Motorbike accidents and fatalities remain a major cause for concern on South Africa’s roads. Hein Jonker, Founder and Chief Instructor of the Motorcycle Safety Institute of South Africa, recently indicated that from 1 August 2017 to 31 August 2018, there have been 726 motorcycle reported accidents, in which there were 187 motorcyclist fatalities. In 72% of these accidents, other vehicles were involved.
“Most of the crashes happen in urban areas where there is a huge congestion of risk factors such as other vehicles, pedestrians and road surface issues,” says Jonker.
According to the Automobile Association (AA), the four main causes of motorcycle accidents are speeding, right of way violations, loss of control when taking bends and corners, and judgement errors.
Motorcycles are the most vulnerable on the road and there is a need for increased vigilance for motorcyclists, pedestrians and motorists. Safety tips for both motorcyclists and motorists are available to ensure the safety of everyone on the road:
- Be aware of No-Go Zones: Trucks have large No-Zones on both sides, the front and behind the truck. Truck drivers cannot see you when you ride in these blind spots and this is particularly dangerous if you need to stop quickly.
- Know your bike: Before taking your bike out on the road, you need to make sure that you familiar with and well in control of your bike’s features, capabilities and limitations.
- Buy protective gear: invest in quality protective gear and remember the golden rule of ATGATT: All The Gear, All The Time. If you prefer darker clothing, add something bright to your outfit, or purchase neon apparel sold by many motorcycle companies. It’s important that you can always be seen by other road-users.The right pair of gloves is also essential.
- Watch your riding: Keep a safe following distance. By maintaining a safe following distance, you will have sufficient room and time to react should other vehicles make unpredictable and unsafe manoeuvres. Always look and plan ahead for hazardous objects.
- Avoid habitual errors: the AA highlights three bad habits that motorcyclists should look out for:
- Overconfidence – no matter how experienced you are, there is always room to improve. Even the most seasoned riders can make common mistakes.
- Attitude – destructive influences like peer pressure or intoxication can lead to making fatal decisions.
- Ignorance – continuously improve your riding by training under the guidance of expert professionals and learning from more experienced riders.
- Don’t ride tired: A study in the U.S. found that driving fatigued is as dangerous as driving under the influence. If you are travelling a long distance, stop every 120km to 200km. Each rider knows his/her own tolerance and may be tempted to push it. Rather stay on the safe side and make those regular stops.
- Stolen vehicle recovery for your bike: It is a good idea to invest in a stolen vehicle recovery solution for your motorcycle, and not just for your vehicle. Beame is small and wireless, which means that it can be easily hidden in any sized motorbike. With the theft of motorcycles on the rise, you never know when may need a 24/7/365 dedicated team behind you that will recover your motorbike, anytime, anywhere.
- Size matters: too many motorists who have hit and injured a motorcyclist claim that the motorcycle “came out of nowhere.” Because of its small size, a motorbike can be easily concealed in a car’s blind spots. Take an extra moment to look for motorbikes, when you are changing lanes or turning at intersections.
- Give it space: motorists should keep a safe following distance and allow approximately four seconds between themselves and a motorbike. Advances in braking systems allow some motorcycles to stop very quickly – making a four-second ‘safety cushion’ a must.
- Shift-braking: motorcyclists often slow by downshifting, not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
- Don’t trust the indicator: the indicators on most motorcycles are not self-cancelling and some riders, especially inexperienced ones, may sometimes forget to turn them off. Motorists are encouraged to make absolutely sure that a biker is intent on turning before crossing his/her path.
- Biker moves: motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily, avoid road debris and minimise the effect of passing vehicles and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to show off or be reckless, and allow them space to move.
Keeping these safety tips in mind the next time you are on your bike, and ensuring that you are covered with a stolen vehicle recovery solution, will ensure that you have done everything from your side to ensure that you reach your destination safely.