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  Motorcycle Safety on Our Roadways

May 21, 2009 07:52 ET

With the nice weather finally arriving, motorcyclists are eager to get their bikes tuned and on the road. The Durham Regional Police Service wants to make sure you and your bike are road ready, offering some important tips for motorcyclists to consider before you start your engines.

Vehicle Checks

If your bike has been idle all winter, you’ll want to check the tires and wheels thoroughly, ensuring the tire pressure is correct. Tires must be DOT or otherwise approved with the appropriate tread depth and free of cuts, snags, bulges or knots.

Motorcycles are required to have two (front and rear) brakes. The hydraulic hose attached to it must be free of damage and leaks and the brake fluid reservoir cannot be below the minimum level.

Mufflers must be in good working order and produce no excessive noise or smoke.

Plates must be visible with the appropriate validation affixed in the top right corner. As well, you must always keep your driver’s licence, permit for the vehicle and proof of insurance in case you are stopped by police.

And like any vehicle, changing your engine oil and checking your fuel levels prior to riding your bike for the first time is important, before you find yourself stuck on the side of the road.

Equipment

Simply put, helmets save lives. An approved helmet (Snell, CSA, BSI, DOT) is the most important piece of equipment for your own personal safety and is required for motorcyclists in Ontario.

Helmets should be undamaged with a hard, smooth shell and chin strap. Failure to wear an approved helmet is a violation of the Highway Traffic Act and will result in a fine.

Riders should wear high-quality riding gear, such as a jacket with shoulder and elbow padding, leather gloves, leather pants and boots to help protect skin in the event of a fall or collision.


See and Be Seen

There are far more cars and trucks on the road than motorcycles and you can’t assume that everyone can see you. Approaching intersections slowly, checking over your shoulder and leaving space around your motorcycle are a few safe practices to help avoid collisions.

Motorcycles are sometimes difficult for other drivers to see. Wearing bright colours or reflective clothing will help make yourself more visible to others on the road.

With the exception of bikes made before 1970, riders must always drive with the headlight and rear light on. Making sure not only these lights are working, but also ensuring your turn indicators and break lights are in proper working order is essential for optimal visibility. If your motorcycle doesn’t have turn indicators, you must use hand signals.


Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

As with any vehicle, driving while intoxicated or even with a blood alcohol level below the legal limit can affect your driving and your judgement. You should avoid alcohol before riding altogether to avoid an increased risk of a collision.

Drugs can also be responsible for negatively affecting your driving ability. Even prescription medication could have side effects that you are unaware of prior to taking them. Be aware of any drug reactions you might have before you take your bike on the road.


Drive Safe!

Speeding and the loss of control is responsible for over half of motorcycle accidents. Pay attention to road signs and weather and road conditions and drive accordingly.

Look as far down the road as possible, making sure to avoid hazards like puddles, bumps and potholes.

As always, practice makes perfect. Take the time to sharpen your skills and practice emergency manoeuvres like emergency braking, swerving and smooth throttle operation in a vacant area. Taking a motorcycle course is also a great idea as it is not only informative, but many insurance companies will offer discounts to people who have obtained training from a recognized program.


In 2005, 697 motorcyclists were killed in Canada. Make sure you’re being as cautious and safe as you can be to avoid collisions. Follow the information you’ve just read and you’ll be on your way to having a safe, enjoyable riding season. We've had three very serious motorcycle collisions in recent weeks in Durham Region.

For more information on motorcycle safety, please visit the Ministry of Transportation website.

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