the best part of the road (without compromising anyone’s safety). The motorcycle speed should be adjusted according to the road and the correct gear for the speed needs to be used, only applying acceleration when appropriate. It’s not safe to use the motorcycle gears as the brakes as this can upset the balance of the bike and either slow the vehicle too much (too low a gear) or not slow it down enough (too high a gear).
Hazards on the road
Before changing lane, position or speed, the motorcyclist needs to know what is happening in front of them, especially where they can’t see and also to the sides and to the rear. Motorcyclists always need to be actively looking for warnings. The route continually needs to be assessed, the view and hazards may be constantly changing. The speed needs to match the hazard; riders need to consider what they can’t see, not just what they can. When riding a motorcycle, it needs to be travelling at a speed that can stop safely on their own side of the road. Motorcycles should ride in the position that allows the rider to negotiate hazards safely and look for the best bit of the road surface where they would like to be.
When can it go wrong?
- Dangerous overtaking
Poor overtaking can lead to accidents such as if the rider hasn’t considered that a car may pull out and cross the path of the bike or the car is about to turn right. Good overtaking occurs when the motorcyclist moves their position so you can see ahead. If it is clear, riders should accelerate, consider a headlamp warning, and accelerate past the car, gradually regaining position in their lane.
- Insufficient observations
Poor observations or riding too fast can also lead to having insufficient time to react. By increasing the speed of the bike, motorcyclists are effectively reducing the amount of time and distance they have to react and respond to events they are travelling into.
In summary, motorcyclists need to do the following in order to stay safe on the road:
- Motorcycle Safety Checks – are they being checked enough?
- Consider the style of riding – are they staying safe and smooth?
- Observation techniques – does the rider actively try and see everything?
- Hazard perception – to react to it, the motorcyclist must be aware of it.
- The safest method of filtering – do they have to be in such a rush?
- Going for the overtake – can this be done safely?
- Rider training – a decision only the motorcyclist can make; use BikeSafe, RoSPA or IAM for motorcyclist training.
- If it goes wrong – get specialist legal advice with Hugh James