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Riding safely in a group takes planning and teamwork

If you're used to riding your motorcycle alone, you may be surprised by how much different it is to ride with a group. You might think there is safety in numbers because you're less likely to be hit by a driver who doesn't see you.

However, riding as a group presents a whole other set of risks if everyone isn't careful. Let's look at some things you can do to help everyone stay safe on a group ride.

Before the ride

Be prepared. Everyone should have a full gas tank and a phone. Determine who will bring tools, first-aid supplies and other items, like food or water, that the group may want or need.

Plan your ride. Get everyone together to decide where you're going, what route you're taking and where you'll stop for breaks. Consider what your least experienced rider can do. Don't take a route that's too difficult for them.

Determine your riding order and formation. Typically, the most experienced biker or the one who knows the area best is the lead rider. They alert the others to anything that could cause a problem, from a traffic jam to storm clouds. Also, decide who will be the sweep rider who stays at the back and sets the pace. It's best to decide where everyone else will be in your line-up, with the least-experienced rider typically just behind the leader.

On the ride

Except in certain areas, including winding roads and highway entrances, it's usually best to stagger your formation between the left and right side of the lane rather than directly behind one another. You want to stay relatively close to the riders ahead of you, but at least a second apart.

Remain in formation when you pass a vehicle. Pass one at a time, returning to your previous place in the designated formation.

Don't try to race or outdo another rider. Whether it's someone in your group or another rider you see along the way, don't "go rogue." Stay in your formation. This isn't a competition.

Just because you're in a group, don't assume that you're safe from motorists. Some drivers become fearful when they see a group of motorcyclists, assuming that they're some kind of "biker gang." This can cause them to do reckless things. If you're injured by a driver (or another motorcyclist), make sure that you get the compensation you need.

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