This one’s not a myth: riding a motorcycle can be very dangerous. 2019 statistics indicate that motorcycle and pillion riders account for 1 in 2 of all road fatalities in Singapore. And yet, a million cautionary tales later, here you are, helmet and all. We understand the convenience that your bike affords you, and certainly the high that comes with hurtling down the expressway with the wind in your arm hairs. But before you put foot to peg, here are 5 motorcycling myths that could cost you your life, and our tips to staying safe on Singapore’s roads.
#1 Loud pipes save lives
Motorcycle exhaust pipes being rear-facing, most of the noise is directed behind you – not the most useful when you’re trying to warn motorists in front that you are approaching. Even if they can hear you, it may be difficult to discern your relative position. Between this and the car stereo, drivers may not be as attentive to motorcyclists as you’d expect.
Perhaps it’s less about the pipes and more about the rider, but road accident statistics show that bikes with modified exhaust pipes crash more frequently than those with stock pipes. Evidently, loud exhaust pipes make poor replacement for safe riding habits.
#2 Drivers pay no attention to motorcyclists
Because driving and riding are very different skills, drivers unfamiliar with the motorcycle rulebook may not always know how to react to or watch for motorcyclists. Additionally, your bike is much smaller than a car, so the driver you’re approaching may have a hard time identifying the outline of a fast approaching bike.
Here’s how you can help. Dress in brighter colours when you ride and wear a motorcycle jacket with reflective strips to make you more visible at night. Give drivers who may not expect you a wide berth when passing by.
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#3 Helmets don’t really help in accidents
In Singapore, motorcycle helmet standards are regulated by the PSB test, the local equivalent of the US’ DOT Standard. In the event of an accident, helmets that pass this standard are designed to protect your head from vertical impact, meaning the distance your head falls before hitting the ground. That’s why wearing a PSB-compliant helmet means you’re more likely to survive the impact in the event of collision or fall. Helmets also provide eye protection and help screen out distracting wind noise, sharpening your focus on the roads.
Our advice: avoid paying a hefty fine by ensuring your helmet is PSB-compliant (check that it has the blue sticker of certification at the back), and choose a brightly coloured helmet to stay visible while riding.
#4 Lane splitting is more dangerous than staying in your lane
While illegal in some countries, lane splitting is not explicitly forbidden in Singapore, and thankfully so. Lane splitting refers to riding the lane dividers to overtake other vehicles, a common sight in Singapore’s daily traffic congestion. Interestingly, lane splitting in jams has been proven safer for motorcyclists than staying in their lanes. That’s because slow-moving stop-and-go traffic, while a mere annoyance to drivers, increases the likelihood of contact between vehicles which for motorcyclists could lead to disastrous consequences.
As you split lanes, exercise good judgement to ensure the available space is wide enough for you to pass, and keep an eye for drivers who may attempt to change lanes suddenly, even without signaling. Don’t be afraid to use your high beam and horn, even if it’s just to let drivers know where you are. And if travelling at high speeds, don’t split lanes.
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#5 If you’re going to crash, lay it down
You may have heard that sliding sideways on your bike can help you avoid hitting obstacles head-on and save your life. Don’t listen to the drama queens. Your wheels provide far more traction than the plastic and metal surfaces of your bike do with the road. Not to mention, you can sustain serious injury from being crushed by your bike, or from abrasion against the road.
Let’s be realistic. In the time it takes for you to put your bike on the ground, you’d probably be able to brake and swerve. That means braking hard on both wheels and trying as much as possible to avoid the obstacle. If however you are unable to avoid collision altogether, choose your impact point away from oncoming traffic and steer to collide sideways instead of head-on.
Riding a motorcycle is fun, but remember as you sputter off on your journey to keep your safety and the safety of other commuters in mind. At the end of the day, your life matters much more than your bike, and with your life safely intact, you’ll be free to go about the repairs your vehicle needs.
Information is accurate as at 14 February 2020. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K). Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.
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