For many people, the freedom of life lies in the ability to take off to any part of the nation, on his motorcycle. There’s an added charm to travelling on a bike, they are a cool, fun and fuel-efficient way to cruise. Yet the reality remains that a crash as a motorcyclist is about 30 times more likely to be fatal than as a car-motorist, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Here are a few tips to ensure that you have the maximum fun without compromising on safety-
• Wear a DOT-approved safety helmet and other protective gear – Despite to popular belief, fashion does not hold itself accountable for safety of the rider. As stressed innumerable times by professional riders, shorts, a T-shirt and sandals are not proper riding attires. One can opt for extreme protection with leathers or reinforced jackets, pants and boots. It is imperative to wear gears that are approved by the Department of Transportation. In cases of getting into a crash, wearing a DOT-approved safety helmet can reduce your risk of an impactful head injury by nearly 50 percent. On similar veins, other protective gear – like riding gloves, boots and jackets can be crucial to protecting you in any occurrence of wreckage.
• Make yourself as visible & predictable as possible when riding - It is prudent to stay out of other motorists’ blind spots whenever possible and to always follow traffic laws so that other drivers’ can easily predict your next move. Being on a motorcycle doesn’t make it any easier for you to see fellow riders so always double-check when changing lanes or turning. You also need to practice braking in all sorts of conditions alongside wearing reflective gear especially when riding at night or in other low-visibility conditions, to ensure supreme visibility.
• Know & maintain your bike – The bike is an extension of the owner, hence it is important to know the vehicle as close as the second skin. Make sure you are familiar with the all the operations of the motorbike – and that you take care of all parts and machinery well. Infact, give your bike a thorough once-over before hitting the road. Taking a quick walk around your bike will give you an idea if there are any loose bolts, leaks or other potential mechanical hazards. A sudden equipment failure can result in a fatal crash. Therefore, you should know your vehicle inside-out to be able to maneuver it properly, in any trying situation.
• Be realistic with your daily mileage – You need to keep realistic expectation of the miles covered. While covering scenic routes, 150 km may take up the optimum level of mileage, whereas turbulent roads take up more time to access. Don’t assume expressway rate on good back roads. It is good to be confident, yet one should still assess his/her skill before taking an unprecedented risk. Make sure that neither your chosen route nor the motorcycle turns to be a bigger task than you can handle.
• Essential accessories – One is generally aware of the climate he/she is about to encounter during the trip; hence it is wise to keep a spare of all the necessary gears. Extra thermal liners and rain covers are essential to face any weather. One of the most integral lessons for all is that Mother Nature is not someone to underestimate. Carrying rain coats, extra pair of shoes & pants that will fit over your riding gear & rain covers for luggage is essential for smart riding. Yet, over packing is a cardinal sin that one can avoid by making a checklist of the required things.
• Always ride defensively – Don’t expect other motorists on the road to look out for you, to comply with traffic laws, to yield you the right-of-way, etc. If you are anticipating drivers to make unsafe or illegal maneuvers, you can stay prepared for potentially risky situations and immediately react to limit your crash risk. Spreading the love for riding is the onus, here, through conscious awareness of the surroundings and a keen sense of responsibility to make your ride pleasurable for you and your fellow motorists.
The article is contributed by Sunil Dhingra Founder and CEO, Jazzmyride