motorcycle_safety

Avoid the 5 most common motorcycle accidents

The following information shows the 5 most common motorcycle crashes and advice on how you can avoid them. Motorcycling is a skill for life and any skill needs to be practiced, honed and developed. If you haven’t been on the bike for a while ease yourself back in to riding gently and think about refresher training. When you’ve had a good safe ride, think back to the skills and knowledge that made it good. Where it hasn’t been so good or you’ve had a near miss, have other issues like group pressure, lack of practice, tiredness, distraction, anger, or stress got in the way?

Learn the lessons of experience to improve your skills and your enjoyment of motorcycling. An assessment ride with a motorcycle school will highlight problem areas.

Collisions at junctions

These can be down to a driver failing to give way or stop and fall into the category of “sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. Many of them happen at T-junctions and roundabouts but they can happen at other junctions.

Some road users are desperate to take any opportunity to join the flow of traffic. They may not spot your bike in the traffic even though you think you are easy to see. There is research showing that drivers have difficulty judging the speed of a bike and underestimate the bike’s time of arrival.

Always remember that if there is a collision between a car and your bike, you and the bike will come off worst whoever is at fault. Consider how you would deal with the vehicle unexpectedly pulling out in front of you.

Shunts

These are usually down to riding too close to the vehicle in front, or the vehicle behind you being too close. To protect yourself:

  • leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front (2 seconds in dry conditions and 4 seconds in the wet, assuming good breaks and tyres)
  • be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear
  • if the vehicle behind is too close give yourself more room in front.
Road conditions

Part of the challenge of using a motorbike is adjusting our riding to deal with different road conditions. There are all sorts of conditions we need to have the skills to deal with but some examples that can lead to loss of control of the bike are:

  • poor weather conditions
  • diesel spills
  • mud
  • manhole covers
  • painted road markings

Look out for these and for road signs warning you of hazards ahead. Even new road surfaces can be slippery in certain conditions. There maybe other clues to the presence of some hazards. For example, where there are lorries there maybe diesel spills, where there are building sites, or farm and field entrances there may be mud.

Make sure your tyres are in good condition and at the correct pressure; your life is dependent on two small patches of rubber. Allow yourself the time and space to see what is ahead of you and take avoiding action. The safest response will depend on the circumstances around the hazard such as road conditions, weather, the limitations of your bike, and your skill as a rider.

Collisions while overtaking

There are two issues here. Overtaking stationary or slow moving traffic and overtaking other traffic at speed.

Overtaking not only requires the skill to judge speed and distance, but a good knowledge of your bike’s acceleration. With a bike you are not used to riding, take time to learn how it reacts to acceleration and braking in different gears, before doing any overtaking.

Overtaking slow moving or stationary traffic has hazards of its own, do it with care. Pedestrians are likely to appear that were hidden by high sided vehicles, traffic may turn in front of you near junctions without warning, most of our roads are narrow and you may not be able to keep to your side of the road or get back into the line of traffic you are overtaking.

The closely packed vehicles reduce your visibility, maneuverability and reaction time to a minimum. A lot of drivers will not know that you are there and may move across in front of you or open a door.

Don’t overtake when approaching:

  • bends
  • junctions
  • lay-bys
  • pedestrian crossings
  • hills or dips in the road
  • where there are double white lines or other signs prohibiting overtaking

There could be a high speed vehicle coming the other way, hidden from view. To overtake safely you need a view of everything going on around you. You have no idea how a driver or rider will react when they see you overtaking them. You can’t assume they will slow down to let you in. They may do the opposite.

If you are riding with others, plan everything for yourself. Snap overtaking decisions are dangerous.

Parish roads and green lanes

Green lanes and Parish roads are different to those in town so we need to apply our skills, knowledge and ability in a different way. Although many have a 40mph limit, this would be a dangerous speed on most of them. You have to consider many of our lanes will be used by children, families and tourists who are walking or on bikes.

Some bends on country roads are smooth and even, opening up once you are into them. Others tighten up dramatically. If you have gone into a bend at too high a speed you will find yourself with a major problem. If the road gives you clues on how it bends then use them.

You may see:

  • the line of trees
  • the path of telegraph poles
  • hedges at the side of the road copying the path of the road

Take care and remember to have something in reserve in case things are not as they appear. If in any doubt, lose more speed before the bend so you have greater room for manoeuvring

Download a guide to accident prevention on motorcycles >>