Top Tips for Collision Avoidance
If speaking the ugly truth, every time you get on your bike, you’re at risk of a collision. Fortunately as a rider, you are in control of more than just your motorcycle. There are many actions you can take before and during a potential collision to prevent a crash or at least reduce the severity.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce your odds of being involved in a collision is educate yourself. Take a motorcycle safety course and learn life-saving riding skills. Courses will teach you how to recognize potential hazards and how to avoid crashes. Riders of every skill level can benefit from taking a class.
LEARN THE LAWS
Educate yourself on South Dakota riding laws to ensure you have the proper equipment and safety features on your bike before riding. Be familiar with speed limits and know that they are set for a reason. Speed is a huge factor in collisions; the faster you’re going, the longer it takes you to slow down. Lastly, never drink and ride. Alcohol affects more than just your judgment. It impairs your riding and makes you more likely to be involved in a crash. Some rules aren’t meant to be broken.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
When a rider is in the act of avoiding a collision, there are several factors that will affect the outcome: rider skill, rider training, motorcycle performance, environmental conditions and the nature of the obstacle the rider is trying to avoid. While some of these factors cannot be controlled, rider skill and training can through proper education and practice.
Once you’ve completed motorcycle safety training courses, practice what you’ve learned at low speed in an open environment. The more comfortable you are with collision avoidance maneuvers, such as emergency braking or swerving, the more level-headed you’ll be in the case of an actual collision.
Learn how to use your front brake in an emergency situation. The front brake is the most powerful and difficult to master. It can alter your speed much more quickly than your engine. When you emergency brake, use both your front and rear brakes. Brake as hard as you can without locking up either wheel, even when a crash is inevitable. Shedding even a small fraction of your speed can mean the difference between going home with bruises and going home at all.
RIDE TO BE SEEN
There are many ways you can be proactive when it comes to collision avoidance on your motorcycle. Start by making yourself seen. Wear safety gear with bright colors and reflective elements. At night it’s especially hard for motorists to see motorcycles. Make sure your bike has reflective features on it as well.
Use your headlight in both daytime and nighttime. Your bike only has one, so make sure it’s clean and works well. When you are stopped at an intersection, flash your brake lights to ensure the vehicle pulling up behind you is aware that you’re there. Be conscious of where vehicles’ blind spots lie and avoid them. Ride in the section of the lane that makes you most visible to motorists, and always stay away from the centerline.
Before each ride, perform a routine check to make sure everything is working correctly. Inspect the tires for wear and tear and make sure they’re set at the right pressure. Check the chain, belt, shaft and brakes for damage and make sure your lights, horn and turn signals are working. Before you start moving, adjust your mirrors so you can see as much possible around you. In the case of a collision, you’ll be thankful your motorcycle is performing properly.
DEFENSE IS YOUR BEST OFFENSE
As a rider, you’ll always be playing defense on the road.
Drivers looking for cars often times merely see the absence of a car and not the presence of a motorcycle. Always be alert and ready to make sudden lane changes or swerves if necessary. Look ahead when you ride and anticipate the actions of motorists around you. The sooner you see the potential hazard, the more time you’ll have to react.
It’s smart to avoid riding in bad weather for a number of reasons. Limited visibility is an important factor, and roads can become slippery, especially when oil and diesel lift to the top of the pavement. Plan for longer following distances and earlier braking. After the weather clears, watch for patches of sand, potholes and other potential hazards left behind.
USE CAUTION AT INTERSECTIONS
What’s the most common type of crash between a motorcycle and a car? When a car fails to see a rider and makes a left turn in front of them at an intersection. To avoid this, keep an eye on approaching car’s blinkers and give them plenty of room to turn. If they are careless and don’t use a blinker, be prepared to speed up or swerve to avoid a collision.
A majority of motorcycle collisions occur at intersections. Be prepared to brake at a moment’s notice when approaching a stop. Also, avoid getting rear-ended. Many cars overlook a motorcycle parked at a light. Create a buffer between you and oncoming traffic if possible and flash your brake lights as cars approach you from behind. Keep your bike in first gear and hand over the throttle ready to move if cars behind you fail to stop.
Although the gap between an active traffic lane and parked cars looks convenient, never ride in it. Someone might swing their door open and unknowingly cause a collision. Or worse, someone might step out of their car and collide with you themselves. Cars might also pull out suddenly without giving a second look over their shoulder. There’s too much opportunity for collision to risk it.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
There is a myth that if you’re ever in a situation that may result in a collision, you should react by laying your bike down. We are here to debunk that theory. Upright, a motorcycle rests on tires. On its side, a motorcycle rests on smooth chrome and offers far inferior traction. A motorcycle kept upright has the best chance of coming to a safe stop, or at least drastically lowering its speed, in the shortest distance.
Instead of sending your beloved bike shredding down asphalt, rely on braking techniques you’ve practiced to slow your speed. Your head can be put to much better use (like thinking quickly and swerving around a collision) than sliding down the freeway and being used as a stopper.