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Whether this is your first year riding a motorcycle or your 50th, all motorcyclists can benefit from improving their riding skills. While newbie bikers may still realize that they have a lot to learn, even veteran bikers should consider brushing up on their skills from time to time. It takes practice and critical thinking to be able to ride well and avoid dangerous motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists who have avoided serious motorcycle injuries are not just lucky—they are skilled riders.

Complete a Motorcycle Training Course

The best way to improve your motorcycle riding skills is to take a quality, hands-on motorcycle-training course. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has developed two unique programs that are suited for all types of riders: the Basic RiderCourse for beginners and the Experienced RiderCourse for veteran riders. These courses cover popular topics, such as effective turning techniques, evasive maneuvers, and special braking techniques.

Increasing your Visibility

One of the best ways to improve your riding skills is simply to get other motorists’ attention. The sad truth is that the majority of motorists just do not see motorcyclists on the road. Bikers should wear bright, reflective clothing at all times, use daytime running headlights, and avoid riding in drivers’ blind spots. Use your horn whenever possible and always use your signals in traffic.

Use Reference Point Techniques

When riding around town, it is important to maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front of you. If you are riding under 40mph, keep a 2-second gap between you and the other cars. Use a reference point on the road to help you see if you are two seconds behind the other car. If you are riding on the open road at higher rates of speed, you should widen this gap to 3-4 seconds. This will allow you the time you need to maneuver out of danger in a critical situation.

Improve Intersection Skills

The majority of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections; most frequently when a vehicle turns left and into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist. When riding through an intersection, be sure to look for potential hazards and check traffic coming from the side, left, and/or right.

Riding across Poor Road Surfaces

Not all roads are created equal. When riding across roads with loose sand, gravel, or mud, it is important to downshift before you reach the problem area. Attempt to cross the poor surface in a straight line and do not accelerate until your bike is over the obstacle.

Handling the Wind and Rain

Strong winds and bad thunderstorms can be treacherous for motorcyclists. In order to combat strong winds, you have to lean into the wind a bit to maintain your bike’s balance. In rain, be sure to drive slowly, especially when rain first begins to fall. New rain will make the oil-covered road slippery and slick. Use caution and avoid high-rates of speed in the rain.

Emergency Braking

There are times in every motorcyclist’s life when they will have to brake suddenly. Learning how to apply your emergency brakes properly can prevent bikers from laying their bikes down suddenly. If you need to brake suddenly, apply both brakes to their maximum, but just short of locking them up. If the front brake does chirp, release the brake for a split second and then reapply it. If your rear wheel locks up, do not release the brake but be sure to keep the handlebars straight. This will ensure that you will skid in a straight line.

Handling Skids

Handling skids can be frightening, but they can be done properly and safely. If you are dealing with sand on the road at a high rate of speed, steer slightly in the direction of the skid until you have cleared the patch of sand and your tires grip the road again. If you skid while you are braking and one or both wheels lock up, release the brakes for an instant to gain traction once more. If you are going at a higher rate of speed and traction is good but the rear-wheels skid when braking, do not release the rear brake.

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At Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®, we want you to be safe out there when you ride. By improving your motorcycle riding skills, you can avoid dangerous and deadly accidents in 2014. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, we are here to help you and your family obtain the compensation you need to fully recover. Call us today at 1-800-4-BIKERS to explore all of your legal options. We Ride—We Care—We Win!