The Motorcycle Operator Safety Classes teach a rider both physical and mental techniques that will aid the rider in becoming as safe as possible on the streets. Some of the skills that are taught at the class are directly related to physically operating the motorcycle, whereas other skills you will learn are mental in nature such as awareness, anticipation and judgment.
This article will briefly examine each of the mental skills taught in the Motorcycle Operator Safety Classes:
The freedom that a rider will experience on a motorcycle is also their worst enemy. One of the things that make riding fun is being out in the open and enjoying the scenery. However, this freedom is also what makes riding dangerous. No matter how minor, any accident could result in injury or even death. That is why it is very important for you to remain constantly vigilant of your surroundings. This requires a rider to know what is in front, behind and to either side. In addition, you must be aware of any obstacles that could cause a loss of control. These obstacles could mean something large in the road, or it could be something small like gravel or a puddle of water.
The course gives a few guidelines that help a motorcyclist to be safe. One of these is called “SEE,” which stands for Search, Evaluate and Execute. Searching for danger could be the single best way to maintain safety on the streets. If you know what is coming up ahead it is much easier to avoid it. It is especially important to evaluate when approaching an intersection. You should watch for any vehicles turning in front of you, or anyone who might be running the red light. Another time when you should be at a heightened state of awareness is when passing a row of parked vehicles on the side of the street. These vehicles could be pulling out at any time, or could simply just be opening the door.
Being aware and practicing SEE is important for all motorists, but even more so for motorcyclists. Knowing what is about to happen could be the difference between an accident and a close call.
Another mental skill for a motorcyclist to master is anticipation. No matter how aware you are of your surroundings, there will likely come a time where you will be forced into an emergency situation. The faster you anticipate the danger, the faster you can react to it. One of the easiest ways you can increase your chances of quickly anticipating danger is to simply give yourself more time. This means slowing down, especially when approaching an intersection or other dangerous situations. A technique taught at the course is to “cover” the clutch and brake when approaching an intersection. This means to have your hands in a position ready to squeeze down and stop. Doing this will greatly reduce reaction time, and could stop an accident from occurring.
At all times, you should provide yourself with an escape route. Instead of traveling right behind and right next to other vehicles, you should have a direction you can escape to in case of emergency. In some cases, you can use the shoulder as an escape route. In addition, you should let other vehicles pass you when they are too close behind. It is not advised to speed up to get a tailgater off your back. What ends up happening is the tailgater is going to continue traveling right behind you, except at higher speeds.
Judgment on a motorcycle means evaluating your current situation and knowing how to improve it if necessary. Examples of this are proper lane position, avoiding blind spots, keeping safe distance from other vehicles and knowing how to deal with various surface hazards.
Operating your motorcycle within proper lane position is a constantly changing aspect of riding. You should always pick a lane position that will maximize the space between you and other vehicles. For example, when passing a row of parked vehicles on the right side of the road you should ride in the left portion of your lane. Part of choosing lane position also includes increasing other motorists’ ability to see you. This means staying in the middle of the lane when behind someone so they can see you in the rear view mirror.
Another important thing to do is stay out of other driver’s blind spots. Obviously, there are going to be times when you are in another driver’s blind spot, but the goal is to not stay there. When traveling alongside other vehicles you should try to remain either behind their rear bumper or directly next to them so they can see you out of their peripheral vision. Obviously, semi-trucks have a much larger blind spot so it is important to avoid riding next to a semi whenever possible.
Finally, it is important to know how to deal with surface hazards such as gravel and water. The best way to avoid these things being a problem is to remain upright while riding through them. Other surface inconsistencies such as potholes and manhole covers can simply be avoided by maneuvering around them.
Practicing awareness, anticipation and good judgment are the best way to avoid an accident. The Motorcycle Operator Safety Training courses will teach these techniques which will help any rider to become safer and more confident on two wheels.