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How to Safely Ride a Motorcycle in Heavy Traffic

By Edited Dec 27, 2013 0 1

For as many times as someone may say that they will maintain a high level of safety when they purchase a new motorcycle, unfortunately, this occurrence isn't always the case. With many young purchasers, the very nature of the motorcycle has historically produced an unimpeded sense of excitement and thrill. As pure adrenaline rushes, and is very difficult to suppress, oftentimes it is really quite difficult for one to maintain clear logic and thinking patterns regarding the high level of danger associated with the task of motorcycle riding.

If you feel this, it is natural. You are not alone.

Driving in traffic, unlike driving on a less-chaotic back country road, presents its own unique set of circumstances that must be fully understood in order to maintain safety. Whether you have just purchased and assumed ownership of a new motorcycle, or you having been driving a motorcycle for years, everyone can benefit from reading this InfoBarrel article.

Things You Will Need

  • a Motorcycle
  • a GPS (with Traffic Update Functionality)
  • Federally Approved Motorcycle Helmets
  • Eye Protection

Step 1

With the advent of new technologies, rarely is there a time where you will be unable to plan traffic into your motorcycle riding trip. From online resources, to convenient GPS technologies (with traffic updates) and radio station highway updates, the level of safety that you will obtain will be directly related to how much pre-thought and pre-planning you put into your trip. Before you even leave your front door, a wise motorcycle driver will have a solid foundational understanding of their route, traffic tendencies, as well as, an other issues or situations that could contribute to a heightened safety awareness.

At no time will you be expected to know everything, however, safety can be greatly aided when you know and understand what you are getting into before you actually get there. Route familiarity can be a great benefit of driving to the same place of employment each and every day, however, some motorcycle riders may not have the luxury of immediately knowing what to anticipate and expect.

Step 2

As a part of the planning phase of motorcycle riding through traffic, it is important that you always prepare for the worst. While we would all love to believe that others could never be possible of making a stupid decision that harms us, it only takes a momentary lapse in judgment for a car driver to cross into your lane and make you another statistic. Beginning with equipment, there are certain fundamental pieces of protective gear and equipment that a motorcycle rider should have, to include: motorcycle gloves, a federally approved motorcycle helmet, and eye protection. At a minimum, these items should be worn before you leave your house on your next motorcycle riding trip.

While it may be easy for a carefree individual to believe that these items won't directly impact their safety, it is important to realize that these items alone have made the difference between an accident that was fatal and an accident that wasn't fatal. In order to inspire more proactive safety considerations, pictures of fatalities will prove the value of taking these measures. Unfortunately, it isn't typically until it is too late when some motorcycle drivers decide to do these things.

Step 3

After you have considered your equipment, and have a firm understanding of your route and the situation, it is important that you continually stay conscious of your placement on the road. While car drivers will have the added safety buffer of being entirely engulfed by the wall paneling of their vehicles, that sense of security doesn't always exist to that extent with motorcycle drivers. Because of the comfort that accommodates the monotony of driving behind a car's wheel, vehicle drivers can quickly become careless, especially during times of heavy traffic. For them, a slowed pace may translate into a great opportunity to text or become pre-occupied by some other activity. You must be knowledgeable and aware of, not just the situation, but also the natural tendencies of other drivers.

Step 4

Because of the generally compact nature of a motorcycle, it is important that a motorcycle rider always assume that they cannot be seen by other vehicle drivers. In order to aid in your own safety, you have no other choice but than to anticipate what others may or may not do. On top of that, you must also continually assess each unique situation and determine what you can do in order to make yourself more visible. From staying near the center of the lane, to knowingly placing yourself outside of a driver's blind spot, these actions can greatly increase your safety and survivability while driving in heavy traffic on a highway.

Step 5

While a prevailing sense of urgency (and/or impatience) may cause a motorcycle rider to swerve in-and-out of a lane, this action should be avoided at all costs. Even if you are running late, you can't always expect vehicle drivers to understand what is going on if you are constantly trying to get beyond the traffic by swerving in and out of each lane. Even though this may work for you, it only takes one lapse in judgment (on your part or the vehicle driver's part) for safety to be thrown completely out the window.
For as much as we would all love to 'just have fun' on our motorcycles, it is imperative for all motorcycle drivers to take the proactive measures necessary in order to ensure safety. From proper equipment selection, to route planning and traffic analysis, to putting yourself in the shoes of a vehicle driver, when all these things are done in conjunction you will find that you will greatly increase your likelihood of avoiding an accident. In the unfortunate event that an accident does occur, proper equipment could greatly reduce the amount of physical trauma experienced from an accident.

Tips & Warnings

With a motorcycle being small in comparison to other vehicles, as well as the general size of a highway lane, you can greatly increase your motorcycle safety in heavy traffic by simply favoring the middle dividing line. Staying towards the center of the lane, while closer to traffic, will give those vehicle drivers around you an immediate sense of caution that they may not have had had you been further to the outside of your lane. If you give other drivers the impression that you don't need your entire lane, you can rest assured that they will attempt to share it with you eventually.


Nov 20, 2010 7:02am
These are great points. I have ridden motorcycles for 25 years and see some really stupid things that drivers and other riders do. Your suggestions for not changing lanes often and taking command of the lane you are in are fundamental that many riders miss.
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