Four Tips for New Motorcycle Riders

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New motorcycle riderMotorcycles are becoming increasingly popular for their flexibility on the road and their potential to save fuel, but they also pose some risk for their operators and other road users if they are not handled properly. On average, 42 motorcycle drivers are killed and 852 are injured in Alberta every year (Government of Alberta Ministry of Transportation, 2014). To prevent these accidents, new motorcycle drivers should remember the following:


  • According to the Government of Alberta, the most common mistake for experienced and new drivers alike is to drive the motorcycle off the road. 45 per cent of all mistakes fall in this category. Remember that new riders cannot weave in and out of traffic or control their bikes at speed on curvy roads. Ride within your skill level, and improve your skills on the safe courses that training courses provide.

  • 18 per cent of motorcycle accidents are caused by riders following too closely. New riders think their motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars, and that is true. Still, two-wheel vehicles are less stable than four-wheel ones, so you should keep sudden breaking to a minimum. Further, the motorcycle does not break as fast as you think, especially not on wet or dusty roads. 

  • Unsafe overtaking makes up 8 per cent of motorcycle rider mistakes (Government of Alberta Ministry of Transportation, 2014). New riders tend to underestimate the size and overestimate the speed of their bikes, so judge carefully and leave about twice as much room as you think you will need. If you are riding beside a vehicle, you are likely to be in the driver's blind spot, so in case the driver you want to pass simultaneously decides to pass the vehicle in front, remember to signal before you pass. If you want to change lanes to pass slow traffic, check that no cars around you have identified the same free spot you are targeting, and check that the car behind you slows down after you have signalled your intentions. 

  • Wear the proper clothing. Motorcycle retailers sell specialised safety gear that will provide some protection in case of a fall. Buy protective boots, trousers and jackets. A helmet is absolutely crucial. Wear bright or florescent clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night so drivers can see you.

Your motorcycle is a lot smaller and difficult to see than other vehicles, and you have no airbags and a steel frame to protect you. Drive defensively.