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Defensive motorcycle riding ( part two )

Posted by Howard Trott on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 Under: Motorcycle Riding Skills
Approaching green traffic lights

Ask yourself - how long have they been on green ? - are there many vehicles already waiting at either side of the junction ? ( if there's a queue, the lights are probably about to change ) - do I have time to stop ? - can the vehicle behind me stop ? - if it's a large goods vehicle, it might need a greater distance to pull up.


Try to beat the traffic signals by accelerating or leave it until the last moment to brake - harsh braking causes skids.


Another driver might anticipate the change of signals by accelerating away while the lights are still showing red and amber. A combination of these actions often results in a collision that could be avoided.

Traffic signals not working

When traffic signals are not working treat the situation as you would an unmarked junction and proceed with great care.


A hazard in any situation which could involve adjusting speed or changing course. To identify a hazard, you must - look well ahead for clues such as - road signs - changes in road conditions - parked vehicles - junctions - cyclists - other motorcyclists - pedestrians - horse riders - animals, particularly dogs off the lead. Remember as soon as you've recognised a hazard, you must use the mirrors or look behind to assess - how other road users will effect your planning - how your actions will effect following traffic.

Allowing time and space

Always leave yourself enough time and space to cope with what's ahead. - keep your eyes scanning the far and near distance, especially in towns, where things change quickly - check regularly on what's following you - watch for clues about what's going to happen next.

Separation distances

Always keep a good separation distance between you and the vehicle in front. Leave a gap of at least one metre or yard for each mph of your speed. In bad conditions, leave at least double the distance or a four-second time gap.


When a vehicle behind is too close to you, ease off very gradually and increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front.

Large vehicles

Take extra care when following large vehicles, especially at roundabouts, junctions, entrances, etc. The driver might have to take a course that seems incorrect to you. For example, moving out to the right before turning left. Keep well back from any large vehicles that are in the process of manoeuvring to the left or right. Don't get caught out by trying to pass on the left. Large vehicles can also block your view. Your ability to see and plan ahead will be improved if you keep back.


If you are following too close behind a large vehicle, the driver might not be able to see you in the mirrors.

Recognising hazards

Events can happen at the same time, or in quick succession.

Country roads

These roads present their own hazards. Take extra care and reduce your speed as you approach bends and junctions.

Bends and junctions

Bends can often be sharper than you think they are going to be. They may also obscure other, more vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists, or larger slow moving farm vehicles. Junctions, especially minor junctions or entrances to farm premises, are not always signed and may be partially hidden. Road surfaces on country roads, be prepared to find - worn road surfaces - mud - hedge cuttings - leaves in the autumn. If you see mud or hedge cuttings on the road. Anticipate finding the cause around the next bend. This may be farm machinery or farm animals. Either way it will be a slow moving hazard and you need to be prepared to stop.

Other road users 

There are often no pavements or footpaths on the side of the road in country areas. Where there aren't any pedestrians are advised to walk on the right-hand side of the road so they can see oncoming traffic. You should be prepared to find people walking or jogging on your side of the road. Horse riders and cyclists are often found on country roads. Give them plenty of space and always be patient and wait until it is safe before overtaking, especially on narrow or winding roads.

Approaching any hazard 

Follow the DSM/PSL routine every time you recognise a hazard. - OBSERVATION - SIGNAL - MANOEUVRE.


Check the position of following traffic using your mirrors or by looking behind at an appropriate time.


If necessary, signal your intention to change course or slow down. Signal clearly and in good time.


Carry out the manoeuvre if it's still safe to do so. Manoeuvre has three phases - POSITION - SPEED - LOOK.


Get into the correct position in good time to negotiate the hazard. This helps other road users to anticipate when you intend to do so. Positioning yourself too late can be dangerous. Ask yourself - can I see and be seen ? - are other vehicles restricting my course of action ? - have I enough room to get out of any difficulties ?. Avoid cutting in front of other drivers or riders. If lanes are closed or narrow because of road works, move into the correct lane in good time.


Ask yourself - could I stop in time if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes sharply ? - am I going too fast for the road conditions ? - am I in the right gear needed to keep control ? be prepared to slow down as you approach a hazard.

Always be ready to stop

Keep looking ahead to assess all possible dangers. This is particularly important at a junction. Look in all directions, even if you're not turning. If you're joining a road, keep looking as you turn from one road to the other. Watch out for - traffic turning across your path - pedestrians.

In : Motorcycle Riding Skills 

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