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Defensive Riding Techniques – Motorcycle Safety Tips

Defensive riding on a motorcycle is essential for ensuring your safety on the road.

Here are some key techniques:

  1. Stay Visible: Make sure you're visible to other motorists by wearing bright, reflective gear and positioning yourself in a way that maximizes your visibility to other drivers. Consider adding front running lights, adding flashing brake lights, also adding reflective gear.
  2. "SEE": The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) came up with this to acronym: "Search" means to actively scan for any upcoming hazards or risks. "Evaluate" means we must consider how potential problems may unfold. "Execute" reminds us to apply your skills to avoid hazards ahead. As a biker, you must look out and not trust others.
  3. Anticipate & Be Vigilant: Always anticipate potential hazards by scanning the road ahead and being aware of your surroundings. Look for signs of danger such as erratic driving from other vehicles, pedestrians stepping out onto the road, animals or road debris.
  4. Ride On The Left Edge Of The Lane: At this position, you are most likely to be seen by other motorists, less likely to be passed by someone travelling behind you. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, depending on the circumstances.
  5. Slow Speed Motorcycle Control: Being proficient at slow speed motorcycle control makes you a better biker. It is commonly known that slow speed maneuvers are the most difficult and this translates to making you a better biker even at higher speeds. Practice slow speed maneuvers to increase your safety.
  6. Maintain Space: Keep a safe distance between yourself and others. This gives you more time to react if they suddenly stop or swerve. Many refer to the "Two Second Rule" to avoid following another vehicle too closely. Depending on conditions, you may want to increase your following distance.
  7. Check Your Blind Spots: Cars have blind spots, but motorcycles do too. Make sure to "regularly check your mirrors" and do head checks to be aware of vehicles around you, especially when making a lane change.
  8. Use Your Motorcycle To Be Seen: When riding solo, you may wish to gently weave your bike (slightly) from side to side within your lane to make myself more visible to others ahead. By doing so, you make yourself more visible to other motorists ahead, especially those waiting to pull out from a side street.
  9. Loud Pipes Save Lives: Consider adding louder pipes for own safety. Not only has the add-on provided better performance, but the louder pipes make you more audible & "visible" to others.
  10. Be Overt & Predictable With Your Intentions: Signal your intentions clearly and in advance. This helps other drivers anticipate your movements and reduces the likelihood of surprises. Consider the practice of also using hand signals in conjunction with your turn signals to best alert other drivers around you.
  1. Cover Your Brakes & Practice Emergency Braking: Keep your fingers lightly resting on the brake levers so you can quickly react if you need to stop suddenly. Practice "Progressive" braking by applying the brakes gently first, then squeezing or pressing harder on the brake(s). You can still brake firmly rather than simply grabbing the brakes.
  2. Be Weather-Aware: Know what you are riding into. Rain, high winds and other weather conditions can significantly affect your bike's handling and traction. Tripple digit heat can cause heat exhaustion, with related symptoms of faintness, dizziness and fatigue. Wear the proper gear and stay hydrated.
  3. Mind Intersections: Intersections are where many accidents occur. Approach them cautiously, slow down, and be prepared to take evasive action if necessary. Think of your escape route.
  4. Cornering/Turns: When approaching a turn: Slow before the curve, approach from the outside to "look" inside through the curve to see the exit way, then "press" towards the inside and throttle out. Without practice, less skilled riders may cross into on-coming traffic or "over-shoot" the curve resulting in a crash. A vlogger going by the name of "CanyonChasers" published a YouTube video: Stop Getting Scared in Corners // This Strategy Works Absurdly Well. Regardless of skill level, watching this video (almost 1 Mil views) is highly recommended.
  5. Avoid Aggressive Drivers: There are times we encounter bad drivers on the road: Drivers trying to cut or squeeze into our group formation, tailgating drivers and countless others. Best to simply yield to such drivers and let them be on their way. It is simply not worth putting yourself in harm’s way.
  6. Avoid Other Dangerous Situations: There are times where animals have run out in front of us, or when things fall off a truck or trailer, where objects fall right in front of us. Best to not follow trucks even if it appears their stuff is tied down, as such items may not be truly secured. Practice your braking, counter-steering, speed, weaving and other techniques to avoid or deal with unexpected hazards.
  7. When Sitting In Stopped Traffic: Best to downshift into first gear, holding the clutch in and watch your mirrors for traffic behind you. In these times of distracted driving, you want to have every possible chance to move out of harm’s way if at all possible.
  8. Continuous Learning: Take advanced riding courses to improve your skills and learn new techniques for staying safe on the road. For example, there is free class called "Safe Motorcycle And Rider Techniques" (S.M.A.R.T) hosted by the Tampa Police Department Motor Unit by TPD’s motor instructors. To learn more visit:

Remember, defensive riding isn't just about protecting yourself from your mistakes—it's also about protecting yourself from the mistakes of others. Always ride with caution and be prepared for the unexpected.

Brad Souders, a lifetime biker, an award-winning attorney with more than 30 years’ experience – A Biker Representing Bikers!

Attorney Brad Souders has a main office in Tampa, representing injured bikers and their families throughout the state of Florida.

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