10 Motorcycle Safety Tips to Keep You on the Road

Motorcycle Awareness Month

Whether protected by three tonnes of metal and a seatbelt or by leathers and a helmet, all drivers are responsible for motorcycle safety. In fact, besides speed and inattentive driving, the main factor contributing to motorcycle incidents in British Columbia is a failure by other drivers to yield the right-of-way.

Provincial laws covering helmet standards and passengers should help reduce the risk of riding and potential injuries; however, greater overall awareness of motorcycles is still vital for preventing serious incidents.

In the name of motorcycle safety, we want to share some tips for bikers and four-wheeled travellers to encourage all drivers to move in harmony.

Driving a car or truck?

  1. Treat motorcycles like they are as big as other vehicles. Sure, motorcycles don’t take up as much lane space as a dual cab pickup, but they often adjust lane positions to avoid road debris and respond to wind and passing vehicles. Allow motorcycles plenty of lane space.
  2. Double-check those blind spots. The motorcycle’s smaller size still has to be taken into consideration, especially when changing lanes. Use your turn signal and take extra care to ensure the way is clear.
  3. Back off. Stopping distances for cars and motorcycles are about equal, but wet conditions can make quick stops difficult for both. What might be a mere “fender bender” between two cars could end up much more serious with a motorcycle involved.
  4. Be extra cautious pulling in front. Due to their smaller size, motorcycles can appear farther away than they actually are. They can also be hidden behind other larger vehicles, so ensure you have lots of space to turn in front without interrupting the oncoming motorcycle. Does the bike have its turning signal on? Play it safe and wait until it turns.
  5. Change lanes for merging motorcycles. While we suggest getting out of the way for all vehicles merging onto the highway, changing lanes to leave room for motorcyclists is particularly important.

Driving a motorcycle?

  1. Avoid centre of lane when traffic slows. It’s best to have a quick exit strategy when traffic suddenly grinds to a halt. Keeping to the left or right of your lane allows you to escape quickly if a trailing vehicle fails to stop in time.
  2. Dress to be seen and protected. Wearing reflective clothing and bright colours helps other drivers see you. Also, wearing an approved helmet and garments made of leather, or Kevlar, can protect you if you fall. Protect your body from head to toe.
  3. Target open spaces. Think of it as an invisible shield. The more space you surround yourself with, the better. That way, you’re staying out of drivers’ blind spots and avoiding any sudden movements.
  4. Cancel those signals. Continuing straight ahead? Get used to checking your signals when coming up to intersections, ensuring you aren’t sending false messages.
  5. Never come between a car and its off ramp. How many times have you seen a vehicle suddenly cross over to a highway off-ramp at the last second because the driver wasn’t paying attention? When approaching off ramps, it’s best to be in the left lane or, at least, ensure there aren’t any vehicles to your left.

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other drivers, but it’s up to everyone to be motorcycle aware on the roads. Do you live for the ride? If so, ride to live, and share your concerns with friends who drive cars and trucks. Seeing the face behind the visor can help get the message across.

Question: What’s your favourite place in BC to cruise your motorcycle?

 

Tags: , , , ,

32 Responses to 10 Motorcycle Safety Tips to Keep You on the Road

  1. veronica hugh on May 21, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Wearing the Quality helmet is the most thing as it, not only saves you from the wind but also saves your head in event of any crash. Secondly, the important thing is to wear a nice protective jacket with some padding and cushioning that will saves your skin from burning and rashing.

  2. Farsal on August 27, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Beginners, those who are still learning to drive, and especially those who have just learned to drive, are the most aggressive drivers. However, it must be noted that motorcycle driving could be a complex process of coordinating your balance, processing what you see, being able to decide what to do, and act accordingly.

    • tranbceditor on August 27, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Thanks for your observations Farsal, about motorcycle riding.

  3. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month - ePACT on August 25, 2017 at 8:34 am

    […] These stats serve as an important reminder that motorcyclists need to wear helmets at all times and take extra caution when on the road. If you or somebody you know drives a motorcycle, be sure to spread the message. For motorcycle safety tips, visit the BC Ministry of Transportation website. […]

  4. Clive Edwards on February 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I have ridden motorcycles for over forty years. The most vulnerable I have ever felt was on a 250 cc bike, because while it might get good gas mileage, it sometimes doesn’t have the acceleration to get you out of danger in time.

