Defensive motorcycle riding is based on effective observation, good anticipation and control. It's about always questioning the actions of other road users and being prepared for the unexpected, so as not to be taken by surprise. Defensive motorcycle riding involves - awareness - planning - anticipating - staying in control and riding with - responsibility - care - consideration and courtesy. It means putting safety above all else. It's about having real concern, not only for your own safety, but also for other road users, including the most vulnerable.



Expect other people to make mistakes, and be ready to slow down or stop - even if you think you have the right of way. Never rely on other road users doing the correct thing.

Your safety 
Your safety lies mainly in your own hands. The better your control of your motorcycle and road space, the safer you'll be.

A good example
Your motorcycle riding should always set a good example to other road users. You never know when your good example will make a deep impression on another motorcycle rider, especially a learner or an inexperienced rider, and perhaps save lives in the future.

Reducing hostility
With defensive motorcycle riding, you show patience and anticipation. This helps to reduce the number of incidents which result in - open hostility - abusive language - threats - physical violence. Avoid the kind of riding that - gives offence to other road users - provokes reaction - creates dangerous situations.

Competitive riding
Never ride in a spirit of competition. Competitive riding is, inherently, the opposite of defensive riding. It increases the risks to everyone.



Observation
When you take rear observation, just looking is not enough. You must act sensibly on what you see. You must have a mental note of the - speed - behaviour - possible intentions of any other road user. If you're not observing effectively, you can't assess a traffic situation correctly. At junctions, there's no point in just looking if your view is obstructed - for example, by parked vehicles. You must also move carefully into a position where you can see without emerging into the path of oncoming traffic - look - assess and decide before you act. That's what effective observation is all about.

Observing what's ahead
A skilful motorcycle rider constantly watches and interprets what's happening ahead.

Do
Always ride at such a speed that you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear. A good motorcycle rider will constantly scan the road ahead and to the side and, by use of effective rear observation, be aware of the situation behind.

Approaching a bend 
Ask yourself: can I see the full picture ? - how sharply does it bend ? - am I in the right position ? - is my speed right ? - what I need ? - could I stop if I had to ?

Approaching a junction
Ask yourself: have I seen the whole junction ? - can others see me ? - am I sure they've seen me ? - have I got an escape route if they haven't ?

Don't
Ride beyond the limits of your vision.

Zone of vision at a junction
Your zone of vision is what you can see as you look forward and to the side from your position. As you approach a junction, your zone of vision onto the other road usually improves. You may need to get very close before you can look far enough into another road to see if it's safe to proceed. The last few feet are often critical. Sometimes parked vehicles restrict your view so much that you need to stop and inch forward for a proper view before you emerge. Look in every direction before you emerge - keep looking as you join the other road - be ready to stop - use all the information available to you - look through the windows of parked vehicles - use the reflections in shop windows to observe oncoming traffic.

  

Other road users
It can be difficult to see some other road users, especially when you are emerging from a junction. Those who are particularly at risk are pedestrians; they frequently cross at a junction and often find it difficult to judge the speed and course of approaching traffic. Cyclists; they can be difficult to see because they can easily be obscured by trees and other objects, especially if they are riding close to the side of the road. They might be approaching at a higher speed then you expect. Other motorcyclists; like cyclists, they are often less easy to see than other motor vehicles.

Remember
Never rely solely on a quick glance - give yourself time to take in the whole scene. If another vehicle or a pedestrian is not in your zone of vision, you're not usually in theirs. Make eye contact with other road users helps you to judge whether they have seen you.

Observing traffic behind you
You should always know as much as you can about the traffic behind you. Before you move off, change direction or change speed. You must know how your action will effect other road users. You must also be aware of traffic likely to overtake.

When should you take rear observation ?
Well before you signal your intention or make any manoeuvre. For example, before moving off - changing direction - turning right or left - overtaking - changing lanes - slowing or stopping.

Just looking is not enough !  
You must act sensibly on what you see, and take note of the speed, behaviour and possible intentions of traffic behind.

Another road user's blind spot
Avoid riding in another road user's blind spot for any longer than necessary.