There are countless dangers when negotiating your way through traffic on a motorcycle, and the perils have only multiplied with the hazards of distracted driving. And when you’re on a motorcycle, there’s no such thing as a minor fender-bender type of accident. You’re the only one you can rely on to traveling safely. Here are five tips you should always keep in mind when riding through traffic.

Wiggle Waggle

Human eyes are attracted to movement, and knowing this fact can expand your strategies for being seen. If you see a car potentially waiting to make a turn in front of you, give your handlebars a push and pull to make your bike lean back and forth, which makes your headlight move to attract lazy eyeballs.

Cover Your Brakes

Time is rarely more precious than when your motorcycle is intersecting with an inflexible object like a car. Quickly bleeding off speed can be the difference between a hair-raising near-miss and a trip to the hospital. Covering your bike’s front-brake lever will save critical moments versus the procedure of loosening your fingers’ grip on the throttle and then reaching for the lever.

Be Conspicuous

Wearing a black helmet and black jacket on a black or gray motorcycle is a good way to get overlooked in a sea of multicolored traffic, and that’s especially so at night. Better to choose brighter colors, at least for your helmet. You do wear a helmet, don’t you…?

Watch Your Six

A texting teen or a distracted dad can rudely and violently interrupt your daydreaming while sitting at a red light. Getting rear-ended at a stop light is unusual, but it’s happened to many thousands of motorcyclists. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye on your mirrors for cars that are too-rapidly approaching from behind, at least until one car has safely come to rest as a buffer to the next car that approaches.

They’re All Out To Kill You!

This is one of the best pieces of advice to dealing with traffic, as it simplifies the equation so that it’s clear your safety is almost entirely up to you. Expecting other drivers to reliably do the right thing is a recipe for disappointment and doctor visits.

  • Old MOron

    “They’re All Out To Kill You!”
    Words to live by.

    And I like the wiggle-waggle trick. I wonder if a headlight modulator falls under the same human-eyes-are-attracted-to-movement umbrella.

    • Mahatma

      I shoot to kill when I see those modulators.Just a heads up;)

      Hate those with a passion.If I were a trucker and saw one of those coming at me at night,I’d let loose all those floodlights at that S-O-B! Did I mention my disslike of those modulators?

      • major tom

        Who uses a modulator at night? I do flash my high beam if in doubt. My Moto Guzzi had a trigger lever that flashed both beams, I miss it.

        • cg

          Flashing a headlight can give a driver the ok to pull out. I would never flash a headlight. Modulators are a good answer, can’t be used at night and you can be seen in day time. Check your local and state laws on legality. Ive changed all my turnsignals to running lights and installed super bright LED clusters. My tail/brakelight is modulated and bulbs replaced with ambulance bright LED hi-lo brakelight cluster. Some drivers wouldn’t see you even if you set yourself on fire! Many impaired drivers out there esp those pot smoking morons who can’t remember where they’re even going half the time and they text too! Multi taskers!

          • major tom

            What?! So I’m going down the road at normal speed and my flashing my lights says go ahead and kill me?! I’ve done this for years and never ever had the response you say. In fact at least twice it has saved my life!! The crossing car was starting to roll , I flashed, their head jerked, they slammed on the brakes. It was so totally obvious they did NOT see me. You are doing a disservice to other bikers. All bikes should have this trigger to flash! Hit the trigger as many times as necessary.

          • cg

            let’s see… Car Drivers are conditioned beings that respond to learned stimuli… Like flashing headlights. On a number of occasions I have flashed drivers and they have mistaken that headlight flash for permission to pull out much like being on the highway and flashing someone who wishes to get back into a lane. No disservice here only a warning. You cannot predict with any certainty what a car driver will interpret a hi beam headlight flash to mean. I’d rather install a modulator.

      • Jason

        I would never use modulators at night, but I am considering installing them on my bike for day-time use. I hate to be an asshole, but I’m slightly less concerned about annoying other drivers as I am with preserving my life.

        I have heard the argument that a modulated headlight can cause target fixation in drivers, thereby nullifying their benefit to riders. I would be interested in reading any bona fide statistics on the matter.

      • PNUT1

        They don’t even come on at night. There’s a light sensor on them.

    • Michael Howard

      Yeah, rather than the common, “You’re invisible to other drivers”, I’ve always preferred to think, “Other drivers CAN see me, they’re out to get me and, at any time, one of them is going to try to take me out.” You’ve always got to expect the worst thing at the worst time and be prepared for it.

    • PNUT1

      I have a headlight modulator and it’s saved me from people turning across me more times than I can count.

  • Mahatma

    Experience beats out smart all days of the week.

    Not to deride smart that is;)

  • JMDonald

    Absolutely. Even if you do everything right they are still out to get you. Know it live it love it.

  • Douglas Powell

    Thank you very much for this safely tips .

  • Razor Hanzo

    My accident last November was on a quiet residential street. The idiot behind me was texting, didn’t see me slow down to make a left, and plowed right through me, I’m OK now, awaiting the results of my claim, and back in the saddle. But be aware, it can happen at any time regardless of traffic or the size of the street.

  • schizuki

    TIP #1 – Don’t do what the guy in the picture did.

    (That said, the picture looks like a fake. Where is the car’s door? It looks like they took a wadded bike, shoved it in the car and then crushed the car around it.)

    • Mahatma

      Is that an RC45 stuck in there?!An expensive cock-up

  • spiff

    All good stuff, especially “the wiggle”. My buddy was rear ended years ago, and I consider this a priority to watch with city driving. As I watch “my six” I am in gear and pointed between the two cars in front of me. Dump the clutch, and I am half a lane and four car lengths gone.

  • Jay Berkley

    On December 1 2013 Angela Jo Davis of Bridgeport West Virginia hit me. Lousy junkie almost killed me.
    Angela Jo Davis you suck as a driver and as a human being.

  • Gruf Rude

    Some of them ARE out to get you. I’ll never forget the old man (looked to be in his sixties) that deliberately swerved into me, then did the same to my wife, who was riding a bit ahead of me. Violent evasive maneuvers saved us both, but he was definitely trying to hit us. Sociopaths come in all ages and genders and some of them are out there on the road driving Buicks . . .