Established in the 1980s, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is observed annually in May. The timing is perfect as thousands of bikers take advantage of warmer temperatures and sunny weather to hit the open road. Whether you’re one of 72,360 Canadians who bought a new motorcycle in 2021 or have owned your bike for years, take some time to refresh your skills this spring and prepare to stay safe as you ride.
Follow Driving Laws
Review the rules of the road in your province and wherever you plan to ride across Canada.
While some driving laws will differ across the country, basic rules include:
- Following posted speed limits.
- Obeying traffic signs.
- Turning on your headlight.
- Using your turn signals.
Likewise, stay in your lane, avoid driving erratically, and share the road.
Become More Visible
Motorcycles of any size can be tricky for other drivers to see. So, whether you ride during the day, night, sun, or rain, make sure your bike is visible.
Before your go out for your first ride, apply reflective strips or tape liberally, especially if your bike is black. Then, always switch on your headlight, use your turn signals before you change lanes or make turns, and disengage your non-cancelling signal. You should also try to stay out of blind spots and drive in the centre or to the left of the lane. You can also honk your horn or flash your brake lights if necessary.
Driving while tired can have tragic results, just like driving when impaired by alcohol or drugs. Always make sure you get plenty of rest before your ride and pull over if you start to feel drowsy.
Be aware that May is a popular month for road trips, so look out for extra traffic. Maintain a safe following distance, check your mirrors and blind spots frequently, and plan your lane position and speed before navigating curves. You can also anticipate the behaviour of other drivers and prepare defensive moves.
Perform Regular Maintenance Checks
After removing your bike from winter storage, give it a thorough maintenance check. Inspect, change, and/or replace the following systems:
- Battery and charging system
- Motor oil and filter
- Fuel system and air cleaner
- Brakes and controls
- Tire pressure and tread
- Suspension and frame
- Signals and switches
An experienced motorcycle mechanic can ensure your bike is in excellent working condition. Then, you can perform pre-trip inspections throughout the riding season.
Wear Protective Gear
Proper clothing improves your comfort, protects your body, and helps other drivers see you clearly. Therefore, follow the ATGATT guideline and wear All the Gear All the Time.
Start by wearing an approved and properly fitted helmet during every ride. Next, don shatterproof goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from debris and improve your visibility. Gloves protect your hands from the elements and improve your grip. A jacket, pants, and boots provide complete protection from the elements, burns, or impact and may improve your riding posture. Finally, add reflective tape to your clothing to ensure other drivers see you during inclement weather or after dark.
Refresh Your Riding Skills
Tune your bike and your driving skills to ensure you can safely and confidently handle your bike after the long winter break.
In your driveway or an empty parking lot, review safe riding habits like balance, handling, quick swerves, turning, cornering, traction control in various conditions and speeds, traffic laws, emergency techniques, and hand signals. Then, practice on the road during low traffic and in various weather conditions.
You could also enroll in Gearing Up, Canada’s national motorcycle rider training program. As a bonus, you might qualify for a motorcycle insurance discount after you pass a safety refresher course.
Train Your Passengers
Only carry a passenger if you’re an experienced driver and teach your passenger how to ride safely.
Always insist that your passenger follows the ATGATT policy. Next, provide solid and properly placed foot pegs or footboards that promote comfort and give you adequate space. Now, take a test drive so you and your passenger can practice turns, swerves, and other procedures. Finally, ensure your passenger feels comfortable and safe riding with you.
Make sure you have the right coverage
Before the season begins, make sure you have the right motorcycle insurance coverage. Whether you’re a seasoned rider, or new to the lifestyle, Wayfarer Insurance can help.