The Rider Workshop | Motorcycle Accidents & How To Prevent Them
A motorcycle is a powerful vehicle, without all of the added protection of a cage, seatbelt or airbags. Everything is pulled back to entail maximum movement and freedom. However, your bike should still provide you with all of the tools to avoid an accident. This isn’t always the case, and sometimes things are out of our control when riding, or when others around us are being negligent.
These techniques will help you familiarize yourself with common accidents, and how you can try to avoid them. The best advice is to always have an exit strategy, wear the gear, have the insurance and be aware of your surroundings.
You need to assess the situation when crossing intersections where oncoming traffic can turn left. Is the driver clearly able to see you, without obstruction? Is that person actually looking? Are they looking at you? What is their speed? Where are their wheels pointing?
Many drivers may be distracted, or simply unaware. A driver looking for cars perceives an absence of cars, not the presence of a motorcycle.
At this point, you need to assume the responsibility of your surroundings. This also means you need to have an escape in place if someone turning left does not see you, as well as any traffic that may be behind or to the side of you.
A Vehicle Changes Lanes Into You:
Remember that all vehicles have a blind spot. Make it your mission to stay out of a blind spot where ever possible. Again, drivers are programmed to see the lack of other cars, not the presence of a motorcycle.
A good rule of thumb is that if you can see a driver’s eyes in their mirrors, then they have the ability to see you too. Be more aware when a lane change seems apparent. Highway traffic, one lane is progressing slower than another, or where a turn off is coming up. Look for signs of a vehicle changing lanes. Many vehicles on the roads seem to have “broken” signal lights. Watch out for other signals of a lane change like the driver’s head moving, lane weaving, or their driving habits up until this point.
A Vehicle Hits You From Behind:
Stop sign, crosswalk, and intersection. All of these usually lead to a stoppage in traffic. When a driver behind you is not paying attention, this could cause a “fender bender” or rear-end accident. In a car, this will lead to damage, on a motorcycle, this could lead to serious injury or even death.
Use the vehicles around you as protection when stopped. If a vehicle behind you is quickly approaching flash your brake lights so they can see you, especially in unfavourable weather conditions. Be prepared to move out of the way or stay positioned to the outer side of the lane, or between a set of cars.
Be particularly aware in situations where there’s bad visibility, and when stops are unexpected, such as at pedestrian crosswalks or left-hand turns.
Gravel Or Road Debris:
Many road conditions can be unfavorable. You’re taking in the scenery, and riding the curves when all of a sudden you hit a patch of gravel, or nature’s debris on the road. The best advice is to avoid putting yourself in that situation in the first place.
Make sure to ride at a pace that allows your reaction time to be on par with your speed. You’ll be able to access your surroundings and avoid road mishaps by having them within your range of sight. Take your corners wide, at an easy pace to increase your vision. You can then pick up your speed on the way out, once you see what is in front of you.
Trail braking is a slightly more advanced skill that you’ll need to learn and practice on a track before applying on the road. You can learn more about it here.
Rain, unexpected snow, and sleet are all-weather forms that can come up out of nowhere in Alberta. This may leave you out and about on your bike in less than favorable conditions.
Tires are extremely important! Bikes can run surprisingly well in these conditions as long as your tires are in good working order. Traction is key. Slow down and maintain smooth movements.
In wet conditions, you also need to look out for imperfections in the road. Manhole covers can become slippery, oil or gas on the road is reactivated, and potholes become filled with water and are almost unseen. We have touched on this before in previous months, but the first hour of rainfall us usually the worst. It brings up all of the absorbed oils from the road, making it even very slippery. If you can, pull over for a bite to eat and wait it out.
Also, beware of the limited visibility rain creates for other drivers and their general ineptitude; car drivers don’t seem to understand that slippery conditions necessitate longer following distances and earlier braking. Same goes for riders too, we know you want to get out of the rain. But the 5 extra minutes may save a life.
Entering A Corner Too Fast:
This can happen to the best or worst of riders. Taking a corner too fast by accident, or intentionally trying to ride too fast can end in the same scenario. Use road signs as your guide, pay attention, they will allude to what is coming up next.
I’ve looked around and the most common advice is to let the bike do the work. If you find yourself going too fast into a corner, trust your bike. It inherently wants to be upright and will do its best to get back there. Take as much lean out of the bike as possible, look ahead where you want to go and try not to panic. Sudden braking, overcorrecting, or pulling the throttle can throw off the bike and take you down. If you end up closer to the ground or drag a knee/peg hold your position and look for your exit ahead. This can be another situation where the link above for trail breaking can help.
Check out our other Rider Workshop post: Riding In Groups for more very important information about riding.
Ride safe out their friends. Take it easy, enjoy the ride, but don’t put yourself in a situation that you may not come out of. Hit and runs and driver negligence leave so many riders fallen. We want to make sure that everyone gets home, so be aware, and ride safer. More information can be found here: Ride Apart and our amazing partners AMSS.