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In our first article in this series, we started discussing how the yearly shift in demographics that our area undergoes, come winter, affects the safety of our motorcycle riding brethren. How the influx of older, yet less experienced, drivers on our streets and highways has a tendency to lead to more dangerous driving conditions in general, and a much greater risk factor to motorcyclists in particular.

The truth is that as people age, their reflexes have a tendency to slow and that regardless of age, the ability to judge a motorcyclist’s speed and motion is an acquired skill that many, from our nations northern regions, simply haven’t had much practice at.

In a perfect world, these conditions would all be corrected with driver education and proper monitoring of driving skills. Our world is far from perfect, so it is only by protecting ourselves with good defensive riding practices that we can keep ourselves safe

Proper Riding Gear

This is an area that is going to step on a lot of people’s toes, but it is probably the single most abused area of safety that I personally see day after day. I can understand it, after all, the entire point of living in the ‘Sunshine State’ is the sunshine and who doesn’t love that dark, sexy tan that the ladies get from soaking up all those rays. What isn’t so attractive is the scar tissue that even a minor case of road rash can leave behind. So our first bit of advice this week is dress for safety.

This includes, at minimum:

  • Long sleeves
  • Long Pants
  • Over the ankle boots
  • Gloves
  • Quality Helmet
  • Top quality eye protection

The best possible gear is made specifically for riding, from top grain leather with reinforced seats, joints and impact areas and while maybe not the height of fashion for those of us in cruiser crowd, it doesn’t take seeing the results of very many high and low side accidents both on and off the track to prove the effectiveness of this race developed gear.

War Gaming

Now we come to the single most important piece of safety equipment that you have on your bike. As important as enhancing visibility is to safe riding and as major an impact, sorry for the pun, as how you dress can have on your survivability in an accident, none of these safety precautions and gear are of any use without this key bit of equipment. It is that little glob of Jello that rides inside your helmet, your brain.

You are your most important piece of safety equipment. When you are riding always be aware of what is happening around you and always be playing the ‘what if’ game. What if that car pulls out in front of me, what if this truck starts to merge while I’m still in his blind spot, what if that little blue haired lady really can’t see over her dashboard?

We have already spoken ad nauseam about the shortcomings of the cage drivers on the road and the fact that we can do nothing to change them, but by preparing ourselves, mentally, to react before a situation arises, we can greatly enhance our chances of doing the right thing at the right time. The rest, as they say, is in the hands of God.