If you ride a motorcycle, you know how much fun it can be: the wind pressing against your body, a powerful bike beneath you, and intense speeds for miles. But you also know that riding can be dangerous and that many car drivers aren't as motorcycle-aware as they should be.
The facts are simple: motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to be involved in an accident than auto drivers. And when an accident means road rash at the very least (and severe injuries, paralysis, and death at the very worst), that statistic is no laughing matter.
You love to ride, but you want to be safe while you do it. Below, we've got tips on how to avoid accidents while cruising on your daily commute or while out for a joyride.
Choose the Right Bike
Choose a bike that fits you. Can you easily put both feet flat on the ground when you're sitting down? Can you easily lift the bike on and off the center stand? Can you easily reach the handlebars and controls? If so, you've found a great starter bike. Remember, even models with smaller engines are extremely powerful.
Choose Antilock Brakes
Some brakes lock up easily, which leads to skids and crashes. But studies prove that bikes equipped with antilock brakes are 37% less likely to lead to a fatal crash. Most motorcycle models now have antilock brakes that make it easier for drivers to retain control while steering during an emergency.
Don't Drink and Drive
Alcohol impairs your judgment and slows your reaction time. Driving drunk or buzzed is extremely dangerous in an automobile, and the risks increase enormously on a bike. In 2009, nearly 30% of motorcyclists who died in an accident had been drinking. Don't be a part of that statistic. If you've had a drink, don't drive home.
Wear a Helmet
Not all motorcycle drivers enjoy wearing a helmet, but you take a terrible risk when you ride without one. Motorcyclists can sustain serious brain injuries, even in a minor accident, if they don't wear helmets.
Today's helmets are lightweight, comfortable, and stylish. They also provide great eye protection, particularly when the sun is brightest or weather conditions are poor. Choose a helmet that is Department of Transportation-approved.
Driving any kind of vehicle forces you to make split-second decisions, but the stakes are higher when you ride. Get to know your nearest riding course where you can practice your motorcycle-driving skills and your decision-making in a controlled environment.
Show Your Colors
Most auto drivers involved in a motorcycle accident say they simply didn't see the motorcyclist. So wear brightly colored gear that is easy to spot. Make sure you're covered, too-flip-flops, t-shirts, and board shorts offer little protection in an accident.
Check Your T-CLOCS
T-CLOCS stands for tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis, and stands. Before getting on your bike and hitting the road inspect all these parts of your motorcycle. You'll know your bike can get you safely to your next destination if you ensure your tires have tread, your brakes work well, and your bike's other features are in good condition.
Avoid Bad Weather
You can't always ride in perfect weather, but try to avoid using your motorcycle in heavy rain and strong winds when possible. Moisture on the road makes it a lot easier to skid and crash. Plus, you have to drive more slowly to avoid the risk of hydroplaning, but you can't count on other drivers to do the same.
Road trips can be especially enjoyable on a bike, because unlike a car, a motorcycle has no roof and four walls to block the fantastic views and great scenery. But getting lost in the view can distract you from hazards on the road. Sand, pebbles, leaves, and litter can cause your motorcycle to skid and crash. Pay attention to the road and other drivers for optimum safety while riding.
Because car drivers sometimes don't see motorcycles, you can increase your safety significantly by looking twice before you maneuver around other vehicles, especially when changing lanes or merging onto the freeway. Too many impulsive driving decisions lead to accidents. Make sure that no one else is merging into the lane at the same time as you, and don't drive in other drivers' blind spots.
According to a study from the University of South Florida, accidents involving a motorcycle and an automobile are the car driver's fault 60% of the time. Many drivers aren't used to driving around motorcyclists and don't look carefully when switching lanes or maneuvering on the road. Be on your guard, and drive defensively.
Motorcycles are fuel efficient, convenient, and fun. You deserve to be safe on the road while riding. Follow these steps to safely enjoy your motorcycle. And if you are injured in a motorcycle accident, contact your attorney immediately to begin building a strong case.