Motorcycling

Take longer to look for bikes

Injuries to motorcyclists are out of proportion to their presence on our roads. Motorcyclists are just 1% of total road traffic, but account for 19% of all road user deaths.

Be a safer rider

Young riders represent 15% of motorcyclists but make up more than 38% of motorcycle rider casualties. Highways England has launched ‘Distressed’, a campaign highlighting the true cost of not dressing appropriately for the ride.

While you can never know exactly what another driver might do, there are actions you can take to help keep you safe. Have a look at our top tips and advice around wearing the right gear; filtering safely and using roundabouts and junctions.

Wear the right gear

The physical and emotional cost of not wearing the right motorcycle gear can be far greater than the financial cost. Fall off your bike and tarmac will shred through your standard jeans in seconds. Wearing the right gear is just as important to your safety as servicing your motorcycle and knowing how to ride it. Dress for the crash, not the ride.

  • Be seen: wear bright or fluorescent gear during the day and reflective gear at night.
  • Wear a protective jacket, gloves, boots and trousers.
  • Cost-effective street fashion motorcycling gear is available such as armoured parkas, hoodies and casual boots.
  • To be sure you are buying protective gear that meets the agreed standards, look out for the ‘CE’ (European Conformity) number. ‘CE’ numbers have been developed by leading industry professionals and medical consultants - there is a specific one for every item of protective motorcycling gear:
    • Gloves – EN13594
    • Boots – EN13634
    • Jacket and trousers – EN13595-1:2002
    • Elbow, shoulder hip and knee – EN1621-1-2012
    • Back protectors – EN1621-2-2003
    • Chest protectors – EN1621-3
    Please note that there are 2 levels of protection for all clothing apart from gloves and boots with ‘-2-‘ representing a higher level of shock protection.

Essential guide to protective gear for bikers [PDF - 421 KB]Opens new window

Choosing the right helmet could help save your life
The SHARP rating system helps you understand how much protection a helmet offers in a crash.

Visit the SHARP website Opens new window

Riding through narrow gaps in traffic (filtering)

  • Don’t assume anything. Drivers may give late, incorrect or misleading signals.
  • Watch out for gaps opening up in the traffic ahead. There may be a reason such as a driver holding back to let a pedestrian cross or a driver emerging or turning into the gap.
  • Never feel pressured to filter just because traffic is stationary or other riders are filtering.
  • Always look out for openings on the left or right where other vehicles may emerge from or turn into when least expected.
  • Look out for hazard lines marked on the road such as thicker white lines and zig-zag markings which signify pedestrian crossings, and are potential high risk areas.
  • Always travel at a safe speed: the speed limit is meant to be a maximum limit – not a target.
  • Expect the unexpected. Expect to have to brake, swerve or stop.
  • Try to avoid filtering on the nearside. This can be dangerous with drivers not checking their mirrors when returning to the nearside lane. Traffic can also move between lanes of traffic when gaps open up without checking their mirrors.
  • Before moving out to filter, always ensure that you have a safe gap to return to. Ride defensively not aggressively.
  • If in doubt, don’t filter.

Roundabouts, junctions and crossings


  • Always plan ahead by judging the speed and flow of other vehicles on approach to the roundabout so you can enter a gap and make safe progress.
  • Always be vigilant and never assume that other drivers will do as their indicators suggest.
  • On approaching a roundabout take notice and act on all the information available to you, including traffic signs, traffic lights and lane markings which direct you into the correct lane. Use Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre at all stages.
  • If you are turning right, signal right and approach in the right hand lane. Keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to exit. After you have passed the exit before yours - check your mirrors, indicate left and take a ‘lifesaver’ glance over your left shoulder to check the space you intend to move into is clear.
  • Extra caution is required if you have to cross white lane markings as they can be slippery in wet conditions. Roundabouts and junctions are also prime spots for diesel spills. Treat any wet patch as a potential diesel spill – especially long dark lines.

Junctions and crossings
Junctions are hazards, especially for motorbike riders. Because motorbikes can travel faster and are smaller than other vehicles, it can be easy for other road users not to see you until it is too late. At junctions you need to be careful that you observe exactly what’s happening around you and that you check that other drivers have seen you.

The Observation – Signal – Manoeuvre/Position - Speed - Look routine
Always use the OSM/PSL routine at junctions:

  • Observation: use your mirrors and look behind you to check blind spots so you’re aware of the traffic situation.
  • Signal: signal clearly and in good time.
  • Manoeuvre: use the PSL routine.
    • Position: move into the correct position on the road in good time to make the manoeuvre.
    • Speed: ride at the safe speed for the conditions so you can make the manoeuvre safely.
    • Look: keep looking ahead and around you for possible dangers such as other road users or pedestrians.

Just before you make your manoeuvre, use the ‘lifesaver’ check: this is a quick check over your shoulder into the blind spot to make sure nothing unexpected is happening before you go ahead with your manoeuvre.

if you’re unsure of the rules, take a look at https://www.safedrivingforlife.info/your-bike-road and 'The Official Highway Code'

The facts

  • Motorcyclists are roughly 38 times more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident than car occupants, per mile ridden
  • In 2013, 331 motorcyclists died and 4,866 were seriously injured in road collisions in Great Britain.
  • Motorcyclist KSIs have fallen since 2008 when 493 motorcyclists were killed and 5,556 were seriously injured on Britain's roads.

THINK! advice for motorcyclists

The following tips will help keep you and other road users safe.

Riding defensively makes you less vulnerable
Make sure you:

  • anticipate the actions of others
  • are alert and observant
  • can slow down and stop if the unexpected happens
  • position yourself in the safest and best place to maximise your visibility of potential hazards
  • take a 'lifesaver' glance over your shoulder before carrying out manoeuvres, so you know where others are and what they’re doing

Consider further skills training to improve your performance and safety on the road

Find out more about training

THINK! advice for drivers


Here are a few simple ways of avoiding crashes with motorcyclists:

THINK! take longer to look for bikes:
Look carefully for motorbikes when you pull out at a junction. If you're approaching a junction, look out for motorcyclists pulling out too.

Keep your distance
Driving too close can intimidate a less experienced motorcyclist.

Check for bikes when changing lanes
A motorcyclist may be in the space you want to move into, or moving into it fast. Remember your blind spot.

Check for bikes when turning
Parked cars or large vehicles can obstruct your view of a motorcyclist.

Motorcyclists might pass you on either side
Double-check for motorcyclists, whether you're turning left or right.

Park safely
Check for motorcyclists before opening your car door - and ensure that your passengers do the same. When you pull away, remember to look specifically for motorcyclists as they can accelerate faster than cars.


Watch split screen video

WATCH: 'Distressed' young rider video by Highways England

Watch never too good video

WATCH: The 'Never too good' campaign encourages motorcyclists to undertake further training.

READ: about life on a bike

LISTEN: to THINK BIKER ads

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Stay in control
STAY IN CONTROL
This campaign for motorcyclists offers essential riding tips
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Watch nemed rider video

WATCH: The THINK BIKE THINK BIKER TV advert encourages drivers to look out for motorcyclists.

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THINK! Road Safety Resources

A range of THINK! road safety materials is available for the public, for schools and other groups, and for road safety professionals.