Haim Deri talks about engendering safety in a new generation of motorcyclists

Haim Deri talks about engendering safety in a new generation of motorcyclists
Haim Deri, owner of Motorcycle License School. Photo: Supplied

Haim Deri, owner of Motorcycle License School, has seen and done a lot on the back of 2 wheels. His license school has operated in Holon, Israel for over 40 years, and throughout that time he has instructed countless people, young and old, in how to safely get their motorbike license.

We took the opportunity to ask this experienced motorcycle teacher about the challenges he has faced and what he foresees for the future.

Over the 40+ years you have operated your license school, what’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in successive generations of riders?

I get asked this question a lot because people expect to hear that this generation is so much more reckless and stupid that previous ones. The truth is, a motorbike license attracts many different types of people, and some are naturally more reckless than others.

I will say that I have noticed today’s young people are less patient and seem to expect to make progress much faster than they realistically can. I think this generation perhaps does not accept failure as well and this causes them to become overconfident, and overconfidence can be deadly on a motorcycle.

As a motorcycle teacher, what’s the one thing you wish more people were aware of in regards to bikes?

I don’t expect people without a motorcycle license to be aware of anything until I instruct them in it. As a motorcycle teacher, I always start assuming my students are totally ignorant of everything bike related so that I can keep my approach uniform.

Regarding other motorists, I would like to see more awareness campaigns reminding car and truck drivers to keep an eye out for riders and be extra careful when driving near them. A large majority of accidents and deaths of riders are caused by other drivers running into them, and no matter how much protective gear they wear, riders are at the mercy of other road users a lot of the time.

What are some of the most important safety tips you would want new riders to be aware of?

ALWAYS wear protective gear and watch out for the cars around you. It’s silly how many new riders, especially young men, think they are invincible and ride with only a helmet to protect them.

Regarding actual riding techniques, I would simply ask riders to be aware of their skill level and to not perform stunts they have no practise in. Lots of people hurt themselves and destroy their bikes attempting advanced tricks (like wheelies) while they are still beginners.

The main thing to understand is that bikes are inherently more dangerous to use than cars and you are putting yourself at a much higher risk of injury or death by using one. If you accept this risk, then you should also do as much as you can to minimise it so that you can keep yourself and other road users safe. It’s a shared responsibility.

What have been the biggest changes you have had to make to your motorcycle license school over the years? What do you predict for the future?

Changes in the law over the decades have definitely changed the way in which I teach my students as a motorcycle teacher. For a long time I taught my students not to use their mobile phones while riding, but now the law enables them to use hands-free talking devices, meaning that I have to train my students accepting that they will be using their phones while riding.

For the future, I see new technology making riding safer and more accessible to people as a means of convenient transport, such as new automatic braking systems. I believe less cars is a good thing, especially in urban areas where bikes are much better for navigating the environment and taking up less space in parking spots.