Motorcycle Operator Manual – Part VII

Relative risk of an accident based on blood al...

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Motorcycle Operator Manual – Part VII

In order to safely operate a motorcycle in traffic, the rider must gain certain knowledge and skills. The information on these pages will, hopefully, help to keep novice motorcycle riders safe and reduce the risk of them being involved in accidents.

Riding Your Motorcycle – Are You Fit For the Task?

Riding a Motorcycle is great fun, but, as you’ve probably realised by now, it’s also extremely dangerous and shouldn’t be attempted unless you can give it your complete attention. Whilst you are riding your motorcycle you need to be completely aware of what’s going on around you, make judgements, execute wise decisions quickly and using all of the skill you have acquired. Your ability to do these things successfully and safely depends entirely on how alert you are, and whether you are thinking clearly – to put it bluntly, just one drink of alcohol can seriously impair your performance.

Driving and Alcohol

One of the major contributors to motorcycle crashes, no, not just crashes actually, but fatal motorcycle crashes, is alcohol. There is evidence to suggest that nearly 40% of riders who were killed in motorcycle crashes had previously been drinking.  Even if there was only evidence of a few drinks in their system, it was enough to impair their judgement and riding skills.

Driving and Drugs

Historically it’s been a little more difficult to determine levels of drug related motorcycle crashes, they’ve often been lumped up together, but suffice to say that whether you are under the influence of alchohol, or under the influence of drugs – you are not only driving illegally but also putting your life, and the lives of others in real danger.

Fit to Drive

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a big problem among all drivers, cars and motorcycles, but motorcyclists are much more likely to be either killed, or at least severely injured in a crash.  Every year around 2000 motorcyclists lose their lives, and another 50,000 are seriously injured in these types of crashes – that’s far too many, don’t you think?

You might think, or have friends who do, that you can “hold your liquor”, and perform just as well if you’ve had a few drinks, or that drugs don’t affect your abilities, but believe me – everybody is affected. Your ability to make sound judgement and go through the vital decision making processes are affected a long time before you’ve even reached the legal driving limit.  Some prescription or over the counter drugs can also have the same effect.

There are certain things which affect the amount of alcohol in your blood, the Blood Alcohol Concentration level. These are:

  • How much alcohol you drink
  • How quickly you drink it
  • Your body weight

The safest way really is not to drink anything at all if you are going to ride your motorcycle. The law takes a very dim view of drivers who do drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and law enforcement agencies all over the country have really stepped up their efforts to stamp out the senseless deaths caused by mixing drinking with driving. If you do get caught driving your motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (if you’re lucky enough not have crashed and injured or killed yourself) you can expect:

  • A suspension of your drivers license – mandatory, no questions asked, and that goes for whether you are convicted, arrested or refuse to take a breath test
  • A hefty fine – along with losing your license for a period of time, you’ll also have to pay a fine
  • Community service – is also a possibility. How do you fancy spending your time litter picking on the highway (where you used to ride your motorcycle), washing cars or something similar
  • Costs – apart from the fine you’ll also have to find the money to pay lawyer’s fees (they don’t come cheap!), loss of earnings whilst you’re maybe attending an alcohol-education program etc.
  • Shame – you will be known as a drunk driver – shame on you.

The solution really is very simple:

  • Don’t DRIVE if you’re drinking
  • Don’t DRINK if you’re driving

Gaining your Motorcycle Drivers License

Before you can have your motorcycle drivers license you will have to pass two tests, one will test your knowledge, and one will test your riding skills. Much of the information you will need has already been covered in these articles, but one thing I urge of you – when you get your motorcycle drivers license it isn’t the end of learning, it’s only the beginning.

Here’s wishing you a lifetime of safe journeys!

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