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Avoiding collisions on a motorcycle: Part 1

Motorcycle crashes are typically far more devastating to the biker than to the occupants of a standard vehicle. Therefore, if you are a biker, it is wise to acquaint yourself with important safety techniques and driving tactics that may help you avoid potentially life-altering collisions.

A particularly common danger to bikers is left-turning vehicles. When a car is making a left turn at an intersection, and a bike is heading straight through that same intersection in the opposite direction, the left-turning driver often does not see the biker until it is too late. So what can you, as the biker, do to protect yourself?

  • Always have your hands on the brake and clutch controls, especially when approaching an intersection. This puts you in the position to react quickly to any dangers.
  • If you are coming to an intersection, pay close attention to vehicles in the opposing left-turn lane. Slow down and prepare to avoid any drivers who may not see you. You may also want to develop and practice safely maneuvering around oncoming vehicles every month or so to keep your skills sharp.
  • Particularly when on your bike, a yellow light does NOT mean speed up so you make the light. Never, ever speed through intersections because this is where bikers are at their most vulnerable. Take your time. Never attempt to weave your way through traffic, especially when you are approaching an intersection.
  • Stay in the far left of your lane as you approach the left-turning cars coming towards you. If you stay far to the left, you increase the chances that oncoming drivers will see you, and thereby clear your path as you sail through the intersection.
  • Buy and install modulators for your headlights. You can use these devices to alert distracted drivers to your presence by flashing high beams when necessary.

While on your motorcycle, these methods can optimize your chances of avoiding a collision when an oncoming vehicle is making a left-turn in front of you. In Part 2 of this post, we will examine techniques that bikers can use to keep themselves safer when faced with other potentially dangerous road conditions.