Riding your motorcycle can be a hazardous occupation at the best of times, but when you head abroad and tackle an entirely new sets of roads and laws it can become even more challenging. For U.S. riders there are few venues more daunting than the UK, quite simply because there remain such significant differences between the 2 nations, their roads and the basic laws that govern them. If you and your motorcycle are planning a trip to the UK any time soon, then it is well worth considering the basics of road travel and safety when abroad.
Be Sure to Drive on the Left Side of the Road
This may sound obvious, but when you are used to driving in a single country even the slightest change can disorientate you. While all U.S. vehicles and motorcycles drive on the right hand side of the road, the trend is reversed in the UK where traffic must remain on the left hand side. This can take a great deal of time to get used to, and there is not one native U.S. drive or rider who has made the trip to the UK without having a tale to tell about getting caught on the wrong side of the road.
The UK roads themselves pose another danger to U.S. motorcyclists, who are used to long, straight highways and vast stretches of road. The UK’s roads are far more compact, and offer a great deal more twists and turns as you attempt to get from A to B. This can be something of a test for motorcyclists visiting the UK for the first time, who must be alert and vigilant when heading towards turnings and crossings. So for those of you are expecting straight roads as built by the Romans, you are likely to be as disappointed as you are challenged.
Why Common Sense Remains the Motorcyclists Greatest Protection
Of course there are other more subtle differences when it comes to riding in the UK, and it is important that you obtain a copy of the national Highway Code before or during your visit. In the UK these can be obtained from the DVLA (Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency) and numerous retail stores, and provide a comprehensive overview of the signs that adorn the nations streets. This small action can make a significant difference, and help protect you against the dangers of unknown roads and sidewalks.
However, whether you are traveling on the roads at home or overseas, it is common sense that remains your greatest tool in protecting yourself. This dictates that you should wear protective at all times, including a shark helmet, gloves, jacket and body armour for the back and neck. UK law certainly stipulates that riders must wear a helmet at all times while traveling, and alternative protective clothing simply provides you with greater reassurance in the event of an accident. What is important is that you select clothing and accessories which are comfortable to wear as well as being practical, especially for those long journey’s throughout the UK countryside.