User Submission: Al Wells shares his experience and offers advice on how to avoid road rage and traffic accidents.
Education is sometimes defined as a “planned experience, designed to bring about a change of behaviour.”
We are all teachers! Don’t believe me? Check your self-talk the next time that idiot in the cage cuts you off! You will likely find yourself saying “I’ll teach that … …. a lesson” with some added colourful and graphic expletives that would make a sailor proud! Our imaginations then go into overtime to find some creative “plan of action” that will “bring about a change of behaviour” such as a heavy boot finding its way through the driver’s side window.
Sometimes, unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle may decide to offer up their own lesson, often resulting in a painful experience for all parties involved. While this may provide an educational opportunity, and perhaps a test of your physical skills, collateral damage is usually the final outcome and in the end, everyone fails the final exam!
If you talk to anyone who has had their motorcycle compete with other solid objects, the outcome is consistent…motorcycles lose! If the contact results in the rider being involuntarily launched from the motorcycle, the injuries sustained can spoil one’s whole weekend! Many of the causes of motorcycle accidents are preventable and can be easily avoided if people are more careful and attentive.
Trust him on this. Al has earned the nickname “Bear” when one of his rides had an unexpected visitor! – Adri
How then do we stay healthy and at the same time educate the public without resorting to road rage? The answer has not changed much:
- Ride like you are invisible, because in the eyes of most cagers you are.
- Expect drivers to do stupid moves and rarely will they disappoint you, (The Hurt report concluded that two-thirds of Motorcycle/motor vehicle crashes were the result of the car driver failing to see the motorcycle approaching and violating the rider’s right-of-way)
- Keep your head on a swivel to maintain a safety net around you.
- Be especially vigilant and plan an escape route at every intersection.
- When with a group, park your ego and ride your own ride, not allowing yourself to be coerced into riding more aggressively than your experience allows.
- Keep a cool head and use your horn if you encounter a driver who does not seem to be paying attention.
- Keep your riding skills honed by practicing emergency braking and manoeuvres.
- Lay off the booze while riding (the Hurt report showed that almost half of rider fatalities involved alcohol).
- Take an advanced motorcycle riding course.
- Use all the protective gear, all the time.
- Maintain your motorcycle; perform a safety check of your bike before each ride.
Wear Motorcycle Safety Gear
There’s a higher risk of road accidents when you’re riding a motorcycle that can cause terrible damages to you and your motorcycle. That’s why wearing the appropriate motorcycle protective gear is important to minimize sustained motorcycle crash injuries.
If you’re ever in an accident that wreck your motorcycle, you can still be safe or minimize your physical injuries by wearing a full-face helmet, gloves, leather clothing, and non-skid boots.
Check Your Motorcycle Regularly
Like driving a car, you should always check your motorcycle before driving. Inspect the tires for bulge or crack, or sign of wear or tear due to defect or low pressure that could result in a blowout. Also, make sure to inspect under your motorcycle for signs of an oil leak.
Inspect your lights, including the taillights, signals, and headlight for both high and low beams. Every week, make it a point to check the cool and hydraulic fluids of your motorcycle. Before driving, check your motorcycle’s clutch and throttle, test the brakes, and clean your mirrors.
Obey Traffic Rules
To avoid accidents, practice road safety at all times and obey traffic rules for motorcycles. Here are some examples of road safety tips and traffic rules when driving a motorcycle:
- Don’t overtake on the right side. If you want to do so, overtake slowly on the left side, which is nearer to the driver’s line of sight.
- To avoid an accident caused by blind spots, always have ample space between other vehicles and your motorcycle so you can easily maneuver if needed and you remain visible on the road.
- Avoid splitting lanes or driving in between two lanes. The drivers of the vehicles ahead may not notice you right away and turn inadvertently, which often results in a motorcycle accident.
- For places with local motorcycle ordinance, always follow the lane assigned for motorcycles.
Educating the public is a real challenge! Many still view motorcyclists as noisy, belligerent troublemakers. The perception is not helped by those of us who remove the baffles from our pipes; gun our engines at every opportunity; zip dangerously through traffic and flip the bird towards other drivers at the slightest provocation.
In order to gain respect from the public, we too must be respectful. That means keeping the noise down in populated areas, being polite to other drivers, not showboating and keeping a healthy distance behind other traffic. If you observe most veteran riders, you will notice that they do this automatically… which is why they are still around to ride!
– Al Wells