Riding a motorcycle is riskier than driving a car. In fact, a crash as a motorcyclist is almost 30 times more likely to be fatal than as a motorist.

There are a number of steps you should take to stay safe as a motorcyclist.

Take a safety course

A safety course will teach you the rules of the road for motorcycles. You will also learn the appropriate actions to take in unpredictable riding situations that can arise. Driving a motorcycle requires skill and good judgment and a safety course can help you practice these. Consider an advanced riding course to learn collision avoidance maneuvers, advanced turning, control tips and braking techniques.

Gear up

No matter how hot it is outside, shorts, a T-shirt and sandals are not proper riding attire. You can go for extreme protection with leathers or reinforced jackets, pants and boots.

Glasses or goggles are a must if you have an open-faced helmet and to protect your hands, you should always wear gloves. In warm weather there is specially designed gear that is intended for ventilation and cooling. And, it should go without saying, never ride without a DOT-approved helmet.

Inspect your ride

Make sure your motorcycle is in proper working order every time you go for a ride. This includes checking tire pressure, mirrors and lights. Taking a quick walk around your bike will give you an idea if there are any loose bolts, leaks or other potential mechanical hazards. Be diligent about regular care and maintenance.

Stay in the comfort zone

Know your abilities and make sure that neither your chosen route nor motorcycle is more than you can handle. Never ride beyond your skill level.

Use your head

Don’t rely solely on your mirrors to remain aware of what’s in your immediate riding space. It’s important to keep your head and eyes up while rounding corners and that the safest way to change lanes is to actually turn and look over your shoulder to make sure you are clear. You will also be able to get a feeling for whether other drivers are paying attention to you.

Watch the road

Pay attention to the road you are riding on. Err on the side of caution when going into curves; be vigilant for potential gravel or other unstable road conditions. Be careful when crossing rail road tracks because the paint can be slippery—the same goes for the white lines at stoplights.

No safety in numbers

Group rides can be risky due to riders covering too much of the roadway, riders driving side-by-side, and having a mix of riders of various skill levels. Hold a pre-ride meeting to talk about your ride strategy and to review hand signals. Select a skilled group lead and sweep. Keep your group size manageable. Ride only in a staggered formation. Leave a safe and proper following distance between motorcycles. Take breaks to prevent fatigue.

Shared responsibility

Road safety is a shared responsibility. As a car driver, be aware of your blind spots, slow down behind motorcycles, don’t tailgate, and use your turn signals. One of the most common causes of collisions between motorcycles and cars is the car driver turning left in front of the oncoming motorcycle, often due to speeding or lack of visibility. If driving a vehicle and making a turn or changing lanes, “look twice, turn once”.

Never drive impaired

Operating a motorcycle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or fatigue, puts you and all road users at risk.

Learn more about the Highway Traffic Act

To learn more about the Highway Traffic Act and other laws in Ontario, visit Ontario's e-Laws website.