With the summer months approaching, long distance summer rides season is well and truly here and, as ever, safety is of paramount importance. Recent stats show that motorcyclists account for 19% of deaths on Britain’s roads despite making up just 1% of road traffic.
In 2018, 5,609 motorcyclists also known as bikers were killed or seriously injured on the roads, with around 30 bikers killed or injured in accidents at junctions every day on average.
A more recent study shows that motorcyclists are 75 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in fatal crashes than car drivers based on a comparison per billion miles travelled.
But while motorists must clearly play their part in being aware of motorcyclists on the road, there are a number of precautions and measures people on two wheels can take to ensure their summer out on the open road doesn’t end in tragedy:
Take a refresher course
For casual or occasional motorcyclists, a short safety training course at the start of the season can help bring rusty skills up to speed and remind you of the essentials of staying out of harm’s way on the roads. Courses are available for beginners, experienced riders and older motorcyclists at places across the UK.
Pay attention to the weather
If you’re riding in the rain, try to control the bike smoothly and be gentle with your brakes and throttle. Aim to finish turning before you accelerate and be prepared for longer braking distances and use engine braking on corners to lower the chance of skidding. Also be aware of the dangers of manhole covers, slippery concrete surfaces and puddles.
Act as if you’re invisible
Never assume that the other motorists around can see you – no matter how safely and predictably you’ve been riding. Always take what THINK! calls a ‘lifesaving’ glance over the shoulder before carrying out your manoeuvres.
Dress for the occasion
Be sure to wear bright coloured or fluorescent gear during the day and reflective items at night. Even on the rare sunny summer’s day that the UK might enjoy this year, it’s also important not to be tempted to ditch the protective gloves, jacket, boots and trousers in a bid to stay cool. Today there are many cooler alternatives to standard protective biking gears which enable you to enjoy the sun without risking your safety should you be involved in a road accident.
Use your head
Refer to the SHARP rating system to check whether your helmet is giving you adequate protection. If not, it’s time you splashed out on a new one.
Check your tyres
If you’re wheeling your bike out of the garage for the first time since the winter months, double check you don’t still have special winter tyres or pressures set on the bike – if so, make relevant changes.
Don’t try to keep up with friends and ride their ride, or make the same calls they do which may put themselves in danger. Trust your own judgement.
Beware the bumpy road ahead
Winter may be a distant memory but the fallout from what was one of the worst cold snaps in recent years lives on. Pot holes can present a major danger to riders – especially if your road handling skills are a little rusty. Pay attention to the road ahead to give yourself plenty of time to respond. Also watch out for debris and uneven places in the roads.
Watch your speed
The sun’s shining, the road ahead is clear of traffic and the temptation is to accelerate towards the horizon. But speeding is a major factor in accidents. Not only does it displace the alignment of the motorcycle, causing the front end to become unsteady, it also shortens your response time should something unexpectedly cross your path. Speeding limits are in place for a reason. Stick to them or risk your own safety.
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Summer means to most of bikers that the number of hours on the road increases exponentially. Sticking to these safety tips doesn’t guarantee that you will avoid having a bike accident this summer, so remember if the worst should happen it’s not just your insurers who can help you to get back on the road. A claims management company could provide a welcome alternative to your insurer, and could provide an all in one service to get you back on the road with little or no cost to you.