Motorcycle Tips: Driving a Motorcycle Safely on Different Surfaces

Our blog explains motorcycle safety tipsMotorcycles are everywhere.  Many people enjoy the feeling of the open road and riding motorcycles. There are a few things that motorcycle drivers can do to decrease the chance of being involved in accidents.  Just riding a motorcycle increases your chances of being in an accident.

Uneven surfaces such as broken pavement, bumps, potholes and debris in the road can create dangerous driving conditions.  Try to avoid these obstacles by slowing down and going around them.  If you cannot go around the obstacle then approach it as close to a 90 degree angle as possible.  Make sure to look in the direction that you want to go and control your path of travel.   If you must drive over the obstacle slow down as much as you can and keep the motorcycle in an upright position. Also rise slightly off the seat with your weight on the foot pegs to absorb the shock with your elbows and knees.  Just before you hit the obstacle, slightly roll on the throttle. This will lighten the front end.  If you experience a hard impact, then pull off the side of the road (when safe) and check the bike for any damage before continuing.

Slippery surfaces can be very dangerous when riding a motorcycle.  Motorcycles handle much better on surfaces with traction.  Wet pavement, gravel, mud, snow and ice are all tough surfaces to ride on because there is little to no traction.  Steel plates, manhole covers and lane markings are also slippery when wet.

To ride safely on wet surfaces the rider must reduce speed, avoid sudden moves, and use both brakes.  Make sure to squeeze the front brake gradually so the front wheel doesn’t lock.  Also, use gentle pressure on the back break.  When it starts to rain, ride in the tire marks left by other vehicles because the middle of the lane may be very wet.  Usually the left tire track is the better track to ride in, depending on other road conditions and traffic.  Also, watch for oil spills and dirt and gravel on the edge of the road, as these can be slippery too.

Be aware that you may hit a wet spot or a patch of ice that you were not expecting. Roads dry out at different rates.  Try to avoid roads covered in ice and snow.  If you must drive on an icy surface, drive slowly and consider letting your feet skim along the surface of the road as you ride.  If possible, coast very slowly and stay off the brakes.  Attempting this maneuver at any speed other than the slowest of speeds could be very dangerous.

Should you be riding over railroad tracks or pavement seams, it is safer to ride straight within your lane.  Turning to take tracks head on at a 90 degree angle is dangerous.  This path could carry you into another lane of traffic.  Any track and road seam that runs parallel to you should be crossed at a 45 degree angle. After crossing, make a sharp, quick turn back into your lane. Edging across the tracks could catch your tires and throw your motorcycle off balance.

Lastly, don’t weave when riding over rain grooves or bridge gratings.  Try to relax, maintain a steady speed and ride straight across these surfaces.  You may feel uneasy as if your motorcycle is wandering but know that this is usually not hazardous.  If you cross at an angle it may cause your bike to zigzag and create a dangerous situation for you.

Riddle & Brantley Law Firm wants all drivers on the road to drive safely, including motorcycle riders.  There are many motorcycle safety courses riders can take. Make sure to check your local listings. The North Carolina Motorcycle Safety Education Program website may be a great place to start (ncmotorcyclesafty.org). At Riddle & Brantley “Safety Counts”!  We want you to be safe on the road.  However, if you are involved in a motorcycle accident in North Carolina, please call or email us as our motorcycle injury attorneys are here to help.



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