How to position your motorbike in traffic

Riding a motorbike is only fun until something goes wrong … and one place it's sure to go bad if you're not doing the right thing is in heavy traffic. So here are some pointers to how to stay safe in the peak hour.

Traffic positioning

  • As a rider on the road, be aware of time and space requirements to be safe.
  • Choose a lane on the road that gives you the most space in front, rear and on the sides of the lanes. The more space you have, the safer you can be.
  • Maintain a good cushion between yourself and other traffic on the road.
  • Position yourself to be “seen” not “unseen”. You want other vehicles to easily find you so that they do not inadvertently drive into your space.

Being seen

  • Many motorcycle crashes are due to other motorists not being able to see you.
  • Wear clothing and gear that is highly visible (bright light colors).
  • Ride with the headlight on during the daytime
  • Always use your turn signals.
  • Flash your brake lights often to signal your intentions. Flashing is better than just having a steady brake light.
  • Use your horn selectively. But don’t rely on it.

Safe rider distance rules

  • Keep a 2 second distance away from the vehicle ahead of you. Increase this distance during adverse riding conditions or when you’re not 100% sure.
  • Be aware of the 4 second rule. This applies to anything in your immediate path that would take 4 seconds to reach you. These things will require a quick response to avoid or prevent accidents.
  • Seek and search for traffic and objects in the 12 second horizon. Anything that will take 12 seconds or less should be anticipated and properly analysed.

Components of total stopping distance

  • Perception Distance: The distance traveled from the time something is present until you see it.
  • Reaction Distance: Distance traveled from the time you see a hazard and when you begin applying your brakes.
  • Braking Distance: The distance traveled from the time you begin applying your brakes until when you actually stop.

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