5 Key Tips for Riding Your Motorcycle Defensively

Defensive Motorcycle RidingAs a motorcycle enthusiast, you crave the freedom of the open road and the thrill of the ride. But with that freedom comes responsibility. Sharing the road with larger vehicles requires constant vigilance and a commitment to defensive driving, as well as other safety concerns.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we understand motorcycle accidents. We have achieved several multi-million dollar recoveries for our injured motorcyclist clients, including $3.75 million for an operator who suffered multiple facial fractures and $3.5 million on behalf of a rider who was killed when a waste disposal truck ran over him.

What is defensive riding?

Defensive riding, in the context of motorcycles, refers to a set of strategies and techniques aimed at reducing the risks and potential hazards encountered while riding on the road. It involves being highly aware of your surroundings, anticipating potential dangers, and taking proactive measures to avoid accidents.

By practicing defensive riding techniques, motorcyclists can significantly reduce their risk of accidents and increase their overall safety on the road. Below are five important tips for riding your motorcycle defensively.

Tip 1: Wear protective gear

Wearing protective gear is essential for every motorcyclist, regardless of experience or skill level. It is the only thing that protects you in the event of a crash, which can happen to anyone, even the most careful rider.

Here are the essential pieces of motorcycle protective gear:

  • Helmet: This is the most crucial piece of gear, and it is legally required in Massachusetts. Choose a helmet that is DOT-approved and fits snugly but comfortably. Full-face helmets offer the most protection, while half-helmets and open-face helmets expose your face and are not as safe.
  • Jacket: Look for a jacket made of abrasion-resistant material, such as leather or heavy-duty textile, with built-in padding or armor in key areas like the shoulders, elbows, back, and chest.
  • Pants: Similar to your jacket, your pants should be made of abrasion-resistant material and have armor in the knees and hips. Avoid wearing jeans, as they offer little to no protection in a crash.
  • Gloves: Choose gloves that are made of durable material and have padding or armor on the palms and fingers. They should also fit snugly to allow for a good grip on the handlebars.
  • Boots: Motorcycle boots should be sturdy and offer ankle protection. Avoid wearing sneakers or other casual shoes, as they can easily be torn or crushed in a crash.
  • Eye protection: Goggles or a full-face helmet visor will protect your eyes from wind, dust, debris, and insects.

Remember, the best way to protect yourself on a motorcycle is to wear the right gear every time you ride.

Tip 2: Check your motorcycle before going out

Before each trip, check the brakes, tires, fluids, and oil. If your motorcycle is not in good working order, it increases the risk of severe accidents. Remember to:

  • Ensure you have enough gas – running out at an intersection can make you a sitting duck.
  • Don’t ignore any warning signs, like low tire pressure or fluids.
  • Check that your lights are working.
  • Monitor the tread on your tires and keep them properly inflated.

Keeping your bike maintained can help reduce the risks of a severe Boston motorcycle accident.

Tip 3: Follow all traffic rules

Following the rules of the road, like speed limits and traffic signals, can also help reduce the risk of a motorcycle accident. Adhering to traffic rules, like signaling lane changes and turns, allows other drivers to anticipate your movements, reducing the chance of unexpected maneuvers that could lead to accidents. Just like all road users, motorcyclists have the right to use public roads safely. Following traffic rules upholds this right and ensures everyone shares the responsibility of maintaining order and safety on the road.

Tip 4: Ensure you’re visible

Because motorcycles are so much smaller than other vehicles, they can be hard to see for other motorists. In terms of gear, this means:

  • Bright and reflective clothing: Opt for brightly colored jackets and pants, preferably fluorescent yellow, orange, or green. These colors are more noticeable to drivers than darker tones. Look for gear with built-in reflective stripes or add reflective tape to existing clothing for night visibility.
  • High-visibility vest: Consider wearing a high-visibility vest over your regular riding gear, especially in low-light conditions or during bad weather.
  • Reflective helmet: Choose a helmet with a reflective surface or add reflective stickers to increase your head’s visibility.

In terms of operating your bike:

  • Headlight usage: During the day, use your headlights to make yourself more noticeable, especially in low-light conditions like tunnels or overcast skies.
  • Braking technique: When coming to a stop, apply the brakes smoothly but firmly, and consider a gentle tap on the brakes to grab attention, especially at intersections.
  • Lane positioning: Avoid riding in the blind spots of other vehicles. Try to maintain a safe distance from larger vehicles and position yourself where you are clearly visible in their mirrors. With commercial trucks especially, if you cannot see the driver in their mirror, they can’t see you either.
  • Be predictable: Signal your turns and lane changes well in advance and avoid erratic maneuvers that could startle other drivers.

Remember, making yourself as visible as possible is vital for motorcycle safety.

Tip 5: Practice situational awareness

Situational awareness, the ability to identify and understand what’s happening around you, is vital for motorcycle safety. Here are some ways to practice and improve it:

Before you ride:

  • Plan your route: Familiarize yourself with the roads you’ll be riding on, including potential hazards like traffic lights, intersections, sharp turns, and construction zones. This mental preparation allows you to anticipate potential issues and adapt your riding accordingly.
  • Check weather and road conditions: Be aware of weather forecasts and road conditions like rain, fog, or loose gravel. Adjust your riding style and speed based on these factors.
  • Inspect your motorcycle: Ensure your motorcycle is in good working order, including proper tire pressure, functioning lights, and brakes. Addressing any mechanical issues before riding minimizes distractions and unexpected malfunctions.

While riding:

  • Scan constantly: Use your vision effectively. Glance around frequently, checking not just what’s directly in front of you, but also your blind spots, peripheral vision, and behind you using your mirrors.
  • Focus on the big picture: Pay attention to the overall flow of traffic, including the behavior of other vehicles, pedestrians, and potential hazards like animals or debris on the road.
  • Anticipate potential problems: Don’t just react to situations; try to anticipate them. Look for cues that might indicate trouble, such as erratic driving, brake lights, or vehicle turning signals.
  • Minimize distractions: Avoid using your phone, listening to loud music, or engaging in conversations that take your attention away from the road.
  • Maintain a safe following distance: Leave ample space between you and the vehicle in front to allow for reaction time in case of sudden braking or unexpected maneuvers.
  • Be aware of your blind spots: Regularly check your mirrors and use shoulder checks to confirm your blind spots are clear before changing lanes or merging.

By following these tips, you can help to reduce your risk of being involved in a motorcycle accident. But if you are, talk to the Boston motorcycle accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck today. We can work to hold the party responsible for your accident accountable for your injuries and damages, helping you throughout the entire personal injury process. Let us seek compensation on your behalf after you’re injured in a motorcycle accident – we are here to help. Call or contact us today for a free consultation. We serve all of Massachusetts out of our Boston offices.