Driver fatigue is still a huge threat when it comes to motorcycle safety, with the risk of a terrible, possibly fatal accident occurring if you fall asleep riding your motorcycle.
Car and truck drivers are perhaps more at risk, due to longer stints behind the wheel, being sat in a comfortable enclosed space, with options for cruise control and soothing audio. However, motorbike riders still fall victim to fatigue – with this in mind, here are some tips to help you stay awake, and stay safe.
Before You Ride
It sounds obvious, but before you even begin to start your journey it’s essential that you’re well rested, so be sure to get enough sleep the night before. If you’re planning a motorcycle trip that will take a number of days, then set a departure time that isn’t too early.
Don’t stay up late, or drinking the night before any ride, as you will still be feeling the effects in the morning – this won’t only affect your safety but the safety of others on the road.
Consider taking your motorcycle trip with a small group, as always riding long distances by yourself can lead to loss of concentration. If the group is too large then this can also encourage you to switch off whilst riding.
Plan Your Route
When deciding on your route, you’ll no doubt prefer a more interesting option than just a simple straight road – preferring curious side streets, and roads that twist and turn amidst eye-catching scenery. This will help keep you focused, as it will all require more mental concentration, increased steering, gear changes and brake applications.
Make sure that you map out all the stops along your planned journey, and always be aware of the distances between them – don’t overexert yourself. Keep in mind that if you’re riding with a group, some may not have the same stamina as others – allocate stops to cater for them.
Food And Hydration
It sounds simple, but always make sure to drink plenty of water, and fruit juices in order to stay hydrated and top up your vitamins and minerals – also try to eat smaller, more frequent meals.
Keeping well hydrated, especially when exposed to the elements, will allow you to avoid dizziness and confusion, whilst keeping your bodily motor skills on point. Eating smaller portions and avoiding big heavy meals, high in carbohydrates, will prevent your body having to slow down digesting the food – which will negatively impact your reactions.
Steer clear of any caffeine filled, alcoholic or sugary drinks as they will all ultimately lead to a bodily crash and sleepiness. Drink alcohol in moderation at any overnight stops, to make sure it doesn’t disturb the quality of your sleep.
Stop, Listen And Engage
Take more frequent stops during your journey – at least one every couple of hours or so. As it gets a little late in the afternoon or evening, ensure that your stops are a little longer, as this is when you’ll start to feel the most fatigued. It’s best to time your route so that you finish a stint around evening time, getting to your destination before it gets too late and dark.
If you listen to music whilst on your motorcycle, try playing something fairly upbeat and loud to help keep your concentration. Wearing a full-face helmet, earplugs, and making use of a windscreen on your bike will all help to avoid tiredness due to wind noise, which can be a big cause of rider fatigue.
Keep yourself engaged with other riders in your group – consider a communication system to speak to each other as this will help you stay mentally alert.
Mix Up Your Riding
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that constantly travelling at a high speed will keep you alert, it won’t – it’s always better to vary your speeds throughout your journey.
Avoid sitting behind other road users for long lengths of time, as staying behind a vehicle can cause you to focus on the back of them and send you to sleep. if it’s safe to pass them then do so as this will stimulate your senses and shake off fatigue.
Stretch And Move Your Body
Any long bike journeys can be an endurance test, so keeping your body fit and healthy through exercise can definitely help with motorcycle safety.
Potential risks due to fatigue can be mitigated with some simple stretching exercises. If you’re feeling stiff whilst riding, take a rest stop and do some light exercise. Stretch your limbs and maybe even go for a short walk to get your blood flowing again, don’t forget you’ve been sitting for some time.
If you’re experiencing any cramp or muscle pain, consider heat creams containing ibuprofen, to dilate the muscle, increase blood flow, and help it heal.