MOTORCYCLE SAFETY TIPS EVERY RIDER SHOULD KNOW IN 2020
The freedom associated with riding a motorcycle is one that can’t be explained fully. To some, riding a motorcycle is like working a day job to get paid at the end of the day and to others it’s a passion of love and dedication with therapeutic/meditative outcomes.
However, riding a motorcycle is a dangerous affair without taking into consideration the proper measures and safety precautions.
Kenya recorded 3572 fatalities, 6938 serious injuries and 5186 slight injuries as at December 2019. This is according to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).
According to global status report on road safety in 2018 by World Health Organization (WHO), fatalities emanating from road traffic accidents (RTAs) have increased to 1.3 million per year (2018). More than 93% of these accidents, occur in low-income and middle-income countries.
Car related deaths are fewer than motorcycle deaths. According to the U.S NHTSA, motorcycle deaths occur 28 times more than deaths from any other vehicle.
While Riding a motorcycle, there is no protection like that of a car body therefore, motorcyclists are more likely to be knocked off their bikes, run down by bigger vehicles, fly into objects like trees and other vehicles or even get crushed in an accident.
For those who love riding motorcycles whether you are a beginner or a seasoned rider, here are some ways to ride safely to avoid crashes which could result to serious head and body injuries, paralysis or even death.
Wear a Motorcycle Helmet
According to the World Health Organisation(WHO), Injuries to the head and neck are the main cause of death, severe injury and disability among users of motorcycles and bicycles.
In European countries, head injuries contribute to around 75% of deaths among motorized two-wheeler users. in some low-income and middle-income countries head injuries are estimated to account for up to 88% of such fatalities
Whether you are going for a long or short distance, it is important to wear a helmet. Kenya has a comprehensive helmet law that requires:
- Mandatory helmet wearing, on all types of motorcycles and on all roads.
- Bodaboda riders should wear yellow helmets for high chances of visibility on the road and also reserve another helmet for the passenger.
- Helmets need to conform to a KEBS standard.
There are safety standards that every motorcycle rider should look for when purchasing a helmet. The “DOT”, “ECE” and “SNELL” tags are the main standards to look out for when buying a helmet.
Some other things to look out for when buying a helmet include:
- Face shield to protect your eyes and face from rain, flying insects which can be irritating when they get inside the helmet and road debris inform of pebbles and stones which can be thrown off from vehicle tyres.
- Make sure the size of the helmet is an exact fit. You should be able to nod your head without the helmet moving which means that in the event of a crash the helmet will still be in its place.
- Make sure the helmet is properly ventilated to ensure that you breathe comfortable and don’t feel like you are suffocating while on the road.
Always Wear Protective Gear While Riding
It is very important to wear protective clothing while riding your motorcycle as it acts like your second skin. Do you remember when you were a kid riding a bicycle then you fall down injuring your knees and hands and getting all bloody? Whether you are at high or low speeds on a motorcycle, the results will be more fatal and serious.
It is therefore important to wear the following protective gear:
Motorcycle Jackets are either made of leather or textile material which are able to resist abrasion when one falls to the ground. Some also include water resistant membranes that helps keep you dry when in a rainy weather. Leather jackets are more durable but are not comfortable to be used in all weather conditions.
When choosing a jacket, make sure it has double stitches to enforce strength and protect from abrasion. Some are designed with perforations and vents to allow proper aeration during hot weather. They should also have CE approved body armour that cushions the rider in case of an accident absorbing the impact on the shoulders, elbows and back.
Most riders overlook pants thinking that the normal jeans they wear is enough to protect them. This is far from the truth as cotton used in most denim jeans has less than a quarter of the abrasion resistance of leather or good textile riding pants.
Just like jackets, Pants are also made of leather or textile material and should also have CE approved body armour to protect the hips and knees from impact and abrasion.
It is highly recommended to wear leather gloves as they have high abrasion resistance. When you fall down, most of the time your hands will fall first as you try to protect yourself from the impact on the ground.
In this case, gloves come in handy as they protect you from grinding your hands on the tarmac.
Some gloves have Kevlar knuckles and wrist protection. It is important to choose gloves that fit perfectly to prevent them from coming off in case of an accident.
Good motorcycle boots should cover the lower part of the leg, ankle and the entire foot. You should not wear slippers, snickers or loafers when riding as they do not protect your foot in any way against impact.
They should have ankle protection and oil-resistant soles for a firm grip on the ground. Most importantly, the boots should be a perfect fit to ensure comfortable riding and should not be too tight to prevent ventilation.
Familiarize yourself with the Controls and inspect your bike
It is important that before you get on the road, you get to know the nitty gritties of your bike. These include making sure levers and pedals are within your reach, make sure the horn and light switches are working as required. Make sure that you inspect your ride by checking the tyre pressure, oil leaks, battery status, loose bolts and other mechanical hazards.
Only Ride Sober
Always make sure that you are sober when riding your motorcycle. Impairment plays a big role in motorcycle accidents. Do not drink and ride!!
Antilock braking system(ABS)
When looking for a motorcycle, you should choose a model which has anti-lock braking system(ABS). This prevents a motorcycle wheel from locking when a rider presses hard on the brakes leading the motorcycle to skid/slide and eventually crash.
In many cases, motorcycles with ABS systems have been found to be involved in fewer crashes on the road than those without ABS systems.
Be a Defensive Rider
It is always advisable to avoid riding in another driver’s blind spot like behind a lorry or bus because the driver cannot spot you easily and thus will not know you are there.
Always anticipate and be ready for anything on the road. This is because not all road users are careful and perceive motorcyclists as equal road users therefore you should ride as if they do not see you.
Learn how to read corners and make sure to always brake when negotiating corners to avoid finding yourself in the opposite lane.
Always read and be aware of the road conditions and road signs so that you may adjust your riding style appropriately.
Make sure you ride within your limits and in case you are doing a group ride, do not force yourself to keep up with other experienced riders as this can put you in jeopardy.
Last but not least, some people say that “loud pipes save lives”. This has not yet been proven but most riders say it helps make other drivers become aware of your presence.