    I have survived (even dumping a few times due to other drivers, but usually in combination with bad road conditions)because I assume all drivers on the road are deaf, dumb and blind unless I can make eye contact with them. Even that is not a guarantee.

    Because I learned to drive on motorcycles I acquired great defensive driving skills through experience that carried over into driving cars and trucks. Knowing the limits of both your vehicle and your current skill level, plus and extenuating circumstances such as tiredness, hunger and distractions is very important. Without that you are not equipped to deal with other drivers, let alone road conditions.

    And loud pipes? I can do without them – that’s what the horn is for. Personally, I find full face helmets are more dangerous than either “skid lids” or riding without helmets. I usually complied with the current laws, but there was a brief time in the late sixties or seventies when the helmet law was challenged in BC and the law was suspended for several months. I enjoyed the freedom of choice. It’s like seatbelts – I am old enough to have driven before mandatory seatbelt use laws came in, but after seatbelts were mandatory to be install in new vehicles. I would usually use them (my friends thought that strange – the thought I was purposefully going to drive recklessly and took it as a sign that they perhaps shouldn’t be in the car with me. Seatbelts don’t usually negatively impact one’s ability to drive, unlike full face helmets. With the limits full face helmets place on hearing and vision they should be optional.

  5. john Mahoney on December 9, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I like when you said that the number one concern you should have when using your motorcycles is safety. I agree that being safe is the most important thing to remember while handling heavy machines. I will keep this in mind as I take my toys out and have fun. Thank you for the tips.

    • tranbceditor on December 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Glad to hear you liked this John. Safe and happy travels.

  6. Frank Mann on May 11, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Victoria City Police,members of IRSU and West Shore RCMP all agree that,until the laws regarding motorcycle noise level standards are re-written, they can not and will not enforce this unsupportable (in court) motor vehicle law.

    I assume that since it has only been close to 5 years since the request to re- write the applicable laws has been on the books,we should not get our hopes up.

    • tranbceditor on May 13, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for your comment. We have sent your question to the CVSE for review. Stay tuned.

    • tranbceditor on August 9, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for your comment regarding the enforcement of loud vehicles under section 7A.01 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations and our apologies for the delay in getting this response to you.

      Under the Police Act (BC), the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General must ensure that an adequate and effective level of policing and law enforcement is maintained throughout British Columbia. Further, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General is responsible for setting the objectives, priorities and goals of the Provincial Police Service as represented by the RCMP. While the province can set broad priorities and standards for police agencies, operational deployment of provincial police services falls within the internal management and control of the RCMP. Individual investigations and enforcement decisions occur at arm’s length from government and we cannot interfere with or direct police on such matters.

      Should you wish to write further with your concerns around police enforcement of section 7A.01 of the MVAR in West Shore, please contact the BC RCMP, as follows:

      West Shore RCMP
      698 Atkins Road
      Victoria, British Columbia
      V9B 3A4

      A violation ticket issued under section 7A.01 is based on a police officer’s subjective judgment and does not require an objective standard based on a sound measurement device. Please be advised that the Enforcement Sub-Committee of the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee (BCACP TSC) has developed a ‘best practices’ approach to address loud exhaust enforcement, particularly regarding loud motorcycles, based on the successful enforcement strategy used by the Vancouver Police Department. This police reference tool is available to all police officers in British Columbia.

      We hope that this helps!

  7. John Demarco on December 4, 2015 at 12:57 am

    If you are getting frustrated with the way your bike behaves in low speed manoeuvres it could be worthwhile checking your tyres.

  8. Frank Mann on March 31, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Virtually 2 full years (8 May,2013) have passed since being advised that procedures and changes were being studied that would lessen the volume of noise from motorcycles. Certainly there should have been some progress announced by the responsible agency tasked with this matter. What is totally surprising is that no policing organizations have dealt with offenders who have REMOVED their mufflers entirely. Local motorcycle technicians indicate that approximately 20% of Harley purchasers remove their mufflers at time of purchase or shortly after. West Shore RCMP have indicated they are aware of cyclists who are responsible for the noise but as long as patrols are conducted with vehicle windows closed, it is doubtful any changes will occur.

