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Assessing Relevant Threats for Motorcycle Riders - MTC Minute

Assessing Relevant Threats for Motorcycle Riders - MTC Minute

Assessing Relevant Threats for Motorcycle Riders

Motorcycle riders are exposed to a variety of risks on the road, including road surface hazards and other roadway users. To stay safe, riders need to be aware of potential threats and be prepared to react quickly and appropriately.

Road Surface Hazards

One of the most significant threats to motorcycle riders is road surface hazards. From sealants to potholes, these hazards can cause loss of control and serious accidents. Riders need to be aware of the following road surface hazards and take appropriate action to avoid them:

  • Crack Sealant: When sealant used to fill cracks on highways gets soft and slick, it can be hazardous to motorcycle riders. Changing lanes to avoid the sealant is the best option.
  • Cracked and Worn-Down Streets: Riders need to watch for depressions, potholes, and rough or uneven grooves on poorly maintained roads. Adjusting the path of travel to ride on portions of the road in better repair can help avoid accidents.
  • Dirt Roads, Gravel Roads, and Loose Surfaces: Unpaved or paved surfaces with loose debris can reduce traction for motorcycles. Acceleration, deceleration, and turns must be smoother to prevent total loss of traction.
  • Icy, Snowy, or Muddy Patches on Roads: When these elements are present, riders must focus on small, smooth movements, avoid sudden acceleration or braking, and cross patches vertically. Hydroplaning is a significant risk, so looking out for reflective surfaces and reducing speed and angle when turning is critical.
  • Uneven Roads: Some areas have crowned roads, and others may have been paved at a slight angle. These conditions make riders feel pushed towards the roadside, so adjusting input on the handlebars is necessary.
  • Wet Roads: Waiting out rain is the best option. When this is not possible, avoid patches with standing water as it can lift the motorcycle from the road, leading to a loss of traction. Reduce speed and lean angle when entering turns and look for shinier surfaces.

Roadway Users

Roadway users are another significant threat to motorcycle riders. Vehicles violating the path of travel, animals, pedestrians, and children playing near the street all pose risks to riders. Being vigilant and prepared to react is essential to prevent accidents.

  • Path of Travel Violators: These are people who pull out in front of riders when they are not supposed to, including left turners, people pulling out of parking spaces, and running stop signs. Being prepared for these events is crucial.
  • Lane Crossers: These are people who cross into riders' lanes either by merging into them while they are traveling in the same direction or crossing the line in the opposite direction. Merging incidents happen when riders are in a driver's blind spot, in freeway merging areas, or changing lanes in front of them without indicating. Oncoming vehicles that cross the line in the middle of a corner are particularly hazardous.
  • Animals: Small animals that run across riders' paths should be avoided, but if there is no choice, prepare to go over them without leaning over as it can cause a loss of traction. Dogs may chase motorcycles, so slowing down, adjusting the line, and quickly accelerating past them is the best option. Larger animals such as moose, elk, or deer require riders to stop until they clear the road.
  • Pedestrians: Pedestrians in crosswalks or jaywalking, and children playing near the street all pose a risk to riders. Be mindful of crosswalks as people tend to run without looking. Jaywalkers can be erratic and harder to see, and children may accidentally enter the roadway. Being prepared for these events is essential.


Assessing relevant threats is crucial for road safety, and motorcycle riders are particularly vulnerable.

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