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General Guidelines For Riding A Motorcycle Safely

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

Are you a beginner motorcyclist? These expert tips will help you stay safe and make the most of your experience!

Riding a motorcycle, whether you're a new or seasoned rider, can be challenging and comes with a lot of responsibility. Although you're not in a vehicle, the rules of the road still apply to you just like every other driver on the road. We put together some helpful tips that will make you feel more prepared before you ride, and while you're out on the open road!

1. Know the Law

Regulations regarding the operation of motorcycles and use of safety gear, such as helmets, may differ in different parts of the country. Check with local law enforcement or the area Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what the laws are where you will be riding. And make sure that you're following all applicable laws.

2. Be Prepared

• Make sure that you and your bike are properly licensed before you hit the road.

• Get insurance so you and your passengers are properly protected.

• Be aware of the current road conditions.

• Read your owner's manual, and make sure you have it and a small tool kit with you when you're riding.

3. Dress for safety

• Wear a quality helmet and eye protection.

• Wear bright clothing and a light-colored helmet.

• Wear leather or other thick, protective clothing.

• Choose long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.

• Remember – the only thing between you and the road is your protective gear.

4. Be visible

• Remember that motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles and reacting in time.

• Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.

• Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.

• Be aware of the blind spots cars and trucks have.

• Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.

• If a motorist doesn’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn.

5. Apply effective mental strategies

• Constantly search the road for changing conditions. Use MSF’s Search, Evaluate, Execute strategy (SEESM) to increase time and space safety margins.

• Give yourself space and time to respond to other motorists’ actions.

• Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.

• Use lane positioning to be seen; ride in the part of a lane where you are most visible.

• Watch for turning vehicles.

• Signal your next move in advance.

• Avoid weaving between lanes.

• Pretend you’re invisible, and ride extra defensively.

• Don't ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

• Know and follow the rules of the road, and stick to the speed limit.

6. Know your bike and how to use it

• Learn More. Improve your riding skills by taking a beginner or experienced Motorcycle Rider Course from a training center recognized by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

• Practice. Develop your riding techniques before going into heavy traffic. Know how to handle your bike in conditions such as wet or sandy roads, high winds, and uneven surfaces.

• Be Sharp. Alcohol, drugs and fatigue can all impair your ability to reason and make sound judgments. Do not drink or do drugs and then drive.

7. Remember

Give yourself space. People driving cars often just don’t see motorcycles. Even when drivers do see you, chances are they’ve never been on a motorcycle and can’t properly judge your speed.

If you have any other tips for your fellow riders, feel free to mention them in the comments below!

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