Defensive riding

Defensive riding – sometimes called planned riding – is about using observation, anticipation and control to help you be prepared for the unexpected.

Make sure you are always in control of your motorbike and ride

  • at the correct speed
  • in the correct gear
  • in the correct position on the road.

You should also drive with

  • responsibility
  • care
  • consideration and courtesy.

Keeping a safe separation distance between you and the vehicle in front will give you time to stop safely if you need to. See Communicating with other road users for more information on separation distances.

When you’re riding, your safety is mainly in your control so it’s important to ride assertively: take a clear position on the road and make sure other road users can see and understand what you’re doing.

However, this does not mean being aggressive. Your riding should not upset other road users or create dangerous situations. Always try to show patience and anticipation.

As you gain more riding experience, your ability to ride safely and responsibly should improve. Remember to keep checking what’s covered in DVSA’s riding standards (GOV.UK) to see how you’re improving and where you may need more practice or instruction.

Separation distances

One of the most effective ways of keeping yourself and other road users safe is to keep a safe separation distance between you and the vehicle in front: this will allow you to stop in time if the vehicle in front stops suddenly.

Your stopping distance depends on lots of factors, including

  • the speed at which you’re travelling
  • the road and weather conditions
  • the condition of your motorbike’s brakes and tyres.

See the stopping distances guide in The Highway Code (GOV.UK).

In good, dry conditions, leave a 2-second gap between you and the vehicle in front.

Traffic and weather conditions can affect other road users so be especially aware of others when traffic is heavy or the weather is bad. For example

  • it might be harder for you to see cyclists and motorcyclists in bad weather or heavy traffic, and for other road users to see you
  • windy weather might blow you or them off course.

Allow them extra space in these conditions.

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