It is no secret that motorcyclists are the most vulnerable road users. Singapore Traffic Police’s 2015 data shows that there are 145,000 motorcycles on the road, at the same time they make up only one for every six vehicles on the road. What this means is that it makes it hard for other motorists to notice you on the road.
On top of that, road accident statistics show that 45% bikers overtake or switch lanes without signaling and 41% speeds through an amber traffic light. Another disconcerting fact is that one motorcyclist dies every five days, making up half of all road fatalities.
All these points to the fact that as a rider, you need to develop a sharp road sense and never let experience be an excuse to let your guard down while riding.
In this article, we want to give you seven tips on how to sharpen your road sense so that you don’t become an unfortunate statistic.
1. New riders beware and be aware.
When you are a new rider, you don’t realise that there are two fundamental realities working against your safety. First, you are new to road conditions and habits of other vehicles (unless you have already been driving for some time). Second, your class 2B motorbike (200 cc or lower) typically comes with basic brakes and narrow wheels. This means that your chances of skidding and braking poorly are high. Taking these two factors into consideration, it is no wonder that a lot of accidents involve smaller motorcycles.
So when you get your first bike, be extra cautious and do not be tempted speed. Take some time to get used to the limits of your bike in dry and wet conditions of Singapore roads.
2. Always maintain a space cushion when riding.
It is not uncommon to see motorcyclist tailgating or riding close to the sides of other vehicles. This makes the rider extremely vulnerable to sudden manoeuvres of the other vehicle. So it makes sense to maintain a ‘personal space’ around yourself so that you have time to react to sudden changes in vehicle movements near you.
You may have forgotten the two-second rule of safety distance taught in riding school. As a reminder, this is how you use it. Observe the vehicle in front of you. Once it passes a marker, like a lamp post or a road marking, start counting “one thousand, two thousand” at a moderate speech rate. You should not pass the same marker before you finish counting. If you do, then you are riding too close to the vehicle. Should it jam brake, you will not have enough reaction time to prevent a collision. As a motorcyclist, you know that that will only send you flying off your bike.
The same should apply to vehicles in your rear. Too often we forget that drivers in Singapore have a bad habit of tailgating. Rear ending is one of the most common accidents here. For a motorcyclist, rear ending is not a small matter. It could mean the end of your life.
When you are overtaking a car, maintain your space cushion. Ride on the centre or right side of the arrow markings of the lane. When a car is overtaking you, move yourself to the left side of the arrow markings to give yourself that space.