Motorcycles have a reputation for being dangerous. This is because of the way motorcycles are built, which are inherently more dangerous than vehicles. Rather than being wrapped in metal and surrounded by airbags, a motorcyclist sits on top of a seat out in the open with little to no cushion in case of an accident. In fact, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die than car drivers on average.
So how do you stay safe when driving a vehicle that seems totally dangerous?
Wear the Proper Safety Gear
In many fatal motorcycle accidents, the motorcyclists was not wearing the appropriate safety gear. While it’s tempting to shed your padded jacket to feel the nice breeze, this can lead to bad injuries or worse. Helmets are also critical and often left behind. Wear a helmet when you are riding a motorcycle, even if you are just riding down the street.
Search for reliable and highly rated safety gear such as helmets, jackets, gloves and other padding. Follow the correct steps in maintaining and replacing these items.
Maintain Proper Maintenance
Maintenance issues on a motorcycle can not only be inconvenient, but deadly. Do not ride the motorcycle if there is anything mechanically wrong with it. Be sure to have it serviced immediately and test it in the parking lot before you take it home.
Check the Motorcycle for Every Drive
This goes along with proper maintenance, but is something you can do simply while you are out and about. If you go to the store and come back to ride, make sure to check that everything is in working order. You should do this every single time you plan on riding, even if you have only been at your destination for a few minutes.
Check for any flat tires, oil spills, warning signals, fluid levels, your clutch and throttle, your breaks, clean and adjust your mirrors, etc. Mirrors can often get bumped or hit while your bike is parked, so make sure they are in the right position for you to see before you take off.
It is practically impossible to hold a cellphone while you are operating a motorcycle, but there are plenty of other distractions that can cause accidents on the road. Don’t be distracted by other cars, motorcycles or pedestrians. If playing music, play it low enough to hear honks and other warnings while you are driving.
Along with avoiding distractions, you should actively participate in defensive riding. This means paying attention to the road, using turn signals and looking out for everyone else on the road. Motorcycles can be hard to see, and other vehicles on the road often don’t pay attention. In fact, improper lane changes are one of the large causes of motorcycle crashes, as a car will veer into a lane because they didn’t see the motorcycle already there. Although it is impossible to control or predict every other driver’s move, it’s important to watch and anticipate movements to avoid a possible collision.
Do Not Speed
Speeding is the #1 reason for motorcycle accidents. It can be tempting to go fast on the highway and zip between slow cars to get to your destination, but it is also incredibly dangerous. With higher speeds, you have less control over your bike and less opportunity to stop. Follow the proper speed limits and avoid other vehicles on the road that are speeding.
Riding motorcycles while intoxicated unfortunately happens a lot. It is important to always know your limit and make sure you are sober before picking up your keys. If you have any doubt about your sobriety, do not drive. If you have been drinking or taking recreational drugs, do not ride. The same is said for anyone on the back. While intoxicated, it may be harder to hold on while on the back of a bike. Make sure anyone riding the bike is sober and in control.
Keep in mind that riding tired can be just as detrimental. If you are tired, have someone give you a ride home rather than risking the drive.
Rising a motorcycle is not like driving a car. It takes a different sort of skill set, and it’s important to keep that skill set sharp and focused for whenever you want to ride. Even if you just take the bike around the block every couple weeks, you can keep your reflexes sharp. It may also be beneficial to take motorcycle courses. This can also help you earn discounts on your motorcycle insurance.