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Only so much defense a motorcyclist can practice on Dixie Hwy

We don't know if the value of defensive driving is something everyone in Kentucky is taught when learning to drive. Many instructors would likely agree that it should be. The tenets of defensive driving are important for general motorist safety. They are even more essential for motorcyclists.

It is a fact that motorcycle riding is riskier than driving. The chances of an accident are greater than in a car or truck, and the chance of suffering a catastrophic injury is greater because cyclists lack the level of protective gear that federal law mandates for other vehicles.

How roads are laid out adds to the risk and roads around Louisville have a reputation in this regard. Indeed, the Courier-Journal recently ran a story highlighting how various neighborhoods are recording upticks in congestion.

For those who may not be familiar with defensive driving, here is a list of tips many experts consider fundamental:

  • Take the long view. Humans have limitations. We aren't inclined to look more than a few hundred feet in front of us. That can get you killed driving or riding a motorcycle at speeds greater than 15 mph. Looking as far down the road as you can gives you better situational awareness and time to respond to trouble.
  • Keep your eyes moving. Regularly looking around you, including checks of your mirrors, keeps you aware of possible hazards in your immediate area.
  • Anticipate the need for an escape. Don't get obsessive about this. Do try to develop the practice. If you happen to be in congested traffic, consider what evasive action might be needed if the vehicle in front of you loses a wheel or slams on the brakes.
  • Maintain safe distances. Nose to trunk or trailer is the way vehicles often move down the road. In the best of road conditions, keeping at least a two-second gap between yourself and the next vehicle is a good rule of thumb. In bad weather, make it six seconds or more.
  • Limit distractions. Gadgets today are as prevalent in motorcycle riding as they are in cars. They're not healthy wherever they're in use. Some distractions are outside of our control. Those we can control, we should.

Let's be defensive so we all stay safer.

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