May 17th 2005.
National insurance specialist, Quoteline Direct, has issued a five-point guide to safe riding.
Graham Higgins, at Quoteline Direct, said: "Bikers get caught up in more accidents and, in many cases, they're the innocent party - at the mercy of other impatient and discourteous motorists. It makes sense to practice defensive motorcycling."
1. Talk to yourself as you ride. Your running commentary will force you to focus on the dangers around you.
2. Give yourself time and space. Hang back to give yourself a good view of the road ahead. In this way you can make sensible passing manoeuvres and avoid running into dead ends by being impatient and making snap decisions. Don't sacrifice your own safety and that of others racing to meet a deadline. Show patience and restraint and you're more likely to spot the shortcuts and make good time.
3. Know when to brake. Practicing your emergency stop may sound excessive, but, if you're met with an emergency, you need to know how to react quickly and safely. Whether you have a new bike or have simply changed your brake pads, you need to ensure that you bed your brakes in and learn how they respond.  Practice on wet and dry surfaces.
4. Know when not to brake. Your instinct may tell you to hit the brakes but, in some emergency situations, this may be the worst course of action. Hitting the brakes hard, particularly at high speeds, will often take you screeching ahead, usually into the very thing you're trying to avoid. Your best route out of trouble is often not stopping but changing direction. Bikes are fairly small, can change direction quickly and fit through small gaps, making them nippy in tight situations.
5. Learn to observe. Finally, check your mirrors regularly, stay alert, and actively scan for hazards rather than following the vehicle in front. This will ensure that you don't get taken by surprise and have more time to react to unexpected situations. 
Quoteline Direct can be contacted on www.quoteline.co.uk or 0870 444 4844.