    • tranbceditor on April 7, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Frank,
      Thanks for the comment. We continue to work with enforcement agencies on best enforcement practices, training and education. The existing legislation allows for several enforcement options that police may use for both excessive noise or vehicles that fail to meet standards.

      • Frank Mann on August 11, 2015 at 2:31 pm

        Enough already! The Magna Carta and the 10 Commandents were discussed and printed in less time. You refer to existing legislation that should address these issues but, until someone with authority within your ministry provides some related direction, there will never be improvements to our quality of life. This, in turn, leads to a definite lack of credibility within your ministry.

        As an example, since Passing Lanelegislation was enacted, there has been absolutely no changes to drivers behaviour on the Island highway. I’m not looking for the typical sugar -coated reply, just one that has some positive information that changes are coming.

        • tranbceditor on August 12, 2015 at 10:01 am

          Hi Frank,

          We are sorry for your frustration, we will certainly keep you informed should any new information arise.

  9. Ian Evans on December 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    This all happened two months after I began riding. Two months after buying my bike. A week later, the same thing. As I coasted into the five lanes converging on Gaglardi at Loughheed, the idiot slightly ahead on my right began pulling into my lane on a wet road. This time, my familiarity with the horn, and the front and rear brake had come, (that’s the learning curve with any new bike) and avoiding a crash with a honk, I fishtailed the big bike to avoid him. 40 years ago I had at least two similar life threatening scenario’s on a bike in Calgary, but spaced over a year. I’ve only had my bike now for 2 months!

    • tranbceditor on December 22, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks for sharing your recent motorcycling experiences, Ian. They reinforce how important it is for drivers to be fully aware of their surroundings before changing lanes – especially in heavy traffic and poor conditions.

  10. Ian Evans on December 22, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    The driver was found 100% liable and my bike ‘crash bars’, are to be replaced. I cannot overstate the protection those crash bars gave me. Not only was my foot caught in the pedals but the bike and I slid, all 1/4 Ton of it with me underneath for 15 feet. Not only did I escape with just a road rash as opposed to a crushed and burned leg, the whole weight of the bike pivoted on that one corner of the crash bar. Not even the mirror’s were touched.

  11. Ian Evans on December 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I bought my first motorcycle, a cruiser two months ago. Having rode one, for a year 40 years ago, I never got over the thrill now at 66. It all comes down to the number of cars on the road which has increased dramatically over that time, and the technology governing urban rush hours which here in Vancouver are starting to fill up any time of the day, coming to a complete stop. All four lanes on the 12 billion dollar just built highway every morning now are gridlock. Within 2 months of acquiring my new cruiser bike I ran into my first idiot driver and with the saturate streets there is one in every 10. Sat on her cellphone, moving intermittently down the shoulder of the road, through the ‘one stop sign’, intersection she chose just that instant as I passed along side to pull out. With on-coming traffic and no-where to go I had to dump it and hope for the best. Never ever, ride in a car’s blind spot. Rev your engine to let them know you’re there. Assume if you find yourself there, they will pull into your lane. Your life depends on it, if you are a motorcyclist. And don’t count on the law, I.C.B.C., or anyone else but yourself to protect your rights and you, on a bike. The Times they are a-changing.

  12. StormRider on May 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I have often wondered just what happened to the old “May is Motorcycle Awareness month”. Over the past few years there has been less and less activity related to motorcycle safety by the government and local law enforcement. I have campaigned for many years for motorcycle safety and am always looking for improved ways to support motorcycle safety both with motorcycle riders and other drivers.

    There seems to be a real lack of public participation on the part of ICBC, Government and local law enforcement to bring the message to the public each year.

    I would be interested to hear from you as to whether there is still a public campaign for motorcycle safety and whether you need any assitence.

    • tranbceditor on May 12, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Hi StormRider,

      Yes, May is still Motorcycle Awareness Month in BC – although you are right, there does seem to be less activity in this campaign of late. We searched the ICBC site for a current campaign, and found that there were a number of links to information about motorcycle safety but no current campaign. We are always looking for ways to promote road safety and would love to talk with you about ways we can better promote motorcycle safety on BC Highways.

  13. StormRider on May 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    It’s an old argument (even between motorcycle riders) whether “Loud Pipes Save Lives”. To my knowledge there is no scientific evidence which supports the old saying.

