Driving Tips From A Seasoned Motorcyclist

motorcyclist tipsAs an avid motorcycle rider, my survival depends on sustaining a significantly above-average level of road awareness. If I get in an accident, I will lose… every time. It does not matter whose fault it was when you are lying in a coma.

Despite the dangers of my chosen method of transportation, the skills I have learned transfer quite well to four-wheel vehicles. I have become a much better driver, and my new found talents lower the risk of a car accident, both for myself and those around me. Here is what I have learned.

1) Use Your Mirrors
This sounds so ridiculously simple, but it is one of the first things you learn while riding a motorcycle. The dangers behind you are just as serious as the dangers ahead. You should be constantly checking your side mirrors and rear view mirror, maintaining a 360-degree awareness of the traffic surrounding you. Why is this so important? In most accident scenarios, you do not see it approaching in slow motion. It happens quickly, in the blink of an eye.. You have to already know where the surrounding vehicles are located.

If you have never made a mental attempt to stay aware of the surrounding traffic, this prospect might seem a bit overwhelming at first. But do not worry – it is like that for everyone. For the first month or so, you will have to be very intentional about checking your mirrors and anticipating vehicle movement. But over time, it becomes second nature, and you will find a greater ease of mind as you drive.

2) Know Your Speed Limit
Notice I did not say, “Know the speed limit.” As a driver, you have to know your own personal speed limit relative to the traffic around you. What does this mean? Never go so fast that it impedes your ability to brake and swerve. If I am riding in a congested area, I never speed up to the point that I could not stop completely without hitting the car in front of me. Going back to point #1, I am always aware of escape points within a 360-degree radius, and I never go so fast as to be unable to swerve, brake, careen, or topple safely into an escape point at a moment’s notice. While the context changes slightly for driving a full-size vehicle, the principle remains. Never go faster than your own personal speed limit. Never drive past your own point of control. This requires a healthy dose of humility and self-awareness on your part, but it could save your life.

3) Be Ready To Speed Up
Chances are you already had a fairly good understanding of our last two points before reading this article. Your parents taught you to check your mirrors and retain a constant awareness of your surroundings, and you are naturally a safe driver, opting to err on the side of traveling slower than necessary, rather than risk speeding out of control. But stay tuned, because this is where most “safe” drivers trip up. Sometimes the safest thing you can do is speed up.

As a “safe” driver, you do not pose much of a danger to yourself. The primary source of danger for you lies in the faults of the drivers surrounding you. And this is why speed can be your greatest safety device. As a motorcycle rider, I know that the moment I step on my bike, I become invisible to most of the driving populace. I have to assume that no one sees me, so I am always safer the farther away I get from other vehicles. When I see anything suspicious, and I have an exit path, and I speed out of there on the double. Many drivers make the mistake of hanging around in close proximity to bad drivers, because they are scared to just speed on out of there and create a bit of separation. Do not be scared! Get moving and get out of there!

4) Keep Up With Basic Maintenance
This one goes out to the 25-and-under crowd: do not ignore basic maintenance on your car. Even if you have to do it yourself, get it done! This is literally the easiest part of vehicle ownership, and yet, somehow, an inordinate amount of inexperienced drivers prefer to get themselves in unnecessary trouble in the middle of the road. Change the tires when they start to wear out. Change the oil and air filters regularly. Use a bit of fuel cleaner from time to time. Wash your car every now and then. Take ownership of your vehicle, and odds are, it will serve you well. The last thing you need is your engine locking up on the middle of the highway. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

5) Adopt A Safety-First Mentality
By “safety-first mentality”, I do not mean avoiding fun at all cost. Taking risks is a major part of life, and few truly good things are attained without a bit of risk involved. What I am saying is simply this: do not be foolhardy. If you take a risk, even in a driving context, it should be calculated, and the potential benefit should be well worth the risk. Arriving at a party three minutes earlier is not worth the risk of being T-boned by an 18-wheeler. Value yourself. Value your personal safety as well as the safety of those around you. Take your health seriously, and adopt a driving mentality that puts your safety as the highest priority.

Safe, successful driving is all about feeling the road and the vehicles around you. Practice does not make perfect unless it is perfect practice. If you read these tips and found yourself lacking in one area or another, start implementing them now. As long as you are breathing and functionally capable of commandeering a car, it is never too late to start practicing safe driving habits. Follow these tips, and you will increase the odds of keeping your butt out of a car accident.

This information has been provided by an independent author and the views herein expressed are neither supported or endorsed by Goldberg & Osborne or any of its employees and serves as a reference only.