One of the best parts of owning motorcycle is getting to share your passion for the hobby with other riders both off and on the road.
However, riding with other motorcyclists can create new dangers. While the saying “there’s strength in numbers” is true for some aspects of riding, it’s important to also be aware of the new risks this create—and to ensure your riding partners are, too.
The next time you ride with others, whether it’s a single riding partner or a large riding group, keep these tips in mind.
Arrange a Time to Meet and Plan with the Other Riders
Whether you meet up online or in person, riders should get to know each other, establish routes and rest points ahead of time, agree on hand signals and other communication methods, and appoint riders for the front (lead) and back (sweep) of the group.
You should also take time to learn everyone’s skill and experience level. For example, novice riders shouldn’t lead or ride at the back of the group, and they may need to rest more frequently than more experienced riders. Keep riding groups between five to seven riders—if you have more riders than that in your group, break into smaller groups.
Ride in Staggered Formation on Straight Roads in Good Weather
Once you head out on the road with your riding group, stay in a staggered formation when riding on a straight, flat road, highway, or interstate. The lead rider should stay to the left of the lane of travel, the motorcyclist behind them should stay to the right of the lane of travel, the third motorcyclist should stay to the left of travel, and so on.
Each rider should ensure that at least one second passes between the rider ahead of them to their left or right reaching a landmark (such as a road sign) and they themselves passing that same landmark. This also gives each rider two seconds time between passing a landmark and when the rider directly in front of them on the same side of the lane as them did.
Doing this helps ensure there is enough space between each rider to allow them to come to a stop when necessary without colliding with the riders ahead of them.
Ride in Single-File Formation on Curvy Roads or When Visibility is Reduced
If riding on a curved/bumpy road or during times of reduced visibility, ride in a single-file formation instead of a staggered formation with a two-second gap between each rider.
Regardless of where you ride, never ride in a side-by-side formation. This gives riders less room to maneuver to avoid a hazard, and it can even lead to riders’ handlebars becoming entangled or riders accidentally bumping into each other, which can cause serious accidents.
Use Hand Signals or Radios to Communicate with Other Riders
If you’re riding with just one other motorcyclist or a small group of riders, it’s a good idea for everyone to have helmet communicators. These devices allow you to speak to and hear each other while riding.
However, if you’re riding in a larger group, ensuring that everyone has helmet communicators can be more difficult. In this case, using hand signals can help you communicate with the other riders (and is essential for lead riders).
Common hand signals include:
- Stop—Left arm extended straight down with palm facing backward
- Slow down—Left arm extended straight out with palm facing down
- Ride in a single file—Left arm and index finger extended straight up
- Hazard on the left—Left hand pointing towards the ground
- Hazard on the right—Right foot pointing towards the ground
- Pull over—Left arm pointing to the left to start, then bending at the elbow to point to the right
- Turn on high beams—Left hand tapping on helmet with palm facing down
When riding in a large group, hand signals should be passed “down the line” so that riders in the back can see what the lead rider is communicating.
Focus on the Rider Ahead of You—Not Their Motorcycle
Riders second in line and beyond should follow the movements of the riders ahead of them, but they shouldn’t become fixated on their motorcycles or their wheels. Instead, they should focus on the riders themselves.
By watching the rider ahead of you, you can see hand signals and other attempts at communication and be able to react to dangers or sudden movements ahead more quickly.
Stay Aware of the Group’s Size and Watch for Riders Behind You
One of the perks of riding in a staggered or single-file formation is that it’s much less likely for riders to get separated from the group because of red lights or other vehicles. However, sometimes riders fall behind due to unforeseeable events.
Just as you should watch the rider ahead of you to see what to expect, you should also check your mirrors to check on the riders behind you. If you notice a rider is lagging behind, try to communicate to the rest of the group that a stop may be needed. Always have a few planned stops on your route in case riders get completely separated from the group and can’t catch up.
Contact Our Oklahoma Motorcycle Accident Lawyers if You’re Hurt While Riding
Whether you’re a solo rider, ride in groups, or either depending on the day, you know that riding on two wheels means facing many risks on Oklahoma’s roads. Unfortunately, one of the biggest risks you face is other drivers who are inattentive, distracted, or downright careless.
If you or someone you love is injured while riding your motorcycle, Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers wants to help. We know the unique challenges of winning motorcycle accident claims, and we strive to help victims and their families get full compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.