Accidents are a very real threat to motorcyclists. We have come up with some tips to help Ontario riders avoid common motorcycle accidents.
The good news is that motorcycles are equipped with powerful brakes, obstruction-free vision, excellent handling and tires with great grip – all of which assist you in avoiding an accident. Here are some tips on how to use these tools to avoid common motorcycle accident scenarios.
SCENARIO: You Hit Gravel in a Blind Corner
It’s possible to wipe out on sand, gravel and leaves without warning, especially when rounding a corner.
How to Avoid It: Ride at a pace where your reaction time and your ability to take action fit within your range of vision. Enter a corner wide and at an easy pace to increase your vision.
SCENARIO: You Enter a Corner Too Fast
In this situation, the corner may unexpectedly tighten and you may feel as though you won’t make it around.
How to Avoid It: Only ride as fast as you can see and use visual clues like telephone poles and signs to judge a road’s direction. If you do find yourself going too fast in a corner, the best approach is to trust the bike and ride it out. Take as much lean out of the bike as possible, look where you want to go and be as smooth as possible on the controls. Do not slam on the brakes or do anything else that will cause a loss of traction.
SCENARIO: A Car Changes Into Your Lane
A car in another lane can suddenly veer into the space you are occupying.
How to Avoid It: Always be aware of where blind spots are and spend as little time in them as possible. If you can see a driver’s eyes in their mirrors, then they have the ability to see you (but this doesn’t always mean they are looking). Also, look for signs of a car changing lanes such as turn signal and wheels turning.
SCENARIO: A Car Turns Left in Front of You
This is the most common accident. A car fails to see you or judges your speed incorrectly, turning in front of you at an intersection.
How to Avoid It: You have to see it coming. Look for signs that could indicate someone may turn in front of you such as a car is at an intersection waiting to turn or perhaps there’s a gap in traffic near an intersection, driveway or parking lot. In these situations, slow down, cover your brakes and be ready to take evasive action. Your best chance of survival comes from losing as much speed as possible before a collision. You must take something as simple as a car turning left as a major and immediate threat to your life.
SCENARIO: A Car Hits You From Behind
The most common car accident is a “fender bender” however; this type of accident can kill a motorcyclist.
How to Avoid It: Stop to the side rather than the center of a lane, rapidly flash your brake light by tapping a brake lever, keep the bike in gear and your right hand on the throttle. Pay attention to what’s coming up behind you and be prepared to ride away should it appear someone is about to hit you. You should be particularly aware in situations where there’s bad visibility, at times when drunk driving is prevalent and when stops are unexpected.
SCENARIO: You Locked the Front Brake
In this scenario, you slam on the brakes and the next thing you know, you’re laying on the ground watching your bike cartwheel down the street.
How to Avoid It: Learn to use your front brake. It might seem easy to do but the front brake is the most powerful component on your bike and difficult to master; it can alter your speed much more quickly than your engine. If you are just learning to ride or have never mastered this skill, find an empty parking lot and start practicing.
SCENARIO: A Car Door Opens
This happens when you drive between the space of a line of parked cars and a stationary line of active traffic.
How to Avoid It: Never ride between an active traffic lane and parked cars and not just because of opening doors, but because pedestrians may also step out.
SCENARIO: It’s Slippery
Roads are especially slippery during winter months and on rainy days.
How to Avoid It: Make sure the tires on your motorcycle are not worn out. Motorcycles can do very well in wet and snowy conditions but you should still slow down and be as smooth on the road as possible. Oil and diesel can also be slippery so look for patches of a rainbow and avoid the area.
SCENARIO: Your Riding Friends Are Not Responsible Drivers
You may be out for a ride when one of your friends stops suddenly and another friend is daydreaming and they collide.
How to Avoid It: Make sure everyone is aware of proper group riding etiquette and knows how to ride in a staggered formation. Doing this increases vision and moves bikes out of line with each other – this means that a temporary lapse in judgment won’t result in a collision. Pick smart and responsible riding friends.
SCENARIO: Impaired Driving
Alcohol is a factor in 50 percent of all bike accidents.
How to Avoid It: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!