Statistics all over the world differ about many things but when it comes to motorcycle accidents, they all agree on one thing: that the majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by two issues. Firstly, motorcycle accidents are caused by other road users violating or obstructing a motorcycle’s right of way; secondly, that a large proportion of motorcycle accidents happen because the motorcyclist fails to negotiate a corner correctly.
99% of motorcycle accidents fall into those two categories, right? Statistically, those two types of accidents have always been at the top of the list and it’s very unlikely that their position is ever going to change. Here's a few handy tips to stop you from falling victim to these.
In at number one, we take a look at accidents caused by other road users: this can happen any number of ways but by far the most common type of motorcycle accident will happen at a junction, a crossroads, a roundabout – you name it, anywhere where you have to put your faith and trust in another road user… We’ve all seen it happen, either on film or in person and it’s not nice. So how do you avoid getting hit?
As much as the fault may lie with another party, the best way for you to keep yourself safe is to look out for your own best interests. How do you do that? By using that good old- fashioned hazard perception.
Think back to your theory test and that hazard perception section and remember that video taking you down the road and you having to click what you thought was a hazard or what couldbecome a hazard. That’s the type of thinking that you have to apply for every journey that you make on two wheels; it wasn’t something that you should immediately forget as soon as your licence was in your hand. When you’re riding along, everything could be a hazard (interestingly, if you click everything on the screen for your test, you’ll fail…) and you should approach every junction, every set of lights, every side road and every overtaking manoeuvre with your hazard perception cap on.
You should always be scanning for hazards and looking as far in front of you as possible; this way you will have ample time to slow down, react, formulate a plan and proceed accordingly before you’re anywhere near the danger zone. If you can’t see what’s going on, follow the road signage and take what it says as a fact rather than a hint. If you’re on an open road but approaching a side road, slow down; you can go fast again once you’ve passed the road but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Reading the signs works for that scenario but there are times when you can’t always believe what’s shown to you; the car in front indicating left may go right at the last moment – that happens a lot and you shouldn’t assume that the driver will do as they say they will. The real moral to the story is never assume anything.
All of these things are easy to say but actually putting them into practice can be difficult, especially as human beings are ‘human’ and our concentration lapses and our minds wander. As motorcyclists, if our concentration takes a dive, it’s usually followed by our bodies taking a dive too and sadly, in many cases, it’s too late to learn from experience. Always look ahead and see everything as a hazard; it leaves you time lower your speed, formulate a plan and live to ride another day.
Negotiating corners is where a lot of motorcyclists get unstuck; even if it’s never happened to you, it’s probably a safe bet that it nearlyhas at least once. So what does this ‘failure to negotiate a corner’ mean? The basic
answer: the motorcyclist attempts a corner and either panics or gets distracted, tries to remedy the situation by trying to stand the bike up or use the brakes and a crash subsequently occurs. There are a lot of reasons why this type of accident happens; it could be a lack of faith in the machinery, target fixation, distraction from other vehicles or the age old ‘wasn’t looking where they were going’ problem. Amazingly, the majority of the accidents that occur in this way could’ve been avoided.
First things first, remember your training and every conversation with everyone you’ve ever had about riding motorcycles: it’s all about looking where you want to go. As you enter a corner, you should always be looking at your exit point, not on the ground in front of you. You should be looking at nothing else, not the barriers, not the roads edge, nor the white line and especially not the bike in front of you; only where you’re going is important.
If that’s not the problem, it could be a rider’s lack of faith or experience with their motorcycle. In a lot of situations, riders who fall only fell because they were afraid of the bike tipping over. Motorcycle’s are incredible machines and they can lean a long way; not everyone can go elbow to the ground like Marc Marquez but the amount of lean on a motorcycle is a lot more than people think. When rider’s panic about their lean angle, they tend to bottle it altogether, laying off the throttle and standing the bike up; as this happens the rider’s concentration has shifted from where they were going to the road directly in front of them – on a corner, the road in front of you isn’t the exit, it’s usually a crash barrier, the other side of the road or into the path of another vehicle – which is everywhere except where they wanted to go.
Avoiding this kind of problem is a matter of confidence; a rider’s confidence in their motorcycle’s abilities and rider’s confidence in their speed. In the majority of failed corner negotiations, the bike could handle the corner, the rider couldn’t handle the speed and that was the problem. Braking is often used instead of acceleration; if you’re panicking in a corner, a bit of throttle should do the trick. Throttling forces the bike to rise on its suspension, giving you the space you need to get around the bend. If you’re still not confident of your bikes lean angle, take it to a controlled area where no other traffic can get in your way and try some slow speed lean by riding in tight circles. Within a few tries, you’ll have realised that your bike can do a lot more than you previously thought and even then, it’s got more to give.
So those are the two big ones; both are very different in nature but they both ultimately come with one solution: use your eyes and your head and look exactly where you want to go. It’s old advice and we’re all bored of hearing it but it’s the best advice there is.
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