Undeniably, two-wheeler commuting is getting riskier day by day. Leave aside serious accidents, minor accidents keep occurring every day, but are seldom getting reported. In order tohave a safe ride on Indian roads, you should pay adequate attention to the ever-changing scenarios around you, be able to find out potential hazards and keep your vehicle (and yourself) away from it. Sadly, every driving school only teaches you how to ride, but not how to detect potential dangers and take adequate steps.
So, here are some tips that every biker should abide by in order to enjoy a safe ride in India.
- Dress properly: Most of us underestimate riding gear. Honestly, it is the most important way to ensure your safety on the road. In case of any accident or fallout, riding gear can save your head and body or at least minimise the extent of injuries.
A complete set of riding gear may include a good quality ISI certified helmet, riding gloves with knuckle protection, a riding jacket with an inbuilt armor to safeguard your elbows, shoulders, riding pants with an inbuilt knee protection and riding shoes. Though, it is imperative to ride with the proper riding gear, never compromise with the quality of helmets as they offer you protection against head injuries. It may spoil your hairstyle or you may find it daunting to carry it along with you, but at the time of an accident, a helmet can make a huge difference between life and death.
Now you might argue that how can you ride daily with all the riding gear? Well, honestly, if we consider Indian climate, it is not possible. However, make sure to go with some minimum riding gear like full-face helmet, gloves, etc. Further, as the summer has arrived, you might be tempted to roam around in shorts and t-shirts.But go with full-length clothes becausethe over-exposure to the sun can damage your skin.
- Respect big vehicles: Two-wheeler riders are best known to squeeze in their vehicles in every tiny space available on a road. Big vehicles, like truck, bus, etc.; need more space to make a turn and if you don’t want to get squeezed by them, give them the space they deserve.
Also, being stuck behind heavy vehicles will leave you breathing exhaust fumes and continuous wave of heat that exudes from their engine. That extra heat can prove havoc, especially during summers. So,keep a safe distance and avoid going too close to big vehicles.
- Stay away from road rage: A wrong parking, overtaking of a vehicle, etc.; might look like a petty issue to a sensible person, but do you know, these can become the reasons of someone’s death? Once rare, road rage cases are increasingly becoming routine on the streets of India. A minor quarrel happens, people take the law in their hands and a precious life is snuffed out.
Two-wheeler riders are of course the most vulnerable due to lack of physical protection around them. If you come across such kind of situation on the road and feel unsafe due to the actions of another road user, avoid direct confrontations, and keep yourself away from it as much as possible. Any danger should be notified to the authority as soon as possible.
- Keep a watch on unexpected elements: I used to ride nearly 30 kilometers every day to and from the office and have seen people on the road at their least sensible behavior. It looks like that theyleft their brains at home before coming to a road. Such traffic idiots don’t know how to cross the roads, andthey change lanes without any indication. When you see them, you wish to restrict their movement on a road.
Then you can find such people who will keep teasing you by riding madly around you. A few years ago, when I was returning from my office, I met such an idiot on a road. He kept riding along with me in a rash manner, but I did not utter even a single word and went with my speed as if he didn’t exist. What I have learnt from my experience, that it is good to avoid arguing with such type of people and keep riding with a cool and calm mind.
Then there are animals, like a dog or cow, who might appear from nowhere making you apply brakes suddenly. A panic brake can lead to skidding if your tyres are worn out and this can also lead to fall out if you do not control your bike. Further, impromptu road work, deep potholes, construction gravels on roads, etc.; are common in our country. There is only way through which you can deal with such incidences—Be extra vigilant while riding.Moreover, if you are on the highways, keep a distance and speed comfortable enough for you to handle the motorcycle if you have to apply brakes suddenly.
- Keep group size manageable: If you have reserved motorcycling only to weekends and that too with friends and family as a group, pay extra attention towards the group size which should be manageable. Also, avoid making side-by-side formations as they take up lots of space and in case you suddenly need to swerve, you would not have sufficient space to do so.
- Don’t drink and ride: This is a no brainer. In any case, never mix riding with alcohol, which can increase your reaction time. It has also been seen that booze gives false confidence to riders and they do not hesitate from trying stunts on a road which can prove hazardous.
- Carry a first-aid kit: Bike riders often succumbto injuries. A first aid-kit can become a big difference between death and survival until the medical aid arrives.
- Buy two-wheeler insurance: Irrespective of how much careful you are while riding a two-wheeler, accidents do happen not because of your fault, but sometimes because the other person doesn’t follow the basic rules of road safety. So, it is necessary to have a bike insurance to enjoy safe riding.
Mainly, there are two types of two-wheeler insurance policies in India:
- Third-Party Liability: Any injury or death caused to a third-party is covered under the policy. However, it doesn’t cover any damage to your two-wheeler. As per the law, it is compulsory for every vehicle owner to have a third-party liability policy in India.
- Comprehensive or Package Policy: The policy not only covers losses or damages which happen to you or your vehicle, but also includes any loss occurring to a third-party due to yournegligence. Unlike, third-party policy, this insurance policy also secures your vehicle from both natural and man-made perils like flood, theft, earthquake, fire, riots, storm, etc.
You can also go with a long-term bike insurance policy which covers your vehicle for up to two or three years in one go. It means, you don’t need to go for an annual policy renewal and you can save both your time and money. As the insurer saves on administrative and policy issuance costs, the benefit is passed on to policyholders in the form of cheaper premium rates.
- Ride within limits: Within safe speed, I don’t mean, you should ride slow. As a responsible rider, you should decide what is the upper speed for the scenario and make sure to ride within that limit only.
- Use intuitions: Sometimes, it is your intuitions which can ensure your safety on a road. For example, there is a bus in front of you, will it take a left turn, or right? If you daily commute from the same route, you might find it easy to guess it. Further, many people wave their hand if they need to change lanes or they look around to see if someone is coming from behind instead of using the rear-view mirror. Whenever you see such type of people and their unique indications, slow down because it means that the rider will change lanes. Also, be wary of shared autos as they stop abruptly to drop or pick passengers.
No amount of preparation can make your road journey 100% safe assome risk is always there. As they say, Better Safe than Sorry’, precautionary measures can make your journey safe to some extent. Also, when you are on a road, give your undivided attention to the road and your surroundings. Don’t think about your office, home, spouse, or anything else that can snatch away your attention. In particular, make sure you ‘both’ are on a road— with both I mean you and your vehicle!