If You Ride A Motorcycle

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General Guidelines for Riding a Motorcycle Safely

Be visible:
  • Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles.
  • Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.
  • Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.
  • Avoid riding in the blind spots of cars and trucks.
  • If possible, flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.
  • Have an escape route in case a motorist doesn’t see you and violates your right-of-way.
Dress for safety:
  • Wear a quality helmet and eye protection. A full-face helmet provides the best protection.
  • Wear leather or other sturdy, protective clothing (jacket and pants); over-the-ankle boots; and gloves.
  • Bright clothing and a light-colored helmet increase the chances of being seen.
  • Dress for a crash as well as for the ride.
Apply effective mental strategies:
  • Constantly search the road for changing conditions. Use the Search-Evaluate-Execute strategy (SEE) to assess and respond to hazards before you have to react to an emergency.
  • Give yourself space and time as you search for traps and escape paths.
  • Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.
  • Use lane positioning to see and be seen.
  • Search for vehicles that may turn across your path, especially at intersections.
  • Use your turn signals for all turns and lane changes.
  • Ride as if you’re invisible.
  • Don’t ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Know and follow the rules of the road.
Know your bike and how to use it:
  • Study your motorcycle’s owner’s manual and make a habit of doing a pre-ride check.
  • Visit msf-usa.org to take one of our online courses or review the wealth of information in our library.
  • Get formal hands-on training and take refresher courses. Call 800.446.9227 or visit msf-usa.org to locate a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCourseSM near you.
  • Develop your riding techniques before venturing into traffic, especially emergency braking and swerving maneuvers. Practice often to keep your skills sharp.
  • Corner within your skill limits. Aggressive cornering is a major cause of crashes.
  • Know how to handle your bike in adverse conditions such as wet or sandy roads, high winds, and uneven surfaces.

Remember: Be mindful of collision traps and escape paths. People driving cars often don’t notice motorcycles. Ride within your skill level and situational limits.