A motorcyclist drives next to a car on a roadway.

Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating, but it also comes with its risks. With traffic congestion, distracted drivers and varying road conditions, motorcyclists face unique challenges. However, by adopting a defensive riding approach, riders can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents and ensure a safer journey. Defensive riding will help you anticipate possible hazards and know the proper actions to take to avoid a crash.

Here are a few tips for defensive riding to help stay safe on busy roads and avoid any accidents.

Remain Aware: The idea behind defensive riding is to assume that other drivers on the road may not see you and that unexpected situations can happen at any moment. Maintaining a high level of awareness is key for defensive riding. As a motorcycle rider, you must constantly scan around you for potential hazards. Make sure you’re checking your rearview mirrors frequently, keeping an eye on any blind spots and looking around for other vehicles at intersections and other road entry points. By being proactive and aware, you can spot potential hazards early and take the appropriate action to avoid them.

Maintain a Safe Following Distance: Maintaining a safe following distance from vehicles in front of you is crucial to your safety. A general rule of thumb is the "two-second rule," where riders stay at least two seconds behind the vehicle ahead. To calculate your following distance time, pick out an object that the vehicle in front of you passes and count how many seconds it takes for you to reach the same object. If there are any adverse weather conditions or heavy traffic, this distance should be increased to allow you for more reaction time in case of a sudden stop.

Try to Anticipate What Other Drivers Will Do: The driving of others on the road can be unpredictable. As a defensive rider, try to develop the ability to anticipate the actions of other vehicles around you. An example is, if a car in the lane next to you is drifting close to the line, they may intend to change lanes without signaling and you’ll need to be ready to react. By being observant and predicting the movements of other drivers, you can take whatever action you need to avoid dangerous situations.

Avoid Blind Spots: Since motorcycles are smaller and less visible than most other vehicles on the road, many drivers don’t notice them, especially in blind spots. As a defensive rider, you must be extremely careful when passing vehicles or riding alongside them. Always try to position your motorcycle where you are visible in the driver's mirrors and avoid staying in a car’s blind spot. This will help reduce the chances of an accident.

Ride as Smoothly and Controlled as Possible: Riding erratically with fast acceleration, hard braking or swerving can catch other drivers off guard and lead to accidents. Going over the speed limit also will make it harder for other cars to see and react to you. Smooth riding and gradual adjustments will allow other drivers to anticipate your movements better, making the roads safer for everyone.

Maintain Visibility: Since motorcycles are so hard to see, staying visible at all times is extremely important.  Always use your headlights, even during the day, to increase your visibility on the road. Wearing high-visibility gear, like a reflective jacket or helmets, can make you more noticeable to other drivers and keep you at top of mind.

Defensive riding is an important skill that every rider should practice to stay safe on the road. By maintaining awareness, anticipating the actions of other drivers and taking a proactive approach, you can reduce the risk of a crash and enjoy a safe and more enjoyable ride.

Hupy and Abraham, S.C. has helped motorcyclists for decades by promoting safety and awareness for all riders. The firm’s “Watch for Motorcycles” message helps keep motorcyclists at the top of mind for drivers on the road. The message is spread through TV advertisements, billboards, stickers, events and more.

Sometimes you can do everything in your power to help keep you safe, but the unthinkable still can happen. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, call Hupy and Abraham right away at 800-800-5678 so we can start working to get you all the money you deserve for your injury. We’ve helped over 70,000 people receive more than $1 billion for their injuries.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.