Renting a motorcycle or scooter abroad is an excellent way for holidaymakers to stray off the well-worn, touristy track and explore what a country really has to offer. The freedom of being able to go where you want to, when you want to, will improve your holiday experience massively. No longer will you have to endure excursions that involve 10-hour coach trips and ‘meet up’ times because your holiday schedule will have opened up!
However, motorcycle accidents and other traffic collisions abroad are a big concern for The Foreign Office. They recently released figures for road accidents in Thailand and as many as 9,205 deaths occurred on the roads in 2011, compared with just 1,901 road deaths in Britain over the same year. Motorcycles are noted as a big concern by The Foreign Office, as very little in the way of physical protection is available for people on motorcycles and scooters.
This article will outline some of those safety concerns and will offer advice for how you can have fun and ride a motorcycle or scooter safely abroad.
Have A Licence
Whichever country you are visiting, make sure that you have an adequate driving licence. In some places you may be ok with your UK driving licence; however some countries may want you apply for international drivers permit.
Have The Right Insurance
Make sure that your travel insurance policy covers hiring vehicles abroad. Some may be limited to just scooters for example, so make sure that you compare deals to get the right policy for your needs, including quality accident cover, should you face a medical emergency on your travels.
Do Your Research
Research the driving laws of the place you are visiting beforehand and makes sure you are aware of any differences to laws, road conditions and the conduct of other road users there. You may not be fully prepared for the reality of the roads in India, for instance, but at least it won’t come as complete shock to you when you first get out there.
Check The Rental Company
Always hire your motorcycle or scooter from a reputable dealer by checking that they are officially licenced to rent out vehicles. Seek out the names of some good hire companies in the area you are visiting before your holiday. Also make sure that you have their contact details with you at all times when you are out and about on your bike.
Choose The Right Vehicle
When selecting your motorbike/scooter for hire make sure that it is an appropriate choice for your level of experience. You may want the biggest and fastest bike available, but these should only be hired by people who have full motorcycle licences at home and years of experience. If you have little experience on a bike then you should start with a small one of 50ccs or 125cc. A 50cc scoter will reach a maximum of 30 mph and will really struggle with hills. A 125cc goes to 60mph at top speed and has a bit more power behind it, allowing you to cruise up and down slopes with a passenger on the back.
Wear A Helmet
Always wear a helmet and protective clothing when you are hiring a motorcycle abroad, even if the law doesn’t stipulate that you need to wear one. Your safety should be your number one priority, even if you stand out amongst other road users.
Inspect the Bike/Scooter
Some hire companies may stipulate that the vehicles must be returned in ‘pristine condition,’ this means that before you leave, examine the bodywork for any scratches and dents to avoid getting caught out and charged for damage you didn’t cause.
One of the things you will quickly need to get to grips with when hiring a motorcycle/scooter abroad is braking safely. Do not snatch the front brake too hard or too quickly because doing so may cause the front wheel to lock and throw you off the side or over the front of the bike. Squeeze both brakes gently to come to an even standstill, but on the whole, drive slowly and carefully, especially around corners.
Watch Other Road Users But Don’t Copy Them
Give other road users plenty of space and be on your highest alert when riding in a foreign country. You are not immune from danger because you are enjoying yourself on holiday, so don’t try to keep up with locals or imitate their bad driving habits.
Take Notice Of Your Environment
If the weather is very hot, take regular breaks and keep yourself hydrated. Similarly, if the heavens open and you are facing heavy rain and poor visibility, it is advisable that you skip hiring motorbikes for the day, for your own safety.
Be Prepared Should The Worst Happen
Motorcycles account for only 1% of Britain’s road traffic, yet 22% of all serious accidents and fatalities involve a motorcycle or scooter. This is because bikes offer less physical protection and are harder to spot by other road users. However, this doesn’t mean that motorcyclists are to blame for all of those accidents. Motorbike accident compensation can be awarded to those affected if you encountered negligent drivers around you, objects in the road and other hazards. So don’t assume that because you were on holiday, protection and compensation isn’t out there because a good injury solicitor may be able to help you.
Hiring your own motor vehicle abroad is an invigorating experience that can make your time away even more memorable. But make sure that it is memorable for the right reasons by making sure that you maintain your safety when driving abroad.