Enjoy the Ride with These 7 Motorcycle Safety Tips
Enjoy the Ride with These 7 Motorcycle Safety Tips
Nothing beats the thrill of the open road on your motorcycle.
The rumble of the motor. The rush of the wind. What better way to take in the scenery along the highway on a sunny day?
But before you rev up that engine, make sure you bring safety along for the ride. Compared with those driving passenger cars or trucks, motorcyclists face a special set of risks.
- Almost 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Another 88,000 were injured.
- Motorcycle fatalities occurred 29 times more frequently per vehicle mile traveled than those involving passenger cars.
Here are seven tips to help you ride in style and get home safely.
#1: Choose the Right Motorcycle
Safety begins at the dealership. Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re shopping around for the best motorcycle:
- Choose the size and speed you’re comfortable with. Your bike should be easy to get on and off.
- You should be able to rest both feet flat on the ground while seated.
- The handlebars and controls should be within easy reach.
- Your bike should not be too heavy. It should be light enough so that it’s easy to maneuver.
- Get anti-lock brakes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, you are 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash if your motorcycle has them.
#2: Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
If you’re new to motorcycling, or you haven’t ridden in a while, take the time to hone your skills before you hit the road.
- Sign up for a motorcycle training course from the dealership, or from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
- Completing a course may qualify you for a discount on your motorcycle insurance.
- A qualified course may also allow you to skip some of the testing requirements for obtaining a motorcycle license.
Practice what you learn in low-traffic areas before riding your motorcycle in heavy traffic. Learn how to ride safely in hazardous conditions such as high winds or wet or uneven surfaces.
#3: Wear the Right Motorcycle Gear
Choosing motorcycle riding gear isn’t just about how you look. What you wear can help to keep you safe while riding and in the event of an accident.
- Helmet. Helmet. Helmet. Motorcycle helmets save lives. Riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury, and states that have repealed helmet laws have seen an increase in motorcycle fatalities. Choose a DOT-certified helmet and wear it correctly every time you crank the engine.
- Protect your eyes. Choose a helmet with a visor, or buy a pair of goggles to protect your eyes from the sun and debris.
- Put an extra layer between you and the pavement. Did you know the right motorcycle apparel can enhance your safety?
- Motorcycle jackets should be made of leather or other reinforced material.
- Motorcycle gloves protect your hands while riding
- Long pants and motorcycle boots that cover your ankles can protect your legs and feet.
If it’s warm outside, wear clothing made of breathable material for greater comfort.
#4: Make Sure Your Bike Is Ready to Roll
Always inspect your bike before starting the engine.
- Make sure the lights come on.
- Test the horn and signals.
- Take a look at the chain, belt, and shaft.
- Check the brakes.
- Inspect the tires for wear and proper pressure.
#5: Watch for Hazardous Riding Conditions
It’s important to avoid hazardous conditions whenever possible, and to know how to drive safely when you do encounter them on the road.
- The first few minutes of a rain storm are actually the most dangerous. That’s when the rain mixes with oil and other pollutants to form a slick film on the surface of the pavement.
- Rain also cuts your visibility and reduces your tires’ grip on the road. Avoid sudden maneuvers and be gentle with the brakes, throttle and steering.
- Watch out for other slippery conditions when possible. In addition to rain, sand, wet leaves and pebbles can all cause the motorcycle to slide.
- Move to the side in windy conditions if possible.
- Bumps and potholes can also cause an accident.
#6: Ride Smart
Because motorcyclists face special risks, it’s important to practice a few good driving habits.
- Keep your mind on the road. Alertness may be your best riding buddy. Allow plenty of space to respond to turns, lane changes or hazardous conditions. Ride in a part of the lane where you’re most visible to other drivers and don’t weave between lanes. Always obey the posted speed limit. For tackling curves, slow down ahead of the curve and gently accelerate as you enter and drive out of it.
- Drive defensively. Car drivers are at fault 60% of the time in crashes with motorcycles. That means you’ve got to constantly watch for cars suddenly changing lanes or pulling out from side streets. Never tailgate, keep a safe following distance and allow enough stopping distance between you and the driver ahead of you.
- Be visible. Other motorists often simply fail to see motorcycles because they are smaller than other vehicles. Watch blind spots, use signals and flash your brake light when slowing down or stopping. Use your horn if necessary. Make sure your headlight works and wear reflective strips on your bike and clothing if riding after dark.
- Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes are more likely to be alcohol impaired than those driving other vehicles. Alcohol and drugs hurt your ability to drive correctly and respond to other drivers.
- Practice passenger safety. Riding with a passenger makes balance harder. Make sure your passenger wears the proper clothing and knows how to sit correctly. Teach them how to lean through turns and to look over your shoulder in the direction of a turn.
- Be careful when carrying a load. If you are carrying a backpack or any other type of load, fasten it securely to the motorcycle before you leave. Keep heavy objects low and toward the center of gravity, where they are less likely to interfere with steering.
#7: Get Insured
Even when you take all of the safety precautions above, a motorcycle accident can still happen. That’s where the right motorcycle insurance comes in.
Most states require a minimum of liability coverage for motorcycle owners, but other coverages are highly recommended.
- Motorcycle liability coverage. This type of policy covers bodily injury and property damage that you cause to another person in the event of a crash. However, it doesn’t cover you or your motorcycle. You can purchase guest passenger liability in case a passenger is injured while riding on your motorcycle.
- Collision coverage. If you collide with another vehicle or object, this policy covers damage to your motorcycle. The insurer pays damages after you meet your deductible, and coverage is usually based on the book value of your motorcycle before the loss occurs.
- Comprehensive coverage. You can also purchase insurance for risks besides accidents. Comprehensive coverage pays damages minus your deductible for perils including theft, fire and vandalism.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. What if you have a crash involving another vehicle and the other driver lacks insurance? Or has insufficient coverage? This policy covers damages to you or your motorcycle by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, including medical treatment, lost wages and other damages.
Do you have questions about insuring your motorcycle and reducing your risk on the road?
Contact The Resource Center. We’ll provide the information you’re looking for and help you select a policy that keeps you rolling.
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