Global Navigation

Ride Smart!
Ride Safe! Ride Often!

Main Navigation



Rider Responsibility

We all know and enjoy the thrill and excitement of riding our motorcycles, whether it's in cross town traffic or out on the open road of the countryside. We relish the freedom of traveling unencumbered by a bubble of metal and glass as we soak in the warmth of the sun and feel the wind against our bodies. We're captivated by the panoramic view and distinctive smells that escape those wrapped in the cocoon of a more conventional vehicle.

Yet we understand the risks associated with riding our beloved two-wheeled steeds. We are vividly aware of our vulnerability as we deal with the elements of weather, bugs, debris and other roadway users. Although everyone is accountable for safety on the road, we know that not everyone accepts their fair share of that responsibility. We've all seen the crazy things people do while they're driving down the road that create problems for us while we're riding with them in the traffic mix.

Because of our vulnerability when we're astride our revered motorcycle, we need to accept a larger share of the responsibility for our own safety. While it may not seem fair that other drivers aren't accepting their portion, it's simply the reality of the situation because we have more to lose in the event of a crash. To enhance our safety on the road, we must develop an attitude of rider responsibility.

We simply cannot blame others for all the motorcycle crashes on the highways and byways of our country. This is not to say that riders are responsible for all the crashes they suffer, but rather that there is often something the rider could have done to avoid the crash in the first place. A couple of examples might illustrate this point.

The story we hear most frequently is the car turned left in front of the motorcycle and there wasn't anything the rider could do to avoid the crash. That may have been true at that point, but what if the rider had been expecting it to happen? What if the rider had seen the steering wheel move or the tires start to roll? Clearly the driver was at fault, but if the rider had seen any of these signs, would that have provided a little more time to do something to avoid the crash?

What about the rider that was rear-ended at the traffic light? Again, this rider is the victim of a careless driver's actions, but did the crash need to happen? Was the rider in first gear ready to move quickly if needed? Was the rider stopped towards the side of the lane instead of the center with enough space ahead to move out of the way? Was the rider watching the mirrors to ensure any vehicle approaching from behind was in fact stopping? If someone was coming up at speed, might the rider have been able to move out of the way and avoid the crash?

Half the motorcycle crashes involve only the motorcycle, but these single-vehicle crashes aren't much different either. The rider was following a truck onto the on-ramp to the highway as water was sloshing from the dumpster it was hauling. Part way through the curve the motorcycle's front wheel washed out and the bike went down hard. What if the rider had considered that the dumpster had sat in the rain for the past couple of days and that water was scattering sludge from its contents onto the roadway? What if the rider had adjusted speed and position of avoid travelling across the streak left on the on-ramp? Might the crash have been avoided?

Even when the rider is clearly not at fault for the crash, there may have been something that might have been done to avoid it. Because of our vulnerability when riding, we have to assume personal responsibility for our safety on the road. Rider responsibility may not prevent all crashes, but if it allows you to avoid one, isn't it worth the extra effort?

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!