Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience - the wind on your face, the pavement blurring beneath you and the unmistakable growl of the engine. When it comes to speed and agility, motorcycles have no equal, and that's exactly why it's important for all drivers to adjust their behaviour to help keep everyone on the road safe.
The consequences of failing to recognize the unique risks of motorcycles can be tragic. On average, 4 riders are killed and 26 are seriously injured each year in Saskatchewan.
The most common contributing factor in motorcycle collisions is driver inattention. Stay safe by constantly scanning your mirrors and the road ahead of you for hazards. Evaluate the nature of the risk - turning vehicles, pedestrians and railroad tracks are common - and safely execute the proper manoeuvre to avoid danger.
Riders should also take steps to ensure they are seen at all times. Simply put, the better drivers can see you, the less likely they are to run into you. Choose brightly coloured gear over dark clothing and attach reflective strips to your helmet and boots. Also check the reflectors and lights on your bike to be sure they are working properly.
Even the most experienced motorcyclist is at risk of a collision, which is why all riders must wear properly fitted and fastened helmets. The law is designed to keep cyclists safe, since helmets can reduce the risk of a brain injury by 85%.
Motorcyclists are also encouraged to attend a certified training course to hone their driving skills. Programs are designed for everyone from unlicensed novices to experienced riders who want to improve their technique or get rid of some bad habits.
While it is crucial for riders to improve their riding skills and knowledge, it is also important for other drivers to respect a motorcyclist's right to be on the road.
- Despite their small size, motorcycles are considered vehicles just like cars and trucks, meaning they require a full lane width.
- Skilled motorcyclists are constantly changing positions within a lane to increase their visibility and to avoid objects on the road. For this reason, it's important that drivers never move into the same lane as a motorcycle. It's not only illegal but also extremely dangerous.
- Keep a safe (minimum 3-second) following distance behind motorcycles, just as you would any other vehicle. Following a bike too closely might distract the rider from the road, which can lead to a crash. You also risk rear-ending a rider, especially when road conditions aren't ideal.
Certain situations are particularly risky when motorcycles share the road with other vehicles.
- Drivers should look twice when making left-hand turns across traffic since there might be a bike hidden behind oncoming vehicles.
- Be especially cautious at busy intersections where it may be difficult to immediately see a motorcyclist. A 2nd glance can mean the difference between a safe ride home and a tragedy.