For Car Drivers: 10 Things You Need to Know About Motorcycles

MSFThere is only so much you can do as a motorcyclist to stay safe on the road. And no matter how safe you are, no matter how much protective gear you wear, you’re still riding the smallest vehicle on the road without a seat belt, without airbags, and without walls protecting you from the pavement. Not to mention the thousand pound machines operated by distracted drivers that surround you on every side.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation encourages all riders to exercise caution on the road, but they also realize that car drivers need to do a little more to keep riders safe. Here are 10 things that the MSF says car drivers need to know about motorcycles.

  1. Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve a four wheel vehicle, and most of the time, it’s the car that is at fault.
  2. Since motorcycles are a lot smaller than cars, they can easily hide in a blind spot. Car drivers need to take an extra second to check mirrors and blind spots.
  3. Since motorcycles are small, it can be hard to judge their distance and speed. Car drivers should remember that a motorcycle is usually closer than it appears.
  4. Motorcycles often slow down by rolling off the throttle, and not necessarily by braking. Car drivers should give motorcycles a little bit more space, and realize that motorcycles may be slowing down without a visual warning.
  5. A motorcycle changing position within a lane is usually doing so for a reason, either to avoid road debris, to get ready to pass a vehicle, or to minimize wind. A motorcycle moving within a lane does not mean that they are being reckless.
  6. On most motorcycles, the turn signals will not turn off automatically. Some riders, usually beginners, may continue to ride after a turn with their signals on.
  7. A motorcycle may be extremely maneuverable, but don’t expect a rider to be able to dodge out of the way.
  8. Motorcycles have the same braking power as cars, but have a harder time braking on wet pavement.
  9. When a motorcycle is in motion, cars should try to see more than the motorcycle. Try to put a face to the object.
  10. Causing a crash with a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian, is something that is very hard for a car driver to forget.

The MSF makes a few good points, and the road would be a safer place if all car drivers knew the above items. But as a rider, you can’t expect them to know any of the above. In fact, as a rider, you should assume that car drivers are bad drivers.

But as long as we’re making a wish list for what we hope car drivers knew about motorcycles, here are a few more.

  1. You’re phone call can wait. No one’s that important.
  2. Just because you can’t hear the wind inside your car, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t moving. Driving a three ton machine at 70 MPH is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly.

Anything else you think car drivers should know?

You can get more safety tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation here.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Ladies, Challenge Your Riding!

MSF Rider Safety CourseFor the seasonal, pleasure rider, you may experience a plateau in your skills at some point in your riding career. For some riders, this may be OK, they are comfortable with the people they ride with and the rides they go on, but if you’re feeling stagnant or bored with your moto-experience, shake it up a little. Pushing outside your comfort zone can help revive your passion for riding, give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you proud of your riding skills.

Want to polish those street riding skills? Try a MSF StreetRider or AdvancedRider course. I know we think we’re done with the MSF course the minute we get our motorcycle endorsements on our licenses, but the organization has more to offer even experienced riders.

I love the MSF course because it gives you a different perspective; making safe decisions on the road is all about comprehending the situation, knowing your options and correct execution. Perhaps this spring if you’re feeling sluggish about dusting off the old motorbike, enroll in an Advanced MSF course to brush up on your skills and meet some new riding friends in the process!

If you want to push beyond street skills, consider a track day. Again, a great way to meet new riders, but you also may fall in love with a new facet of motorcycle riding. If you just want to dip your toes in, some track day programs offer bikes, suits, boots and a teacher to follow! Contact your local track and see what their schedule looks like; also ask about female-only track days, even if they don’t offer them at the moment, it’s good to show interest.

Finally, if you want to use your motorcycle to explore the world, plan a long-distance ride with your friends or signup for a moto-vacation. Integrating motorcycles into your vacation will remind you what you loved about bikes in the first place and let you experience new places – in new ways!

Exploring on two wheels brings you closer to the landscapes you roll through, give you quiet reflection time alone in your helmet to consider the natural beauty and plenty of experiences to share with the people you’re riding with. Female-specific riding vacations are offered all over the world, from the Pacific Northwest to Switzerland to New Zealand. So pick a place you haven’t been, pack a helmet and throw caution to the wind!

As riding weather fast approaches, consider a “rider make-over” this year. Break out of your shell, congrats on getting a bike and learning to ride, now keep going!

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com