The South African Law on Motor Cycles and Use of Helmets
A motorcycle can prove to be the cheapest form of transport to travel to and from your destination. It is also efficient in areas of high traffic congestion, much cheaper than cars and can save you money on petrol. It is important for motorcyclists to take double caution when travelling on the road.
Motorcyclists should ensure that they wear safety helmets each time they ride the motorcycle. It is the most important protective gear you can wear while riding a motorcycle. The law require both drivers and passengers of motorized two-wheelers to wear helmets on all roads and regardless of engine type.
Helmet use is not a “fix-it-all” for motorcyclist safety, but in an accident, a helmet can help protect the head, your whole face, and your life.
The Arrive Alive Campaign, lists the following safety precautions that motorcyclists should follow. These include:
- Wearing an approved helmet that meets current safety standards.
- Wearing protective clothing.
- Wearing a full face helmet that protects your eyes and face.
- Being visible and wearing bright and reflective clothing.
- Always keeping the headlight on.
- Riding in a position that promotes visibility on the road and leaves enough room to move.
- Avoiding other vehicle’s blind spots.
- Driving defensively and being watchful of other vehicles turning ahead of you.
- Being aware of hazardous road conditions.
- Choosing the correct lane position and entering a curve slowly.
- Knowing your skill limits, the environment and your motorcycle.
- Using turn signals when changing lanes.
- Driving at an appropriate speed for prevailing circumstances.
- Taking refresher motorcyclist courses to upskill your abilities.
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between the lanes of a stationary or slow moving traffic or moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a traffic light.
Lane splitting is not illegal in South Africa, however there are safety precautions motorcyclists should follow to ensure their safety:
- Do not travel more the 20km/h faster than other traffic.
- Do not lane split if traffic is travelling faster than 50km/h.
- It is safer to lane split in lanes 1 and 2.
- Do not lane split near highway exits.
- Take note of your surroundings before lane splitting, such as the width of the lanes, size of surrounding vehicles, as well as roadway, weather, and lighting conditions.
- Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other road users.
- If you cannot fit, do not split.
Responsibility of the drivers of other vehicles
It is also the responsibility of the drivers of other vehicles to ensure the safety of motorcyclists. They have to be aware of motorcyclists at all times while on the road. Drivers should keep the following in mind when travelling on our roads:
- Be considerate and aware of motorcycles, especially at intersections.
- Maintain a safe following distance allowing sufficient space for motorcycles.
- Use signals to turn and be alert of oncoming motorcycles.
- Give motorcycles a full lane of travel.
- Check your blind spots when changing lanes.
- Turn signals are not self-cancelling on most motorcycles. Be sure you know what a motorcyclist is doing.