It’s no secret that driving in the winter can get dicey. Winter driving conditions account for approximately half a million crashes each year.
For motorcyclists, who already face more challenges and risks than automobile drivers on a regular basis, winter riding is especially dangerous. If you’re planning on taking your bike out for a ride in harsh, wintry conditions, you’ll need to take extra precautions.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can stay safe while riding a motorcycle in the winter–as long as you know what you’re doing and what to expect.
Read on for eight essential motorcycle driving tips that will keep you safe this winter.
1. New to Motorcycle Riding? Take the Car
If you’re not accustomed to riding a motorcycle in optimal conditions, you shouldn’t go out in inclement weather. If the roads are snowy, wet, or icy, don’t travel by motorcycle. Instead, stay home and if you need to head out for essentials, take your car instead of your motorcycle.
2. Wear the Right Winter Riding Gear
Crashes aren’t the only thing motorcyclists need to worry about in the winter. Low temperatures feel significantly worse when riding at medium and high speeds.
Layering up is the best way to beat the cold. You may want to start with a moisture-wicking layer before adding on thicker, more wind-proof materials. You’re also going to want to grab a full-face helmet, hand warmers, and gloves.
If you start to feel overheated, pull over and throw your outermost layer into your saddlebag. It’s better to head out with too many layers than not enough.
3. Warm Up Your Tires Before Hitting the Road
To give you more traction on roads coated with snow or ice, you’re going to want to warm up your tires before you hit main roads. How you accomplish this may come down to the type of motorcycle you own, but there’s one method that tons of motorcyclists rely on.
If possible, take a few laps around the streets in your neighborhood, where the speed limit is likely 15-25 miles per hour. This will give your tires a chance to heat up before you head out for faster turf.
4. Don’t Slam the Brakes
Just like when you’re operating a car, you shouldn’t slam your brakes when riding a motorcycle on sleek roads. If you try to come to an abrupt hault, you’re going to lose traction, increasing your chances of sliding.
Make sure you’re paying attention to upcoming stop signs, red lights, and traffic backups. Give yourself several yards to come to a slow and steady stop.
5. Keep Extra Distance
Because slamming on the brakes is out of the question, you’re going to want to give other motor vehicles a wider berth. You want to make sure that you have plenty of time to stop when the breaklights in front of you suddenly turn on.
Plus, drivers of all kinds of vehicles tend to be more distracted when the roads are bad. They may be more focused on keeping their own vehicle steady than they are on the people around them. As a motorcyclist, you are often the most vulnerable person on the road, and it is important that you keep your distance from other drivers who may not be keeping an eye out for you.
6. Stay Aware of Your Blind Spots
Many winter weather conditions can obscure your vision while driving. Snow and sleet can cause worsened visibility, especially if your helmet isn’t properly treated to repel water. You may also experience fog or haziness that makes it difficult to see more than a few yards ahead.
Make sure that you know your blind spots before you head out with limited visibility. While driving, take extra precautions to remain aware of your blind spots and avoid changing lanes or making turns without verifying that your path is clear.
7. Know When to Pull Over
Ultimately, it’s up to you to know your own limits. Some winter weather conditions are bad enough that even the most experienced motorcyclists will not ride in them. (For example, if you know that you may be facing black ice, you should not take the risk of riding your motorcycle.)
Sometimes when the weather and road conditions may seem mild enough that you can handle them, you discover that they’re worse than you thought. If you’re worried, pull over and find an area where you can wait out the storm. If this isn’t an option, take things very slow and turn on your hazards so other drivers know that you will not drive the speed limit.
8. Know What to Do In the Event of a Motorcycle Accident
Taking extra precautions can reduce your risk of getting into an accident while riding a motorcycle in the winter. Unfortunately, there are some risks that are always there, especially when your safety is partially in the hands of other drivers.
Make sure you know what to do in the event of a motorcycle accident. Have a list of phone numbers to call, including your local police department, your doctor’s office, and a motorcycle accident lawyer. Remember, even if you feel unscathed after an accident, you should always go to the doctor.
Use These 8 Motorcycle Driving Tips to Stay Safe This Winter
Motorcyclists know that they are at an increased risk, from exposure to the elements to accidents caused by other drivers. It is also crucial to ride a motorcycle with caution. In the winter, these eight motorcycle driving tips can help you lower your risk of getting hurt on the road.
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