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Riding Tips from the MSF

Thanks to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for the following tips!


Below are some riding tips and considerations that should be taken into account by motorcyclists. Although these practices may be appropriate for riders of any age, they are particularly valuable for riders who are reaching their more mature years. (These tips were written for street riders but apply to dirt riding as well.)

Riding Tips

1. Keep a greater following distance, perhaps three seconds or more. Some authorities recommend up to a six-second interval.

2. Avoid complicated and congested roads and intersections. “Input overload” is a phrase often used to describe the presence of too much information to be able to process accurately. A good choice is to pick a route that contains less complicated roadways with less traffic flow and fewer turns.

3. Allow larger gaps when moving into a stream of traffic. Selecting a safe gap when passing another vehicle or crossing or turning at an intersection is an important decision for smoothly blending with others.

4. Make a point to check side-to-side at intersections. It is a wise motorcyclist that recognizes that eye movement and muscle movement (head and neck muscles in particular) become more difficult with age. A rider should take an extra moment to double-check cross traffic to get a good look.

5. Keep making good blind-spot checks. Traffic research shows that older drivers don’t check blind spots as well as younger drivers. An extra moment to ensure nothing is hiding in a blind spot may help reduce risk.

6. Have a passenger help you S.E.E. Passengers can be an additional set of eyes to help identify hazards and assess risk.

7. Keep windshield, helmet face shield and eyeglass lenses clean. Dirt and grime on a rider’s “window to the world” may adversely affect quick and accurate perception of factors such as traffic control devices, road markings, debris and other traffic movement.

8. Avoid tinted lenses at night. Any tint lessens the light available to the eyes and makes seeing well at night more difficult.

9. Wear sunglasses when glare is a problem. During daytime glare, good polarized sunglasses may reduce the effects of glare significantly and make identifying a traffic hazard easier.

10. Adjust mirrors to avoid glare from following vehicles. Sometimes a slight mirror adjustment may reduce the distracting effects of traffic behind you and still provide the perception necessary to identify hazards to the rear.

11. Keep the headlight(s) clean and properly adjusted. During routine maintenance, be sure the headlight is aimed correctly. Refer to your owner’s manual for adjustment information.

12. Avoid glasses with wide frames or heavy temples. Eyeglasses or sunglasses may be constructed in a way that creates a blind spot. Be sure the frames do not inhibit side vision or create difficulty in seeing the entire field of vision.

13. Avoid being in a hurry. It is unwise to make up for lost time by riding aggressively. Leaving a little early will result in a more relaxed, enjoyable ride and create an opportunity for choosing greater time and space safety margins.

14. Remember that the average age of the driving population is increasing, and you are sharing the road with others who may be experiencing the effects of aging on their operation of a motor vehicle. Keeping a greater safety margin is a wise choice.