Using Your Vision for Motorcycle Safety

It isn’t news to anyone that you have to use your eyes to drive a motorcycle. However, riding a motorcycle requires a different type of driving that requires you to use vision in a more purposeful manner. Using your vision for motorcycle safety means actively seeking out hazards that can come from any direction. 

The vision required for a safe motorcycle ride must be acute, responsive, and adaptive. A split-second lapse in attention can result in a dangerous accident. Driving a motorcycle doesn’t have to be dangerous. If it was inherently dangerous, not as many people would do it. However, drivers must use their vision for motorcycle safety, and this differs from driving a passenger vehicle. 

Visual Direction Control

When you take a motorcycle driving course, you’ll learn to look in the direction you want to go.  A lot of riding turns out to be instinctual. If you look where you want to go, you tend to lean in a way that directs the bike. 

Visual direction control can be particularly helpful when navigating a corner. First, you want to slow down to a speed that allows you to increase throttle when you are halfway through the curve. As you turn, you want to press the handlebar on the side in which you are turning. A new rider may have difficulty doing this at first because it seems counterintuitive, but that is how to turn. You don’t simply turn into the curve. This is also why visual direction control helps. If it doesn’t feel natural, you can help your body perform correctly by looking in the direction you want to go. 

Visual direction control is a true phenomenon when driving a passenger vehicle as well. You may have been told not to look at the headlights of oncoming traffic. This is because you may accidentally end up driving toward them. Although visual direction control is a very important thing to understand, this is not the same as scanning. Visual direction control is mostly for navigation purposes. It doesn’t necessarily help you to avoid hazards. 


All motorcyclists should have some inclination that they need to be constantly scanning the roadway and the external environment for hazards. However, studies suggest that the ability to scan effectively improves with experience.

The novice rider actually scans too much and is unable to prioritize scanning for hazards over other non-hazardous environmental elements. “Driving-relevant glances,” are essential to motorcycle safety, but the new driver tends to focus too much on things that don’t have an impact on his or her ride. 

More experienced drivers are able to de-prioritize the expected and focus on the unexpected. On a country road, a rider may be able to relax some when there is no traffic. However, he or she must always scan. This is because they must still watch out for fallen trees, wildlife, and roads that are rough or graveled. 

In the city (or busy freeways), scanning means not only paying attention to the drivers around you. It also means using your peripheral vision to note that there are no accidents headed in your direction. A rollover or spinning vehicle may cross multiple lanes of traffic. An aggressive driver can also present multiple problems as he or she crosses lanes at a high rate of speed. 

Not every accident can be avoided, but seeing accidents or hazards before they are upon you increases safety. It gives you a chance to avoid or position yourself to reduce the risk of injury. 

Defensive Driving for Motorcycle Safety

One thing that coincides with using your vision for motorcycle safety is defensive driving. The reason you must constantly scan and look in the direction you are going is because you want to be able to drive as defensively as possible. 

If you’ve been in a vehicle with an aggressive driver, you know the opposite of defensive driving. Aggressive driving is tailgating when approaching a slower driver. It is erratically swerving in and out of traffic. It reduces all chances of navigating out of an unexpected situation. 

In contrast, defensive driving assumes that everybody is out to get you. The perfectly normal-appearing and calmly driving vehicle next to you could be a person about to experience a healthy event. The person behind you may be arguing on the telephone. A hillside could slough off in a landslide. This may be a little extreme, but imagining the worst helps to prepare for all situations. 

This doesn’t mean that you should drive in fear. In fact, it means that you don’t have to fear those things happening so much because you are constantly planning a way out. 

Defensive driving is a must when on a motorcycle because you don’t have the protection of a passenger vehicle. Motorcyclists who do not practice defensive driving are MUCH more likely to suffer a motorcycle accident. 

Crash Avoidance Using Vision for Motorcycle Safety

Ultimately, you are always trying to avoid a crash when you are riding a motorcycle. This is true even when you are out for a joyride. The vulnerability of being on a bike changes the act of driving. If you talk to experienced riders, they’ll tell you stories of crash avoidance. 

They’ll also tell you stories where they suffered close calls because they didn’t use their vision for motorcycle safety. Not noticing vehicles taking left turns have placed many bikers in severe braking situations. It doesn’t feel good to feel your left wheel come up off the ground as you try to make an abrupt stop. It is worse if you have to lay down your bike and slide to an area you can only hope is safe. Even worse is when neither of these things happen, and a collision is the end result. Crash avoidance means using your vision. If you see it coming, it is much easier to prepare and possibly avoid a wreck. 

Texting and Driving

Florida law prohibits texting and driving. However, this may be difficult for some motorcyclists to refrain from doing, as many mount their smartphones on their bike for navigational purposes. It is important to remember that texting and driving in any vehicle may be considered reckless driving. This is especially true if there is an accident. 

People who are unfamiliar with motorcycles may feel like it is completely absurd that anyone would text and ride. However, motorcyclists get complacent just like the drivers of any other automobile. We are all human, and we make mistakes. Unfortunately, texting while riding a motorcycle can be deadly just like in any other vehicle. Just don’t do it. 

Texting takes your eyes away from the road. It is impossible to use your vision for motorcycle safety if your vision is focused on your phone. Keep your head up, and continuously scan for hazards. It is the only way to ride safely. 

Not All Accidents Can Be Avoided

As stated previously, not all accidents can be avoided even if you use your vision appropriately while riding. However, you may be able to maneuver out of an accident with significantly less injury if you see it coming. You can also avoid any liability that you may have for negligent driving. 

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz for a consultation.

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