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What are the most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders?

Motorcycles are fun to ride, but one innocent trip can instantly turn catastrophic if road hazards get in the way. While accidents will always be unpredictable, you should still watch out for potential road hazards that could jeopardize your safety and take necessary measures to avoid them.

The most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders are:

• Road debris
• Wet and slippery roads
• Oil spills
• Uneven pavement
• Potholes
• Manhole covers
• Animals
• Expansion joints

Road hazards to watch out for

Road hazards are not exclusive to motorcycle riders, but what might seem like a minor hazard to regular car drivers could mean life or death for those on a big bike. Accidents often have fatal outcomes because motorcycles do not offer the same protection as cars and are less stable than standard four-wheeled vehicles.

So what are the most common road hazards you should watch out for, and how do you deal with each of them?

• Road debris

What are the most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders?

Road debris such as roadkill, tree branches, rocks, or a pile of leaves can result in a crash if you fail to see them soon enough or if they become airborne and strike you. Regardless of what kind of road debris you encounter, identifying whether it is bulky or not is the first thing you should do.

For objects that are not bulky such as plastic bags and small tree branches, you should overcome them easily. However, avoiding them is the only option for bulkier debris like large rocks blocking the road.

Be careful when steering away from any road debris though because not only can you disrupt traffic but you might also become a hazard yourself in the attempt to avoid them.

• Wet and slippery roads

What are the most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders?

One of the biggest risks of wet and slippery roads is hydroplaning which occurs when water pressure in front of the tire pushes the water under it, creating a thin film of water that separates the front tire from the surface of the road.

Hydroplaning can make steering and braking difficult, and it becomes even more dangerous if there is oil residue on a wet road.

To avoid this, always brake with caution when riding on wet and slippery roads. If you stop too quickly, your tires can lose traction which can make you lose control of your motorcycle.

  • Oil spills

What are the most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders?

Oil spills can make your motorcycle tires slip and slide, but they are easily avoidable if you know what an oil spill looks like on the road. A dark spot on the road that looks wet despite a sunny day? Most likely an oil spill. Rainbow on the road during a rainy day? Also, probably an oil spill.

However, oil can be a lot trickier to navigate through than other road hazards because it is slippery, so keeping traction over it will be more challenging.

In cases where it is impossible to avoid an oil spill, keeping a consistent speed when riding over it is the key. Once you have gone over the fall, remain cautious and continue riding carefully because there might still be some oil residue on the tires. Return to your regular riding pace only after a few hundred meters.

• Uneven pavement

If a car rides through an uneven pavement, the worst that could happen is a sudden jolt that the car’s occupants will experience. However, if a motorcycle rides over uneven pavement, the front tire could get caught and you may even be ejected out of your motorcycle.

Depending on how nasty the collision was, the resulting impact may lead to severe injuries or even death.

Uneven pavement is usually caused by road constructions that require digging up some portions of the road, oversized and heavy vehicles constantly using a particular road area, causing it to crumble, and persistent rains that soak the road and erode the soil underneath.

But regardless of the cause, the uneven pavement will always be potentially dangerous for motorcycle riders. Sometimes, no matter how careful and law-abiding you are, crashing into an unseen or unexpected road hazard will always be a possibility when riding a motorcycle.

• Potholes

What are the most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders?

The most common potholes are those more minor cracks on the road, which are typically shallow and only about two inches deep. If you encounter this kind of pothole, remain loose on the handlebars, use your legs to steady yourself on the motorcycle, and guide the bike over it.

However, if you are headed towards a more enormous pothole that is more than six inches in diameter and more than two inches deep, maneuvering around it would be the best course of action to avoid any damage to your motorcycle.

But if the situation does not permit you to maneuver around the pothole, the next best solution is to reduce speed and ride over the pothole slowly gradually. To succeed in this, find the shallowest part of the pothole to be easier to ride over.

• Expansion joints

What are the most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders?

Expansion joints, typically found on bridges and overpasses, connect road sections and allow them to expand without cracking. However, these joints also create gaps in the route where motorcycle tires can get stuck.

Motorcycle accidents are also likely if the surface around the expansion joint is in bad condition or becomes slippery due to oil residue on a wet surface.

To safely avoid expansion joints, you should maintain consistent speed and ensure that the tires are in a straight, perpendicular line until your motorcycle has gone over the joint.

• Animals

Animals should not pass through a highway, but sometimes they have to. When you encounter such a scenario, the typical course of action is to reduce speed and maneuver around them.

However, you may put yourself at risk and become the hazard yourself if you swerve carelessly in an attempt to avoid the animals. Other vehicles may not be able to brake or swerve as quickly, and the animals may not be visible to other drivers so always check your mirrors and your blind spot before proceeding.

Lastly, as a general rule, you should travel at a speed that gives you enough time to safely react to whatever is in front of you, whether it is other cars, debris, or animals.

• Manhole covers

What are the most common road hazards that endanger motorcycle riders?

Another road hazard that affects tire traction is a maintenance hole cover on the road. Its effect on your tires is similar to oil spills, so reducing the load on your tires is the way to overcome this hazard.

Many riders successfully avoid these hazards, but in some cases, riders become hazards themselves when they brake or swerve too fast. So when going over a maintenance hole cover, remain loose on the bars, keep your lower body firm on the seat, and maintain a steady throttle as you ride over it.

Chris

Content manager and writer for MotorcycleAccident.org