Office of Traffic Safety

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Riding Strategies

Five Key Points to Safe Riding  


Assume you are invisible to other drivers.

Don’t ever assume another driver knows you’re there. Adhere to the attitude that no one else on the road is concerned with your personal safety. Learn to use a riding strategy like SEE (search, evaluate, execute) to manage the roadway and traffic. You can learn SEE in a basic or advanced training course.

Look where you want to go.

It’s called visual directional control. Keep your head and eyes oriented 3-4 seconds ahead of you when cornering. You can get instruction and practice in this technique in a basic or advanced training course. In an emergency, do not stare at the guardrail, the gravel shoulder or the oncoming car –– chances are you’ll hit whatever you’re trying to avoid. (The term for this is target fixation.)



Use precise inputs to the handgrips, not body lean, to lean the motorcycle. When you countersteer, you initially turn the handlebars in the opposite direction you think you should. Press forward on the right handgrip, the bike leans right. Press forward on the left handgrip, the bike leans left. (Note: countersteering is not how you turn a motorcycle; it’s how you lean a motorcycle.) You can learn to use this technique in a controlled setting by taking a basic or advanced training course.

Use both brakes.

Your front brake provides 70 percent or more of your stopping power in an emergency. Squeeze , do not grab, the front brake, and keep squeezing, increasing the squeezing pressure until you’ve slowed sufficiently or stopped. Untrained riders are often afraid to use the front brake, for fear of flipping over. Trained riders know better. You can learn how to use your front brake for maximum braking in a basic or advanced training course.

Never stop riding the bike.

Don’t ever give up control of your motorcycle. “Laying it down” is not a strategy. The person with the most control of any situation is you. Look where you want to go, countersteer or use maximum braking to avoid a crash. You can get instruction and practice in all these techniques by taking a basic or advanced training course.

Group Riding Tips


Arrive Prepared.

Arrive on time with a full tank of gas.

Hold a Rider's Meeting.

Discuss things like the route, rest and fuel stops, and hand signals. Assign a lead and sweep (tail) rider. Both should be experienced riders who are well-versed in group riding procedures. The leader should assess everyone's riding skills and the group's riding style.

Keep the Group to a Manageable Size.

Ideally five to seven riders. If necessary, break the group into smaller sub-groups, each with a lead and sweep rider.

Ride Prepared.

At least one rider in each group should pack a cell phone, first-aid kit and full tool kit, so the group is prepared for any problem that they might encounter.

Ride in Formation.

The staggered formation allows a proper space cushion between motorcycles so that each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards. The leader rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least one second behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the group follows the same pattern. A single-file formation is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.

Periodically Check the Riders Following in your Rear View Mirror.

If you see a rider falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all riders in the group use this technique, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch up.
For a copy of these tips, order a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Quick Tips, a Guide to Group Riding brochure.  

Encountering an Animal  

Slow Down. 

Animals are unpredictable, so be prepared. Slow down well before you reach an animal. Use your horn.
If a dog is chasing you and it looks like it will intercept you, slow until the dog adjusts its point of interception, then speed up quickly to throw off the dog's timing.

Use Both Brakes to Stop.

If a larger animal, like a deer, jumps out in front of you, use emergency braking (applying both front and rear brakes) to stop as quickly as possible.
If you are unable to stop in time and/or contact is imminent after maximum braking, and you have room in the lane, release your brakes and attempt to swerve behind the animal. If you do not have enough room to swerve and stay on the road, keep your eyes up and make sure the motorcycle is as stable as possible upon impact.

Upward Trend

In the past decade, fatal deer-motorcycles collisions have gone up by nearly five times than the previous decade. Review the stats from the past 22 years in this infographic.​