    That said, the original article has some great pointers for both motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers. We could all use a dose of cooperation to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the road this season.

    Lets all try to get along on the road this season and show everyone that it CAN be a safe summer for everyone this season.
    And if you have a constructive idea to contribute, you input is welcome.

  14. Frank Mann on May 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Although I support all highway safety initiatives, I find it extremely difficult to understand why the Ministry does not insist that motorcyclists follow the basic rules of Motor Vehicle laws. Motorcyclists seem to believe that operating their cycles without mufflers is their right. In addition to the vast majority who operate at unsafe speeds ( weekend of 4/5 May is an indication) it is obvious that neither municipalities nor provincial police forces seem inclined to enforce any motorcycle infractions.

    Why should BC citizens tolerate the continual high decibel noise during the warm weather season? As displayed by IRSU on Vacouver Island this weekend, RCMP seemed intimidated during their roadside inspections., I request that TranBC commits the same initiative to citizen’s quality of life as they do to advising auto drivers to be aware of motorcycles.

    • tranbceditor on May 8, 2013 at 8:33 am

      There is an active, combined working group within the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Justice addressing these concerns. The BC Association of Chiefs of Police have put forward a motion regarding possible regulation changes and adoption of an SAE road side testing protocol. Currently there are enforcement options under two relevant sections of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations: Excessive Noise 7A.01 of the Regulations and under Division 7 of the Regulations there are standards related to mufflers.

      Inspection can also be required with use of a notice and order. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has reviewed the technical material, the SAE standard and testing protocol, surveyed other jurisdictions regarding existing legislation and protocols for all types of vehicle noise and have begun to engage the public regarding their understanding and perceptions of the issue. We are also working closely with industry (the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council). Once the consultative phase has been completed, we will evaluate the material and consider next steps. We continue to reach out to educate both riders and motorists on motorcycle safety and awareness and recognize that the vast majority of riders are safety conscious and responsible operators.

      Hope that this information helps, and if you want to stay up to date on ministry activities, remember you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and here on TranBC. Thanks Frank!

    • Anonymous on April 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      It is obvious that you have never been on a motorcycle before. It is actually safer for a rider if cars can hear them coming, if people would just treat motorcycle’s with the same respect as automobiles it would be safer for everyone on the roads.

      • Anonymous on April 17, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Obviously you do not ride a motorcycle. Sitting in a cage with the radio on is no different than an ambulance approaching you or coming up from behind you. You do not hear the sirens until they are almost on top of you.It is no different than loud pipes. It is a proven that loud pipes only hurt the ears of the motorcyclist.

        • Charles on April 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm

          That’s why some wear ear plugs! the noise is a real turn off, especially when they return from a ride at night waking up the neighbourhood. why do otherwise respectable people become jerks when they saddle a motorcycle?

          • Tyler on April 10, 2015 at 11:51 am

            The ear plugs are not for exhaust noise, they’re for wind noise that they get at highway speeds.

      • Charles on April 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

        Then I should remove the muffler on my car to be safer?

      • Charles on April 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm

        Respect is a two way street, cut the noise & the pollution, many motorcycles stink more than a Brigg & Stratton lawnmower!

        • Kate on April 10, 2015 at 1:28 pm

          What about all the loud sterios ?? I ca t sit at a light in my car without having my music drowned out by some youths choice of music.
          He obsiously would not be aware of a bike nearby .
          And as far as pollution ?? Give me a break ! I get 500 km on one little tank of gas on my bike

        • Ian on April 16, 2015 at 9:05 am

          Hi Frank. I’ve ridden motorcycles and cycled in Ontario most of my life. I work for a mining company where safety is EVERYTHING! While I don’t completely agree with open pipes, I don’t believe your statements should be taken seriously until you’ve ridden a motorcycle and been cut off even once (and survived!). Being seen and heard as opposed to just seen (situational awareness seems to be optional for most motorists! I have MANY gopro videos to attest to this..) makes a massive difference and absolutely HAS saved my life on my motorcycle on several occasions. Good luck pushing authorities on this. Most of them drive motorcycles and whether they admit it or not publicly, they do understand most of our safety concerns and our vulnerability on motorcycles. Thanks, Ian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.