Steve McDowall offers these safe riding tips for the holidays.
It’s Christmas and a time where we all get to relax, spend time with the people who are precious to us and have some fun.
But unfortunately, it’s also a time when things tend to get a bit worse on our roads, and crashes, injuries and fatalities can increase.
Someone asked me the other day – “If you were to give three pieces of advice to help motorcyclists stay safe over Christmas, what would they be?”
Good question, and I had to think for a moment – not because I couldn’t come up with anything but I had to pick the three that I felt would have the most impact.
The three pieces of advice I’d give to riders over the Christmas period would be:
- Make sure the bike’s good,
- make sure the rider’s good,
- and be alert.
Check that the bike is in a good roadworthy condition. Some of us like to go for much longer rides over the holiday season, even stay away trips. So give the bike a good thorough check over before you go, especially tyres.
And if you are carrying luggage on the bike, don’t overload it either. Remember anything strapped to the bike will change its handling characteristics.
Secondly, make sure the rider is all good. As a society we tend to eat, drink and be merry a bit more over the Christmas season. Whilst I’m not suggesting you should miss out on all the fun, it is important to remember that if you are tired, feeling sick, have any drugs or alcohol in your system or caught up in the excitement of the moment, your observation skills, reaction times and ability to control the bike will all be affected.
Unfortunately, no amount of Red Bull, V, or caffeine is going to help in these situations either, they can actually make it worse. The best thing to do is to just have a good rest. And if you’re not feeling on top of your game, leave the bike and consider another option.
And finally, be aware that there are plenty of other people on our roads that may be on top of their game either, or as focussed on your safety as you are.
Being more observant and aware of your surroundings will help to anticipate these people before they create issues for you. One of the things I tell my students is to look at the driver in the car not the outside of the car. That will give you a far better idea of what the driver is looking at and intending to do.
Just to finish, I’d like to wish all our readers and listeners, their families and the fantastic team I work with here at Behind the Wheel a very safe and Merry Christmas. May Santa be kind to you, and may all your wishes come true.