Opinion: Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

As we mentioned earlier this week, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Of course, we’re “preaching to the choir” here by talking about motorcycle safety. Presumably, we all have a vested interest in arriving home safe and sound anytime of year we’re able to get out for a ride, but May offers an annual reminder to riders and motorists alike that everyone can help make the roads safer since the weather is warmer and more bikes will be out on the road.

The Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC) promotes an annual campaign that attempts to raise awareness to motorists, but also provides tips on for how motorcyclists can do their part. It’s no surprise that drivers are more distracted than ever, so we have to take our safety into our own hands.

In addition to sharing awareness, the MCC offers a number of suggestions for how to ride safer, namely: continue your training, watch your speed, ride sober and stay alert.

Aside from riding without the use of booze and drugs, improving your skills could be one of the best things you can do. Regardless of whether seat time is spent on a racetrack or in a parking lot, becoming more comfortable with your motorcycle and increasing the swiftness of your reflexes will reduce crucial reaction time.

Personally, I’ve adapted my riding over the years so that I have the best chances of continuing to do so. In my younger years I’d certainly test my luck on the street, but as I’ve gotten older (and arguably wiser), I’ve learned the value of getting my speed thrills on a track. There are many options for lapping days on your own bike, or track programs where you rent. Either way, I never driver slower than I do when I’m on my way home from a long day at the track. Not only is it safer, but it could also save you spending your hard-earned cash on speeding tickets, lawyers, insurance premiums and possibly even the replacement cost of your bike based on recent amendments to “Stunt Driving” legislation.

The best piece of guidance I have ever received, which I often convey to new riders is simply this: “Pretend every car on the road is trying to kill you.” It removes the element of surprise and anger when you already assume that they have the worst of intentions.

As far as training motorists to pay attention to motorcycles, I read another great piece of advice recently. It suggested that when you’re driving in the car with your children, make a game out of counting motorcycles. Not only will it help pass the time on a car ride, but it may very well instill a lifelong habit that could save someone’s life one day.

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