Centre for Road Safety

Three-second gap

Scanning, setting up and buffering are three essential elements for safe motorcycle riding. A three-second crash avoidance space is needed to react and respond to situations in front of you. You should set up for any situation when there is potential for something to enter the space three seconds in front of your motorcycle.

Motorcycle riders face more dangers on the road than drivers. International research indicates that, per kilometre of vehicle travel, motorcycle riders are about 34 times more likely to be killed in a crash than vehicle occupants.


Scanning involves constantly moving your eyes to collect as much information as possible about your riding environment. When scanning, keep your eyes moving, check in one area for a couple of seconds, then move your eyes to another area.

Look in the distance, to the sides, at the condition of the road and regularly check your mirrors and instruments.

Scan for hazards. Slow down. Move away from hazards

Setting up

Setting up means applying your brakes lightly as you approach potential hazards. This can greatly reduce your response time and stopping distance. Setting up has three key benefits:

  • It prepares the rider – you have recognised the hazard and decided on a course of action. If needed, you will be able to respond quickly and with more control.
  • It prepares the motorcycle – free play in the brakes is taken up, the suspension is compressed, the contact patch of the tyres is flattening, the motorcycle is ready for hard braking if needed.
  • It prepares the vehicle behind – when you set up your brake light comes on, alerting the driver behind that you may be about to brake hard.


Buffering is positioning your bike to create maximum space around you, away from hazards. Moving away from danger may also increase the likelihood that you’ll be seen by other vehicles.

  • Slow down and buffer near intersections where a vehicle could enter your lane or turn across your path.
  • On blind crests create a buffer away from possible oncoming traffic.