No matter what age you are, if you are reading this blog, you have probably heard that song by a band called Mungo Jerry, ‘In the Summertime’, which was a hit back in 1970. Most people know the lyrics, certainly the verse that bestows the virtues of summer time driving: ‘weather is hot’, ‘stretch right up and touch the sky’, when the weather’s fine’ and the now infamous line: ‘have a drink, have a drive, go out and see what you can find.’ (The song, to be fair, was later used in an anti-drink driving campaign TV advert). With its catchy rhythm, it evoked the pleasures of summertime driving (leaving aside the ‘drink’ bit!).
There is something special about riding a motorbike in the summer. Blue skies, wall to wall sunshine. Open roads. Freedom.
It’s not all good news though. According to a report by Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), entitled Common Motorcycle Crash Causes (November 2017) most motorcycle accidents occur during the summer months of June, July and August. The reason given is that during these months, the generally good weather sees more vehicles on the road in general and motorcycles in particular. The number of motorcyclist casualties drops off in the winter months, when a mixture of much poorer weather and cooler temperatures lead to fewer motorbike riders on the roads. In this particular hot summer that we are experiencing, another factor is that the road surfaces are at risk, with the tarmac on some roads even starting to melt which together with the already poor state of a considerable number of roads, brings extra hazards for motorbike riders. A higher incidence of motorbike accidents in the summer months brings with it an increase in the number of motorbike accident claims and scooter accident claims too.
A few days ago, a good friend of mine (another lawyer – us lawyers stick together – who is mad about motorcycling!), was driving along the A1 in his car. Or perhaps it should be said – that he was stopping and starting with some intermittent periods of driving for a few miles and then slowing down again to a halt, as is the way with the dreaded A1. It wasn’t a short journey either. He was travelling along a hundred or so miles of A1 from south to north. It was a route he was familiar with; the volume of traffic was not the norm, however. It was one of the hottest days in modern memory. This day, he told me, was a Thursday and the road was busier than he had ever known it. It was heaving with traffic. He wished that he wasn’t in his car, though the air conditioning was nice.
It was whilst in one such jam, where the vehicles were never stationary for too long, but instead would set off, get up to maybe 15 or 20 mph for a few hundred yards, then slow down again to a halt, that he told me that he noticed through his rear-view and wing mirrors, a motorcycle filtering its way through the traffic. The skill of the rider was obvious: he took the channels between other vehicles to wend his way up the road. My friend was in the outside lane. The motorcyclist overtook my friend on his offside, between his car and the barrier separating the northbound from the southbound lanes. All perfectly safe riding as he went on.
When the motorcyclist was about 20 yards in front of my friend, by now travelling between the two lanes of northbound traffic, the queue of traffic started to set off again. As the motorcyclist manoeuvred past one care, the car suddenly started to move. This happened just as the motorcyclist was in the process of passing it on its offside. For a split second, I’m told, it looked as if there was going to be a dreadful collision. Fortunately, the rider deftly manoeuvred his vehicle over at the last split second, just enough to avoid being hit by the errant motorist, who had clearly not been checking his wing mirrors. With a withering glance over his shoulder, the motorbike rider was on his way. Fortunate.
At that moment, the ever-present vulnerability of motorcyclists was brought home to my friend, the keen motorcyclist. What might have been a minor dent-occasioning bump between two four-wheeled motor vehicles could, even at the relatively slow speeds all the vehicles were travelling at, motorcyclist included, have been far more serious for the bike rider.
So, what can motorbike riders do to try and ensure that they don’t become accident victims?
10 Top Tips for Summer Riding
- If your motorbike has been mothballed over the bad weather months of the winter, ensure, before it goes out for the first time after a layoff, that it’s given a complete bike check.
- Think about your riding gear. The temptation is to wear less. Ensure that any summer gear is still fully protective and avoid the temptation to leave bare skin exposed. That’s not just for protection in the event of you coming off your bike, but it will protect from over exposure to the sun.
- Be seen – make yourself as conspicuous as possible. Still ride with your headlight on dipped beam, even if the sun is blazing!
- If you are taking a long journey, take frequent stops – probably that means taking 10 minutes out of every hour that you are riding. Heat stress creeps up without you necessarily noticing it, until it may be too late.
- Keep hydrated. Dehydration will adversely affect your concentration and your ability to react to situations will be impaired.
- The ability to ride fast and to accelerate super quickly is one of the reasons people choose to be motorcyclists in the first place. Summer can seem the ideal time to open the throttle up more than usual once you’re on those idyllic sun-soaked country roads. Excessive speed is one of the major factors of single vehicle accidents causing fatalities among motor bike riders. Go easy on that throttle and don’t treat a glorious summers day riding any differently to driving in dry conditions in, say, the autumn.
- Watch out for the road surface conditions. Prolonged dry weather does nothing to improve the pot holes caused by a vicious winter. In this severely hot weather it is noticeable that some roads are crumbling and there have been reports of tarmac melting under the sweltering heat.
- In the endless summer traffic jams and slow-moving queues of vehicles, keep extra distance from the vehicle in front in case it suddenly stops. Be alert when filtering through stationary traffic and if the gap you are thinking of riding through seems narrow, hold back.
- On rural roads, take care on left hand bends not to expose yourself to the risk of collision with an oncoming vehicle that may be over the central white line.
- Junctions always present a particular problem for motorcyclists. In the summer an extra danger is low early morning and late afternoon/early evening sun, that may momentarily dazzle a motorist who is looking to emerge from a minor road onto the main road that you are riding along. Try to make eye contact with the driver of the other vehicle as you approach the junction with the minor road, out of which the other vehicle is seeking to emerge.
As a motor bike rider, all that you can do is ensure that you are doing all in your power to ride safely whilst still enjoying your riding. What you can’t legislate for is stupid or reckless driving by other motorists, particularly of the four wheeled variety. If, despite all your best endeavours, you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident whilst riding your bike and you are injured as a result of another driver’s negligence, then you should seek out the services of an experienced motorbike accident compensation solicitor to help you make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim.
At Truth Legal we have solicitors who are experts in making motorbike accident compensation claims on behalf of riders who have been injured as a result of the negligence of another driver.
To begin a compensation claim, your first step is to call and speak with one of our experienced road traffic accident personal injury compensation solicitors on 01423 788538
Alternatively, you can email us at [email protected]
Finally, if you prefer you can contact us to leave us a message and we will call you back.