Tips to safely share the road with motorcyclists

King Price Xtreme rider Clint Seller has been riding on 2 wheels since he was 3 years old. Of course, today his superbike is vastly more powerful (and dangerous) than the scooter of way back when. This makes Seller acutely aware of the risks involved in racing and riding a motorbike on the highways and byways of South African roads.

The stats certainly make for grim reading. On the Eastern Cape roads alone, the death toll more than doubled from last year’s figures during the Easter long weekend. Reasons for this ranged from bad driver behaviour, drunken driving, speeding, and fatigue.

There’s no easy way to put it… Our roads have turned into war zones. And it’s especially motorcyclists who are at risk, as many motorists simply aren’t aware of them.

So, what can be done to change this? We sat down with Clint to pick his brain and get his expert advice when it comes to safety tips for both motorists and motorcyclists.

Tips for motorists:

  • Double-check your blind spots: Motorbikes can easily disappear in a vehicle's blind spot. Make a habit of checking your blind spots twice before changing lanes or merging to avoid hitting a motorcyclist. Adjust your mirrors correctly and consider installing blind spot mirrors to provide an even better view.
  • Keep a safe distance: Maintain a safe following distance behind motorbikes, as they can stop more abruptly than cars. This will give you enough time to react if the motorcyclist needs to stop suddenly. In my experience, you should try to keep a distance of approximately 4 seconds before coming to a complete stop.
  • Be vigilant at intersections: Intersections are dangerous for cars and bikes alike. Always check twice before crossing an intersection. Take an extra look just to quickly scan the road for smaller vehicles like motorbikes and cyclists.
  • Use your indicators: Communicate your intentions by using your turn signals, allowing motorcyclists to anticipate your actions and adjust their riding accordingly. Be consistent and give ample notice before making a turn or changing lanes, so others on the road have time to react.
  • Be aware of weather conditions: Rain, fog, and other adverse weather conditions can make it harder to see motorbikes. Adjust your driving by slowing down, turning on your headlights, and giving riders extra space. Remember that wet roads can be slippery for both cars and motorbikes.

Tips for motorcyclists:

  • Be visible: Wear brightly coloured clothing and use reflective materials to increase your visibility. Make sure your headlights are functioning correctly and always use them, even during the day. Position yourself in the lane where you’re most visible to other drivers, avoiding blind spots and staying out of their direct path.
  • Ride defensively: Anticipate potential hazards and be prepared to react. Assume other drivers may not see you and position yourself in the safest place on the road. Stay alert to your surroundings, scanning the road for potential obstacles like potholes, and be ready to take evasive action if necessary.
  • Signal your intentions: Use your turn signals and hand signals to communicate your intentions to other drivers. Clearly indicate your intentions well in advance, giving other drivers time to react to your actions.
  • Wear protective gear: Invest in a high-quality helmet, gloves, boots, and other protective clothing to minimise the risk of injury in case of an accident. Always wear your helmet. Where possible, choose gear with built-in armour or padding for added protection and ensure it fits properly for maximum effectiveness.
  • Take a safety course: Participate in a motorbike safety course to improve your riding skills and learn advanced techniques for handling hazardous situations. Regularly refresh your knowledge and skills, as this will help you stay sharp on the road and equip you to handle challenging situations.