Everybody learns how to execute emergency braking properly at riding school, but it’s not exactly in an actual emergency scenario where the rider needs to react without having any time to think. It is arguably the most important skill you need as a rider to ride safely in an open road. Here are the do's and don’ts to follow for emergency braking:
- Squeezing the Brakes
Do: Even in an emergency, try your best to gradually squeeze the levers. This will progressively transfer the weight of the bike to the front wheel, giving the rider more control. Having ABS on your bike will allow you to squeeze harder a little faster without the repercussions.
Don’t: Never ever dramatically squeeze the level, especially for bikes that don’t have ABS. This will cause the tires to lock up and subsequently throw the bike’s orientation off, very likely resulting the rider skidding or completely lose control of the bike and crash.
Deceleration > Sudden Stop
- Using the Brakes Correctly
Do: Use both brakes. Practice makes perfect. It can be a little difficult to coordinate your foot and hand in an emergency situation, so get plenty of tries before going on the open road. Using both brakes will allow the weight of drastic braking to be somewhat evenly distributed between the front and rear of the motorcycle before translating to the front. This gives better overall control.
Don’t: Don’t use only one brake. At high speed riding, squeezing only one tire can and will result in a split second loss of control which will turn into complete loss of control. The rear brakes are usually more powerful than the front brakes so using only the rear will reduce traction in the rear tire, and using only the front brakes will cause the bike to either flip over or get thrown off.
- Traffic Awareness
Do: Be constantly aware of your surrounding vehicles. To be on the safe side, try to avoid splitting lanes but if you are comfortable with splitting lanes, you will need a lot more awareness especially from vehicles switching lanes. When in emergency braking, you should already know where and how to maneuver your bike because you don’t want to end up swerving into another vehicle or getting hit from the back.
Don’t: Motorcycle riders are the most vulnerable road users. So don’t let other vehicles bully you into losing control of your riding. Always stay in control by staying out of possible road trouble. Be authoritative and confident with your safety.
- Practice Makes Perfect
Do: Plenty of practice. Motorbikes normally have excellent braking abilities but have a higher tendency to lose control. Before taking on the open road, look for an empty road or parking area and practice your braking coordination. Do this from time to time so you don’t forget the coordination.
Don’t: Believing that what you learned at riding school is good enough is a big no. As mentioned earlier, riding school wasn’t real life scenario. If you own an expensive sophisticated bike, don’t take for granted your bike’s safety features. Nothing is good enough unless you know how to fully control it.
- Brake All the Way
Do: Once you have reached the maximum threshold of your brakes during emergency braking, continue squeezing the brakes. Although you may lose control of the bike a little and have your heart in your throat, remember that the lower the speed the smaller the crash. You need to get your speed down as low as possible, and trust that you can control your bike better.
Don’t: Letting go of the brakes as you approach the potential crash is probably the worst idea ever. Bikes today come with all kinds of safety features. So believe that your bike is doing its job to keep you safe too. Don’t let go and keep braking while trying to control your bike. If you don’t have ABS, squeeze and release a little bit alternately to get similar effects to ABS.
With enough experience as a rider, you may be able to predict traffic movements but nobody is ever able to foresee human error. Most times emergency braking is needed because of the negligence of other road users. Hence, it’s best to learn and remember these do’s and don’ts to avoid any unwanted involvement in a road accident.