February 25, 2018, 6:03 am
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ROAD SAFETY SERIES: Rider safety needs no law if done deliberately

COMMON sense demands that riding safely needs no imposition. 

It should instead be a deliberate act, Not merely a force of habit but consciously done by every rider. Here are, based on many experiences of falling over and close shaves, nine pieces of advice to develop safe riding, by oneself or with a back rider.

SAFETY GEAR. Riding makes one very vulnerable. This vulnerability changes quickly depending on speed and the complexity of the ride itself. Riding exposes the riders to various kinds of hazards, which can be prevented by correct riding gear, most especially a properly rated helmet. Helmets protect against serious and fatal brain injuries. For riders this can be combined with proper eyewear and face protectors for open face helmets. Closed-face helmets (banned by some local governments) have built-in visors or other face guards. Safety gear extends to all passengers who ride “shotgun.” Wear long pants, shoes (not slippers) and a helmet for short rides. Add gloves, riding boots and a long-sleeved, armored jacket for the long haul.

BE SEEN. When riding, always wear colorful clothes or if you must do the cool black stance, don a reflector over that. It is crucial other motorists can quickly spot you. Always have your tail lights on and ensure your brake light are working. Being seen does not mean an array of LED lights and changing your tail light from red to white. Being seen also means driving in the safer left side of the road.  

RIDER SAFETY EXTENDED. Backrides are what saddles are made for. But to make it safe for passengers common sense dictates that they sit behind you on the motorcycle with their feet are securely on the footrests. This means kids cannot be passengers.

LOOK AHEAD. One of the most important lessons gained from training with the Motorcycle Safety Federation (MSF) riding course is to look ahead. Looking ahead allows the brain to scan and avoid “target fixation” which is a phenomena that distracts those engage in highly concentrated, multiple input activities such as motorcyclists. Driving also needs concentration but airconditioning, automatic transmissions, distance sensors take away much of the stress. Riding on the other hand is devoid of such luxuries, and is made more stressful by a much-needed skill—balance.  Looking ahead provides riders a mental picture that will help set up for a turn, or an ascent or avoiding an obstacle.

DISTANCIA, AMIGO! Distance around an imagined and pre-determined space also increases the margin of safety. Common sense dictates that keeping distance from a truck, car or a motorcycle makes for safer riding. That’s it.

RESPECT. RESPECT. RESPECT. Respect is the easiest and most difficult riding habit to develop. Respecting all those who share the road, even if they do not respect you is so difficult.  The default mode is defensive riding. Yield and give way to bikes and pedestrians, motorcyclists never win. Avoid encounters with cars and trucks, as riders never win too. But stand your ground against blatant traffic offenders preferably with a helmet cam. 

 LEARN FROM SURVIVORS. Any motorcycle-trainer is a survivor. Surviving both on-the-road close calls and of the theoretical and practical tests in motorcycle certifications, riding academies and training courses for motorcycles are few because it is more difficult to teach. Thus taking any certified motorcycle-training course is a major safety advantage. Yamaha, Ducati, Safe-T Riders are all available motorcycle training courses. Honda Riding Academy has been around for 3 decades and has a long history of producing excellent riders. It is a good idea to invest in safety. 

This story was produced under the Bloomberg Initiative-Global Road Safety Media Fellowship implemented by the World Health Organization, Department of Transportation and Communications and VERA Files.
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