Who is to be blamed? The car driver who changed direction like he was avoiding a pothole or the motorcycle rider behind him who didn`t care enough to maintain a safe distance from the car? Well, in my opinion, both were wrong. These are just one of the many scenarios which are commonly seen on public roads, some of which are downright hilarious and some are very serious. Motorcycling is a double edged sword: it can be tremendously enjoyable and downright life threatening at the same time. Safety, security and protection are immensely important needs of a human being, second only to food, water and shelter. For every cause there is an effect and for every effect there is a cause, this is the law of cause and effect. Nothing happens in this Universe unless there is some cause for it.
The problem is that we live with effects instead of investigating the root cause of the problem to solve it. People always react, instead of act. And the root cause is your impatience, haste and ego. These are public roads, not racetracks, where each second counts. The cause of everything is you, the driver/rider. Not other people, not weather conditions, not hailstorms, not your bike/car, not your neighbor, but you.
To prevent such accidents from happening, it is of paramount importance to educate motorcyclists about safe riding techniques and methods. A motorcycle coaching school should do the job, if there opens one in India. But right now it is your own responsibility to ensure your safety. The following are some tips which, if applied, will keep the rider as well as others safe and sound, guaranteed (well, almost). What`s more, you`ll be less stressed and happier, even in traffic ! Motorcycle Riding Tips For Being Safe:
* Visualize- Before heading out, imagine with as much detail as possible - your bike, the road on which you are travelling, the people around you, the traffic lights, the speed at which you are travelling, the wind, the different sounds you hear, etc. Review the complete ride/journey in your mind, before you leave. If once isn`t enough, do it twice or thrice. This will prepare you mentally, calm you down and make you far more alert.
This is a very scientific method. I have made it a habit to visualize my every day journey. I visualize all green lights on the way and having encounters only with good drivers/riders while travelling and now I cannot help but get the very same results. Create your entire journey beforehand, in your mind. You will be amazed at the result. It`s nothing short of miraculous. TRY IT FOR YOURSELF !
* Keep a calm mind- like an ocean. Always. There is a lot of difference between riding fast & smooth and riding rashly & hastily. The former is the result of a calm and alert mindset, the latter, of an agitated and impatient mindset.
* Always, maintain buffers, on all sides- A Buffer is the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in your front and/or back. Keep in mind the 2 second rule. There should be a gap of 2 seconds, in the front as well as back of our vehicle, which should extend to 4 seconds during rains, as braking distance increases.
To ensure 2 seconds, choose a fixed object such as a tree or a signboard as the yardstick between your bike and the vehicle in front of you. Let the vehicle in front of you cross the tree and then mentally count “One thousand and one, one thousand and two”. If you cross the tree before the time it took you to count, you are following the vehicle too closely. Slow down and increase the gap. Regardless of your skill level, this is the surest way to remain safe as you get a lot of time to perceive situations and react to the mistakes of other drivers and riders, which may otherwise have proven to be disastrous for you. * Look FAR ahead of you to spot good gaps and anticipate other drivers/riders. You will notice that the farther you are able to look and perceive, the smoother the inputs on your motorcycle will get. Motorcyclists have a distinct advantage here as they have a much higher and wider field of view, unlike cars. Use it to your best advantage.
* Keep your Rear View Mirrors adjusted and look at them every 10 seconds. Before any overtaking maneuver, look over your shoulder to make double sure that there is no one behind you. Mirrors don`t cover the full view of what is behind you. There are always some blind spots. I do this. Trust me, this one is a lifesaver. Don`t be surprised to know that “not being seen” is a common reason car drivers cite when asked about motorcycle accidents. Only a motorcyclist can understand this. Other vehicles are big enough to always be seen.
* Whenever the opportunity arises, communicate with other drivers and riders. At red lights, for example. Just plain smile or even wink at them. Make your presence felt. Let them know you are there! Eye contact is very important. Eight times out of ten, you will get back a positive response from them. People are less likely to hit you if they know you or have just met you. They will know you are there. Also your daily ride will be happier as you will smile and communicate more. Spread smiles and happiness. Make it fun !
* Practice swerving. Swerving is a much better way to avoid obstacles or potholes. Find an empty stretch of road and practice to perfection. Remember, you will go where you are looking, ALWAYS.
* Ride smoothly, just like a flowing river. Maintain, as far as possible, a constant riding speed. Smoothen your acceleration, braking and gear changing inputs. The most important piece of equipment on your motorcycle is you. Train yourself. Practice. It will only take some hours. Do 40 minutes of practice every day for a month. You will experience the dynamics of your motorcycle to a higher degree and find what it is truly capable of ! Practice always pays. Always ride with maximum protection, at least wear a helmet and full clothes, coupled with sturdy ankle length boots. Why? Because your brain is the single most important organ you have, Love it and protect it. You are nothing without your brain. A helmet is to your head as a chassis is to your car. Need more reason? Because you have a family waiting for you at home. Because you are meant to be safe and sound, just like everyone else is meant to be. Because you are meant to live long and accomplish great things ! You are here for a purpose.
GO AHEAD AND RIDE SAFE.
By: Vikram Malhotra