9 Smart Tips on How to Stay Safe Riding a Motorcycle
Motorcycles are fun. They're also dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 5,000 people die in motorcycle crashes each year. Motorcycles are smaller vehicles that have less protection than cars, which means riders are more vulnerable to injury in the event of an accident.
Why are motorcycle crashes fatal?
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 34. Motorcycle deaths account for about 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. And according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle accidents have been on the rise since 2006 — with an estimated 4,612 motorcyclists dying in 2015 alone.
Motor vehicle crashes are particularly dangerous because they are twice as likely to result in a fatality than car accidents. If you are a victim of a motorcycle accident because of another driver's negligence, then hiring a motorcycle accident attorney will help you get the compensation you need to recover.
Below are several reasons why motorcycle crashes are fatal:
- Motorcycles have less protection than cars and trucks.
Motorcycles don't have seat belts or airbags. If you're in an accident on a motorcycle, there's a greater chance that you'll hit your head or neck on the pavement or other hard surfaces after the impact. The lack of protection also means that if you're thrown from your bike, it's harder for others to see you as they drive by, increasing the chances of being run over by another vehicle as well as making it more difficult for emergency responders to help you if needed.
- Lack of driving skills.
Motorcycle riders aren't always trained well enough to handle their bikes in all types of weather conditions — even though weather conditions can change quickly while riding a motorcycle, especially when going fast on curvy roads with hills and slopes. Some riders may not even know how to operate their bikes properly or what safety features they should use while riding at night — such as turning on headlights and rear lights.
- Some riders skip wearing helmets.
A study published in 2012 by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that helmetless motorcyclists were twice as likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries in an accident compared with helmeted riders. Riders without helmets were also three times more likely to suffer serious neck injuries than those who wore helmets at the time of their accident. The good news is that you can do a lot to minimize your risk of getting hurt.
Tips To Stay Safe Riding a Motorcycle
If you're riding a motorcycle, buckle your helmet and be prepared. If you have to ride in harsh weather conditions, consider purchasing gear to help protect you. And if you encounter an accident, know what to do and who to contact like a motorcycle accident attorney.
Here are nine smart tips on how to stay safe riding a motorcycle:
Wear a helmet and protective gear
Wear protective gear like a helmet and boots that cover the ankle. Helmets are required by law in many states, but they can still be life savers even if they aren't required. It's also important to make sure the helmet fits properly — it should sit level on your head and not be tilted back or forward.
Use your headlight at night
Always use your headlights at night — they're more effective than regular lights at making you visible to other drivers. You should also turn on high beam headlights when possible because they're more effective than dimmer lights at helping other drivers see you coming around corners or changing lanes.
Make sure your bike is in good shape before hitting the road
It's important to make sure your bike is in good working order before hitting the road — if anything seems out of place, get it checked by a professional mechanic before heading out on the road.
Don't drink and drive! Drinking alcohol before getting on your bike can impair your judgment and make it harder for you to react quickly and safely in an emergency situation.
Avoid riding after dark
Riding at night increases your risk of being involved in an accident because you can't see as well as during the day (especially if it's foggy or rainy). If there's no way around riding at night, make sure you have lights on your bike so others know where you are going.
Know your limits
Don't go over your head by trying to ride beyond what's safe for you — stick with what you know so that if something does happen while riding, you're prepared for it.
Use your signals
Practice basic safety procedures such as signaling when turning or stopping. It may seem like common sense but many riders forget to signal before executing these actions which can result in accidents if there are other vehicles nearby that fail to see their signals due to distraction or other factors related to driving safely.
An easy way to avoid getting hit by another vehicle is to make sure that other drivers see you before they try to pass you or turn into your path. Wear bright colors when possible, especially at night when visibility is low. Your motorcycle should have reflective material placed on its sides so that other drivers can see its silhouette at night — this could be enough to prevent an accident even without other lights or reflectors installed on the bike itself.
Practice defensive driving techniques
Be aware of your surroundings at all times while riding, especially at intersections and when entering traffic from side streets or parking lots where vehicles may be turning into your path. Always check mirrors before changing lanes or making turns so you don't cut off another driver or cyclist who might be following behind you. Lastly, be aware that conditions such as rain, fog, and other weather conditions can compromise visibility or make roads slippery, which can lead to crashes if proper precautions aren't taken beforehand by both drivers.
Your Road Safety Matters
Riding a motorcycle can be incredibly fun, especially when you learn to do it safely. Hopefully, this article and its tips will help you stay safe on the road and reduce your odds of being involved in an accident. Of course, there's only so much that any article can do. No matter how many precautions you take, accidents—even serious ones—can still happen. Whether you're driving or riding a motorcycle yourself, take care out there on the roads.