Bikers face hazards during the holidays

Motorcycles become more dangerous to ride during the holiday season.

Stress, drinking and other factors aggravated by the holidays
can filter into almost every facet of people’s lives. It can become
dangerous and even deadly when it is channeled onto the
roadways.
Highway dangers increase for all drivers, but especially for
motorcyclists, said Keith Code, a motorcycle instructor and author
of books on motorcycle riding.
Stress, drinking and other factors aggravated by the holidays can filter into almost every facet of people’s lives. It can become dangerous and even deadly when it is channeled onto the roadways.

Highway dangers increase for all drivers, but especially for motorcyclists, said Keith Code, a motorcycle instructor and author of books on motorcycle riding.

“During the holidays there’s more drinking going on, more partying and people are more distracted (while driving),” said Shirly Turney, Code’s publicist. “There’s added stress to drivers to get around and do things. It really is a dangerous time for every kind of driver.”

With 64 percent of motorcycle fatalities alcohol-related and 50 percent that occur at intersections, motorcyclists and the automobile drivers who could hit them need to use extra precautions during this time, Code said.

Because intersection collisions are very common, motorcyclists should let a car “run interference for you” when approaching an intersection, Code said.

This refers to letting a car go ahead and clear the way, as other drivers who are stopped at intersections are more apt to see a larger automobile than a motorcycle.

“In case somebody’s sitting there and is waiting to make a left-hand turn, they’re more likely to see a car and not make that turn,” Turney said. “That’s how most motorcycles get wiped out.”

If you have the choice to let a car go through the intersection first, ride on the left side of the car rather than the right, Turney said.

If someone at the intersection doesn’t see the car, makes the turn anyway and collides with the car, the motorcyclist will be safer on the right than if they were on the left, she said.

For tight situations where a collision may occur if preventive measures are not quickly taken, Code recommends braking with the front brakes instead of the rear ones.

“Front brakes provide 90 percent of the stopping power,” Code said. “Rear brakes are 20 percent as effective and can enable accidents.”

While motorists are always cautioned to drive defensively, motorcyclists should ride more offensively to stay as visible to other drivers as possible, Code said.

“Assume cars never see bikes because it’s not their job,” he said. “I don’t mean ride illegally, I mean ride aggressively.”

Aggressive maneuvers include speeding up and slowing down and moving back and forth within a lane – all to attract attention, he said.

“Aggressive means you’re moving around,” Turney said, “you’re making a statement that you’re there.”

Knowing the difference between illegal and aggressive is important, and anyone riding a motorcycle should be cognizant of that distinction.

“They shouldn’t be on the road with a motorcycle if they don’t know what’s illegal,” Turney said. “We’ve all seen motorcyclists ride between cars – that’s illegal, that’s stupid.”

Bikers who don brightly colored clothes or loud muffler pipes shouldn’t rely too heavily on those things to make sure cars acknowledge their presence and are aware of them. But they do help a little, Code said.

“There are too many things in the environment that compete with bright clothes, including brightly colored cars,” he said. “But a rider with a brightly colored top and loud pipes who’s moving around in his lane is going to get noticed.”

For more tips on motorcycle riding, visit Code’s Web site at www.superbikeschool.com.

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