Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable people on the road. They travel at the same speed as cars but don’t have large bodies of steel and glass to protect drivers and passengers. Thus, owners have a unique set of safety needs, and as such, it’s important to be aware of the specific hazards faced when riding a bike.
The most common motorcycle accidents include:
- Head-on collisions
- Collisions with turning vehicles
- Lane splitting
- Collisions with fixed objects
Learning how to recognize and reduce risks is the key to avoiding these common motorcycle accidents, which have very high injury and fatality rates.
Avoiding Head-On Collisions
Statistics show that collisions between motorcycles and cars account for more than half of all motorcyclist fatalities. In almost 80 percent of these cases, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front in a head-on collision. Road safety experts refer to the “four Rs” when instructing motorcyclists on how to avoid head-on collisions:
- Read the road. Always keep your eyes active by scanning the road and anticipating oncoming traffic.
- Right-hand orientation. Motorcyclists are trained to ride as close to the centre of the lane as possible for optimal visibility, and you put yourself at risk if you’re too far to the left. Staying a little closer to the right gives you more leeway to avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle.
- Reduce your speed. Ride within the speed limit at all times to help you keep control of your motorcycle and give you some additional time to react. Those extra seconds can make all the difference.
- Ride off the road. If you’re looking to avoid an oncoming car, don’t be afraid to go off the road, onto the shoulder or the grass.
Taking a motorcycle safety course can also help you develop superior defensive riding skills, and they may also help you qualify for lower rates on motorcycle insurance.
Steering Clear of Other Common Motorcycle Accidents
For motorcyclists, one of the greatest dangers comes from oncoming cars turning left across the path of an oncoming motorcycle. Visibility is one of the key issues here, as it’s more difficult to see an oncoming motorcycle than it is to spot a car.
Slowing down and being prepared to break if you anticipate a car is going to turn left is the best way to protect yourself. Be extra cautious if there’s a gap in traffic as you approach the intersection, as the driver may edge further into your lane or even attempt to complete a turn. Making eye contact with turning drivers is also an excellent way to make sure they’ve seen you.
“Lane splitting” is a term used to describe a situation in which a motorcyclist moves in the space between stopped or slow-moving traffic. While it’s legal in many places, lane splitting is also dangerous. Reduce your risk by keeping your speed as low as possible and watching for gaps in the rows of cars. Gaps often indicate that a driver is attempting to move from one lane to another, and they may not notice you approaching from behind.
Staying within the speed limit, especially on wet pavement, and avoiding sharp cornering and hard braking are the keys to avoiding collisions with fixed objects. Also, it goes without saying that you should never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Safe Riding in Spring
Spring poses an extra set of hazards to Alberta motorcyclists, as the sandy residue of the salt used to keep roads free of snow and ice during the winter can cause loss of traction.
Safe riding in spring requires careful attention to potholes, salt and gravel. You can avoid potholes by increasing your following distance, which gives you more time to spot them and react accordingly. If you encounter a sandy patch of road, maintain your speed, avoid making sudden adjustments, and loosen your posture. Try not to brake on sandy surfaces, as this can cause you to lose control.
Before hitting the road with passengers, take a moment to review your coverage to see if other people are covered while they’re on your bike.
Finally, if you’re looking for great local rides, check out this guide to Alberta’s best motorcycle routes.
Motorcycle Insurance Calgary: Talk to Your Broker at Lane’s
For more information on motorcycle insurance, review this free guide to recreational vehicle coverage for Alberta residents.