Summer is in full swing, and the warm weather creates a strong pull for motorcycle drivers to get out there and enjoy the sunshine and open roads. Once you’re ready to hit the road, it’s important to keep these motorcycle safety tips in mind every time you start up that bike.
The National Safety Council reports that motorcycles make up 3% of all registered vehicles and only .6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. but motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2017. While nothing compares to the freedom one can feel on a motorcycle, that freedom means driver attentiveness and safe practices are even more important to ensure you are protected.
The Right Bike for You
The first thing to consider is the motorcycle itself. Before investing in any vehicle, often your first move is to research or test-drive different makes, models, and styles.
Even though a motorcycle is not typically a primary vehicle, it’s important to choose a bike that fits you. Make sure the overall power is something you can handle comfortably – don’t just choose one because it’s fast or shiny. Is the motorcycle’s weight something you can easily handle, even in the rain?
Consider the power-to-weight ratio as well: the higher this number is, the faster the bike can move. That will also change things like braking distance and acceleration rate (think of all those songs telling you the vehicle will go “0-60 in 5.2” seconds). Cruisers (motorcycles that are more for leisure than speed) will feel and handle differently than smaller, high-performance models.
First things first: you need a full-face helmet. Most accidents happen at lower speeds, but that doesn’t decrease your risk of injury. Open-faced helmets are better than nothing at all but adding that face shield not only protects the front of your face, it also keeps debris (like bugs or small gravel pieces) from striking your face.
A few other items you will benefit from include: boots or heavy shoes that cover your ankles, abrasion-resistant jacket, sturdy riding pants, and motorcycle gloves. There are hundreds of styles and materials, you can choose what best suits the climate around you. You can even create season-specific collections to keep you warm in the winter and cool for the summer.
A first aid kit is also a great thing to keep close while you’re out riding.
We’ve all done it: you start a nice long run, golf outing, or motorcycle ride because the skies are clear and blue, but halfway through, it starts raining or the wind picks up. A quick look at your favorite weather app can save you from getting stuck in dangerous weather and less-than-optimal driving conditions.
Also, take a moment to inspect your bike. Check all your lights, fluids, tire pressure, and mirrors before heading out.
There’s no replacement for a proper and immersive motorcycle safety course, but here are some motorcycle safety tips to keep in mind while you’re cruising.
Motorcycles are small, fast, and have better maneuverability than any other vehicle. They are also harder to see than other vehicles, so enhance your visibility to others by wearing bright or reflective colors, always riding with your headlights on, and being vigilant about staying out of other vehicles’ blind spots.
Tailgating is deadly for motorcyclists, so make sure to give yourself plenty of room between you and other vehicles, too.
Evaluate Your Head Space
Many accidents are caused by distracted or impaired driving, and that doesn’t just pertain to cell phones. Alcohol, lack of sleep, and emotional upset do not mix well with driving: take a quick inventory of your mental state and make sure you are in a good place to harness the extra focus a motorcycle takes.
Be Observant and Have an Exit Strategy
One of the first things they tell you about driving a vehicle is to NEVER swerve to miss an animal in the road, no matter how cute and cuddly. But if you’re on a motorcycle, the best way out of a sticky situation may not be to slam on the brakes and send yourself flying over the handlebars. Part of the focus needed to ride safely is to constantly be evaluating where a good place to pull off would be. If the choice is between the grass median or the backend of a Buick Enclave, heading off the beaten path just might save your life.
As for road hazards like litter, roadkill, and pieces of a blown tire, keep your eyes far enough ahead so you can adjust your course to avoid the debris.
Insurance is a MUST
These motorcycle safety tips will keep you safe while you ride, but unfortunately, accidents can still happen. In most states, it is illegal to drive a motorcycle without having insurance. Wondering which insurance companies provide the best cheap motorcycle insurance? Check out Gebco’s motorcycle insurance services.
For all of our insurance and telemedicine offerings, visit our website (www.gogebco.com) or call our offices for assistance right now: 800-464-3226.