Motorcycle Operator Manual – Part I

Motorbike safety gear

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Motorcycle Operator Manual – Part I

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.

Before You Ride – Be Prepared

The preparations you make before you even get your leg over your motorcycle and push the button can have a lot of influence over whether you will arrive safely at your destination.  Before you ride your motorcycle, remember the motto of the Boy Scout – Be Prepared.

  • Wear the Right Gear – the “right gear” is the gear which will give you adequate protection in case you are involved in an accident. If you wear: a DOT approved helmet, extra eye or face protection and protective clothing – there’s a very good chance that even if you do crash, you won’t be badly injured. According to statistics, one in every five motorcycle accidents results in injuries to the head and/or neck, in fact, these types of injuries are the major cause of fatalities in all motorcycle accidents, but guess what – if you wear a DOT certified helmet, you can substantially reduce the risk of head and neck injuries. Here’s a bit more interesting information too – most motorcycle crashes occur on journeys of less than 5 miles, at speeds of slower than 30 mph, so it really is important that you wear your helmet every single time you ride around the block (it will increases your chances of survival threefold). Take a look at these tips about how to buy a motorcycle helmet. Right, now that we’ve sorted out your head, what about the rest of you? The right clothing for riding your motorcycle should keep you warm and comfortable, protect you from the weather, the heat and moving bits of your motorcycle and make sure that other road users can see you clearly. It should also be padded or strong enough to protect you in case of an accident. Pants and jackets should be a snug fit, you don’t really want anything flapping about in the wind, but they should not restrict your movement in any way. Leather is probably the best choice of materials, but there are some pretty sturdy synthetic choices available these days which are good too, especially if they’ve got plenty of padding. Even if the weather is warm you should wear your jacket – just in case.  You should always wear sturdy boots or shoes which cover and support your ankles, and always carry a rain-suit with you just in case – you can’t expect to control your motorcycle properly if you’re numb with cold and wet through to the core can you?
  • Be Familiar With Your Motorcycle – the chances are that you’re going to run into all sorts of potential bother whilst you’re riding your motorcycle, so make sure that you and your motorcycle know each other intimately before you set off on any journey. Read the owner’s manual, make sure that you have the right motorcycle for your experience – don’t get anything too big too soon, make sure that you can touch the ground with your feet for starters, before we even think about engine size and power – make sure that you’re familiar with all of the controls on your motorcycle and check that everything is in good working order. Check that the lights are working including the turn signals, check the brakes, the horn and that you can actually see in your mirrors. Make sure that the controls are easy to use, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience of motorcycle riding. Do you know where the choke is? What about the engine cut-off switch, the horn, the fuel supply valve (if it has one). You need to be familiar with all of this stuff before you so much as press a button or kick the kick starter, and that applies to your own motorcycle, or one that you’ve borrowed. Remember, a minor technical fault can often be nothing more than inconvenient when you’re driving a car, but on a motorcycle it can potentially place you in an extremely dangerous situation.
  • Know Your Responsibilities – the word “accident” is bandied about quite a lot when you’re talking about motorcycles and driving, in fact, I’ve used it myself a few times already on this page, but when you really think about it, “accident” implies that some unforeseen event happened through no-body’s negligence or fault, which is usually so not the case when something happens in traffic. Most of the time, blame can be apportioned to at least one, if not all of the people involved in the incident.  Think about this scenario for a minute – you’re at the traffic lights and someone tries to nip through on the yellow light just before it turns red, meanwhile your light has turned green and you pull out without even looking to see if the road is clear, bam! Okay, now maybe they didn’t fulfil their part of the bargain by trying to squeeze out when they shouldn’t have, but you didn’t exactly hold up your end of the deal either did you, pulling out from the intersection without checking that all was clear? Just because they started the chain of events, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you couldn’t have avoided it.

Safe Driving Tips

  • Be Seen – make sure that you have visible gear on, your headlight switched on and are in the best lane position for other road users to see you
  • Signal – clearly and well in advance, let people know where you’re going
  • Keep Back – always try to maintain enough space between yourself and the other vehicles (particularly the one directly in front of you) to deal with the unexpected
  • Be Alert – try to see what’s happening all around you at all times, around 12 seconds ahead on your path of travel, and watch out for any potential hazards
  • Prepare to Act – remember all of your crash avoidance skills, you never know when you might need them

Even if you are involved in a crash whilst riding your motorcycle, let’s be honest, it doesn’t really make a difference as to whose fault it is, you’re likely to be the one who ends up in the back of an ambulance.


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