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Sharing the road

There are three important ways motorcyclists can safely share the road with other vehicles:

  • Being seen – don’t assume other drivers or riders can see you.
  • Scanning and planning – scan regularly without focusing on any one spot too long.
  • Keeping your distance – the best protection you can have is space between yourself and others.

Be seen by other road users

A large proportion of motorcycle crashes in urban areas involve other vehicles. For your safety, you need to ensure that you are always seen.

  • Always have low beam headlights on during the day.
  • Wear bright coloured protective clothing, or at least contrasting colours (e.g. black and white, and a reflective vest at night.)
  • Always be aware of how your visibility to others will be affected by the lane you are in and your position within it.
  • Move within your lane when coming up to junctions to be in the safest position if someone suddenly pulls out.
  • Parked cars can obstruct other drivers’ view of motorcycles when approaching junctions, so adopt a lane position that gives you clear space from them.
  • Be aware of drivers or riders ‘blind spots’.
  • Try to make sure that you can see the driver or riders face in their wing mirror or rear-view mirror.
  • Slowing down when approaching junctions or other areas of manoeuvring traffic gives you a better chance of being seen and more time for all drivers to plan their actions.

Scan your surroundings while riding

Always be aware of potential hazards and scan regularly without focusing on any one spot too long.

  • Scan ahead so you know what junctions or other traffic situations are coming up.
  • Use your height advantage to look over or through vehicles ahead to see what’s happening.
  • Be aware of vehicles immediately around you and what you think they might do.
  • Use your mirrors frequently to check behind you, especially if you are about to manoeuvre.
  • Do a head check to make sure there is nothing sitting in your blind spot.
  • Scan the road itself for hazards such as oil, slippery road markings, twigs and debris, gravel or potholes.

Keep a safe distance

The best protection you can have is space between yourself and others.

Space in front

Under normal conditions, a three second buffer zone between yourself and the next vehicle:
  • Gives you enough time to react in an emergency;
  • Gives you a better view of the road surface; and
  • Allows other drivers to see you.

In wet conditions, extend the buffer zone to five seconds or more to give you additional stopping time.

At the side

Moving from one side of your lane to the other will allow you to maintain your buffer zone at the side when:
  • You are being overtaken by other vehicles
  • You are passing a line of parked car
  • A truck is approaching, possibly creating hazardous wind gusts.

Space behind

If a driver is tailgating your motorcycle, increase your distance from the car in front to give you additional stopping time. Alternatively, change lanes or slow down and allow the tailgater to overtake.

Choose the right motorcycle

  • Talk to experienced riders, chat to knowledgeable staff in showrooms and check out as many websites as you can before choose something that could prove to be unsuitable.
  • Think about what sort of motorcycle you want and what would best suit your needs, whether it’s for touring at weekends, everyday commuting, trips to the beach or a sports model.
  • Be realistic about your size, weight, and strength – these are important considerations, as you will need to be able to manoeuvre quickly, efficiently, and confidently.
  • If upgrading to a more powerful bike after gaining your ‘R’ licence, take time to practise, as the handling is very different from smaller motorcycles.