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On the road: Conditions that threaten motorcycle safety

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Road conditions in Virginia that may be perfectly safe for commercial and passenger vehicles could pose serious risks to motorcyclists. While avoiding these altogether may be an option sometimes, anyone who is operating a motorcycle should know what to do when faced with less than favorable road surfaces. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, riders should plan ahead and check routes for construction or other potential dangerous road conditions. In these areas, hazard signs should be posted, and riders should be familiar with their meanings.

When there are uneven surfaces such as bridge expansion joints or open joints, the rider may be at risk for losing traction due to the bump on the surface of the bridge, particularly if it is wet. A motorcycle operator may also have difficulty controlling the bike if part of the pavement has been removed as preparation for resurfacing. The rough texture is likely to create traction difficulties, as is gravel or debris in the road.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles explains that a rider can offset some of the danger these conditions cause with defensive operating techniques. For example, going over a bump may not be as difficult if the operator supports his or her weight on the foot pegs rather than the seat to prevent the jolt from having as much of an effect. Keeping the bike upright and slowing down can also reduce the impact and improve traction.

While a grated road surface causes the motorcycle to shake, the operator should maintain a straight course rather than angling to reduce the feeling that the bike is wandering in the lane. Zigzag movements reduce control, even though it may seem otherwise.

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