Motorcycle and scooter riders are vulnerable on the road – they aren’t protected by the same kinds of safety features as drivers of vehicles. That’s why it’s so important to be cautious on the road, whether you’re operating a motorcycle or scooter or driving near one.
Use your head
Wear a helmet that’s been approved by Snell, DOT or ECE 22, and top it off with goggles or a clear face shield designed for your helmet.
Gear up, from head to toe
Road rash isn’t the only thing you’ll need to be protected from. The proper gear will also protect you from wind chill, bugs and debris, too. Wear warm, ventilated clothing that fits snugly, but not tight, with no hanging flaps or laces. Leather is the best but denim or heavy (ballistic) nylon are acceptable alternatives. Leather boots are best, too, and they must cover at least your ankle.
Light it up
Using your head and tail lights at all times helps to ensure that drivers of other vehicles can see you. Of course, lights are necessary at night (and night driving should be avoided whenever possible, as it’s so much more dangerous), but they should be used all day, too.
Be an attention seeker
Because motorcycles and scooters can be harder for drivers to see, make your presence known. In addition to using your lights, wear bright colours whenever possible and don’t be afraid to use your horn when it’s needed.
Don’t drive drunk
Drunk driving is one of the main causes of single-rider accidents. The message is simple – just don’t drink and drive.
Steer clear of hazards
A hazard that a larger vehicle could easily drive over could wipe out a motorcycle or scooter. Hazards can include anything from potholes, sand, wet leaves or pebbles. If you can’t avoid them safely (never swerve quickly to dodge them), slow down to minimize the impact and reduce your chances of losing control.
It’s not me, it’s you
While there are certainly things that motorcycle and scooter drivers can do to keep themselves safe, it’s also important to be aware of what other drivers are doing. Most accidents between a motorcycle or scooter and a vehicle happen at intersections, often because a left-turning driver of the vehicle doesn’t see the motorcycle or scooter.
Don’t send mixed signals
People aren’t psychic; if you want someone to know your intentions, you need to make them known. Using your turn signals lets other drivers know your plans and helps to keep you safe.
The trouble with tailgating
Tailgating – throwing a parking lot party before an event – can be fun. But tailgating – following someone too closely in traffic – isn’t. If you’re operating the motorcycle or scooter, be aware of how far you are behind other vehicles and how closely they’re following you.
Take a rain check
Bad weather is not your friend. Slippery conditions reduce your tire’s grip, and rain cuts down your visibility. The most dangerous time to ride is right after the rain starts, when oil residue rises. Wind is dangerous, too, as it can push your motorcycle or scooter around on the road.
If you’re new to motorcycle or scooter riding, take a motorcycle safety course before hitting the road.
(And even if you’re an experienced rider, it never hurts to brush up on your safety skills.)
Safety Services Manitoba has you covered – learn more about our motorcycle training courses