Good day and compliment of the season to you all my dear brothers riding motorcycles to make a living. We just have to be positive in our thinking, hardworking and try our best to be law abiding and responsible citizen of the society. Let me remind you the motivating words of Robert Schuller that “tough time never last but tough people do“ .
Meanwhile, the primary aim of my letter with all respect is to give you some important guides and suggestions that will help to reduce the rates of serious injury and death resulting from all motorcyclists and moped riders who use this fragile two-wheel engine not only for domestic purposes but now as a means of transportation in major urban cities and roads of Africa. My mission is to foster and promote awareness and safe operation of motorcycles among the driving and riding public.
Motorcycle is a fragile two-wheel engine and small in size which affects its stability. Also, because of this, we have incidence of crashes due to difficulty to see motorcyclist by most driver especially when the rider is not putting on an obligatory bright colour cloth or reflective jacket. Lately, motorcyclists’ errors contributed to many fatal accidents in urban centres and cities of Nigeria. Most of the crashes came as a result of human errors either by the rider or the another driver. Motorcyclists are likely to be injured in serious or fatal crashes than car drivers because they are not well protected.. These following five guides are very important for your safety, that of your passengers (pillions) and other road users.
The very first important thing to keep you save on the road is to wear an approved crash helmet. The most vulnerable part of a motorcycle rider is head. Head injuries are main cause of death to motorcyclists. Your chances for survival will be increased if you wear a standard crash helmet. Never ride a motorcycle without an helmet nor carry a passenger without using helmet. It is now a serious traffic offence. Helmet also helps to prevent danger to the ears from indiscriminate horns, sirens and traffic noises.
Secondly, you have to SEE and BE SEEN by all road users while riding a bike. To be seen, you must use your dipped headlights during the day; (it is very obligatory in Europe) wear a bright cloth or reflective jacket or a white or bright coloured helmet. You can also put on protective and reflective clothing like clothes with pads, hand gloves, knee caps, boots, shoes and not bathroom slippers. Be visible and make sure you are seen in the mirrors of the vehicle in front. Make eye contact and never assume other see you. Know your blind spots when changing lanes and watch other drivers blind spots especially large trucks with trailers. Give them enough room to turn or manoeuvre.
Thirdly, a safe rider should apart from having good knowledge of his motorcycle, must also have total control of it while riding. Your eyes should be on the road and your hands on the throttle. You should aware, obey and familiar yourself with road signs, traffic signals and road markings. Safe riding demands attention and concentration at all times. Over-speeding does not give you full control of your bike. Telephone and cigarette can distract your attention and it is better to pack in a safe place to make a call or answer an important telephone call.
Fourthly, most of those fatal accident victims in Africa have some alcohol or drug involvement according to the recent study. Next to this are crashes involve riders (self-taught) who have not been trained to properly operate the motorcycle. Practical training is very important to save more lives. Drunk or drug riding causes many unnecessary and preventable tragedies on our roads. Alcohol affects your vision and speed judgement. It makes simple task more difficult and reduces your ability to do more than one thing at a time. Some drugs meant for pain relievers can increase drowsiness and tranquillisers like cough syrup, cold tablets and sleeping tablets can reduce your riding ability. It is advisable not take medication less than an hour before riding.
Finally, I know by now you must have been very much in a hurry to mount your bike as clients are now trouping out to the bus-stop, but spare me just a few minutes for this last important guide to help your riding on flood or wet road, heavy rainfall, cross winds and in the night ..In all above stated adverse weather conditions, a safer rider must always increase his safety margin or leave a security distance between his bike and the vehicle in front of him which can help in case of sudden braking without coalition. The first thing to do after riding through a flood or deep water is to test your brake repeatedly to make it dry. Remember that the braking distance can multiply on wet road. Avoid riding on heavy-rainfall and cross-winds which can blow-off cyclists and motorcyclists from the road. Low visibility in night riding increase the chances of getting accident, hence you should always reduce your speed and place yourself very well on the right hand side of the road. Never move the neck of an accident victim who shows signs of possible neck injury or remove the helmet of bike victim if you do not know techniques involved as not to complicate or worsen the victim’s situation.
Wishing you all my Okada brothers and sisters a save jolly ride as we are all becoming responsible, confident and safe rider in making our roads to be saved for all road users.
Thanks and remain blessed.
Adewale T Akande, an Author and Road Safety Traffic Consultant
based in Barcelona, Spain-is presently in Nigeria on World Bank project assignment on implementation of Governance Accountability Action Plan in the Road Sector.