The majority of vehicles on the road are cars, vans and trucks – not motorcycles. And the reality is that drivers post a great risk to motorcyclists because they rarely think about motorcycles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle deaths occurred 27 times more frequently than other vehicles in 2014.
Motorcycles are relatively small compared to a car, and drivers don’t always anticipate their movement. Distracted driving, careless drifting and turns, changing lanes or driving while impaired are also causes. The majority of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another passenger automobile, with intersections being the most likely place for an accident to happen.
You can’t avoid every accident, but you can minimize your risk while riding your motorcycle. Here are eight tips for safe riding:
- Wear a helmet with a face shield. A helmet is the most important piece of equipment a biker can use. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries. A motorcyclist not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical head injury.
- Wear the right gear. Wearing protective gear and clothing such as leather, boots that cover your ankles and gloves to minimize the amount of injuries in the case of an accident or a skid. Help other drivers see you by wearing reflective clothes or attaching reflective tape to your clothes. If your helmet does not have a face shield, make sure to wear goggles or glasses.
- Follow traffic rules. Obey the speed limit, and don’t weave in and out of lanes, ride on the shoulder or between lanes.
- Drive defensively. Nearly two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents are caused by a driver violating a biker’s right of way. Drive defensively, especially at intersections and assume that drivers cannot see you. Always ride with your headlights on and stay out of a driver’s blind spot. Also signal well in advance when changing lanes or turning.
- Make sure your motorcycle is safe. If something is wrong with your motorcycles, it’s best to find out before hitting the road. Check for tires, oil or gas leaks, coolant fluids and working lights.
- Invest in anti-lock brakes. Motorcycles equipped with antilock (ABS) brakes were less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes without it. Riders lose steering control when brakes lock up in a panic stop or in slippery conditions, leading to a skid or crash. ABS helps retain steering control during an emergency stop and keeps you safe.
- Don’t drive while impaired. Alcohol and drugs affect your coordinator, judgment, balance, alertness and overall ability to drive safely. It’s impossible to predict what other vehicles are going to do, let alone while under the influence. Don’t take the additional risk.
- Practice operating your motorcycle. It takes a different skill set to ride a motorcycle than driving a car. Take the time to get accustomed to riding in a controlled area before going into traffic. Taking a riding class or completing a formal program will help develop your techniques and street-riding strategies. These courses are beneficial for new riders and experienced riders that need a refresher.
Safe riding practices from everyone on the road reduces the number of fatalities and injuries. As a motorcyclist, understanding the challenges unique to riding will help you stay safe on the road. Enjoy all of your open road adventures with the coverage that fits your needs and budget.