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Motorcycle Safety

Harry Clark, former ABATE of New York Safety Officer

Safe & Aware

Riding Season Begins - Winter is just about over, with this yearís riding season now getting under way. This is a good time to review safety concepts, and work on attitude adjustments, if called for. Hereís a list I found on the Internet, which appears to be a good definition of safe riding, and a good place to start: continued

Group Riding - People go on group rides to enjoy the ride and socialize with their fellow riders. It just isn't as much fun if it isn't done safely. People resent being exposed to extra risk by others' actions. It takes knowledge to do a group ride safely, and have it be an enjoyable experience for all. continued

Rural Bike Wrecks - Most riders know that it is car drivers who are at fault in most collisions with motorcyclists. This is a reason why ABATE, AMA, and other bikers' rights organizations are fighting for increased penalties for motorists who violate our right-of-way. But here's something you may not be aware of: more than half of bike wrecks in rural areas are single-vehicle accidents. There were no cars involved in these wrecks, which is why they are called single-vehicle. continued

Road Construction Work Zones - My view on safety is that it involves the rider, other motorists' behavior, and the road itself. We've made some progress on that last item recently, with some revised policy that is being placed into effect for New York State Department of Transportation road projects. This new policy is being implemented by something called Engineering Instructions, which are taking effect now. One is called "Motorcycle Safety Measures on Milled Pavements - Revised Specifications," and the other "Motorcycle Safety Measures on Milled Pavements continued

Intersections - Most bikers know by now that most car/bike collisions happen at intersections. We know we need to be careful at intersections. Still, a little refresher course canít hurt.
Left-turners are a serious threat. Letís look at what most people consider ďleft-turners:Ē oncoming cars that turn left in front of motorcyclists causing collisions. This happens most often at intersections, but can also happen at driveways.
Letís imagine a car driver who is driving along, mind on other things, cell phone in ear, just had a fight with his spouse, etc, and whose mind is not fully on driving. continued

Winter Driving - Well, we aren't doing much riding this time of year, let's face it. But there are some things going on in the winter that, if we pay attention, can help us be better riders when the weather does relent, brighten up, and warm up. I'll pass on discussing slip-sliding and how to avoid spinning out on icy roads, and any discussion on how to handle your 4-wheeler during winter road conditions. Instead, let's look at that fundamental principal of safe driving, making yourself visible to other motorists.
continued

Winter Maintenance and Riding - By the time you read this, the riding season is pretty much over here in New York. Winter separates us from riding, at least for a while.

For those of us who like to get a ride in during the winter, I recommend the best in riding gear. Youíve got to keep the cold air off your skin. An electric vest, similar to an electric blanket, can make a winter ride not only endurable, but enjoyable. Mine plugs right into the bikeís electric system, and puts out lots of heat. Like it or not, a full-face helmet is the way to go when itís really cold, and you want or need to get a ride in. Riding in the cold is not a case of how much cold you can endure. Itís a matter of gearing up to stay reasonably warm. Riding in the cold without proper gear can lead to hypothermia, which can impair your judgment and lead to an accident. Staying warm is as much a matter of safety as it is comfort. continued

Homework - Itís winter, and few of us will be riding our motorcycles much in the next few months. Still, there is an opportunity over the winter to improve our defensive driving skills for safer riding next season, and to improve our driving safety now. My personal belief is that by becoming the safest driver possible, you can dramatically reduce your risks not only on your bike, but in your car as well. And since road accidents pose a significant risk of injury or death to almost everyone, it is effort well spent.One challenge in motivating people to become safer drivers is the belief by most drivers that they are already good drivers. Attitude surveys show that around 90 percent of people feel they are already good drivers. Look around you on the road: are 90 percent of the drivers good? Or is the reverse true, that 90 percent are mediocre or poor drivers? continued