Riding a motorcycle can come with rich rewards – be it the exhilaration of freedom, that adrenaline rush or simply the serenity of being out on the open road. Statistics tell us, however, that motorcycling can be dangerous, whether it's a hobby or a means of commuting to work or school. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle riders continue to be over represented in fatal traffic crashes. In 2020, 5,579 motorcyclists died in crashes across the United States.
Numbers like these make it crucial for motorcyclists to understand and practice safety. Here are 10 safety tips every motorcyclist should know.
Always wear a helmet that protects your head, face and eyes
This is the most important safety tip for motorcyclists. Because motorcyclists lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle and head injuries are the most common cause of motorcycle deaths, it is crucial that both riders and passengers wear a Department of Transportation (DOT)-certified helmet that can protect them in the event of a crash. NHTSA estimates that from 2002 to 2017, motorcycle helmets have saved more than 25,000 lives. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers. Choose a motorcycle helmet that has face and eye protection.
Make sure you are equipped with the right gear for riding.Regardless of whether it is hot or cold outside, if you are riding a motorcycle, you need to wear clothing and protective gear that will safeguard you from the elements to help avoid a motorcycle accident in California. Wearing leather clothing, boots with nonskid soles and gloves can help protect you from injuries such as road rash in the event of a crash. Jackets that are specially designed with rugged padding and breathable mesh provide protection and ventilation if you are riding in warm weather. Choose gear in bright colors so you are visible to other drivers.
Keep an eye on the weather.
It is best for motorcyclists to avoid bad weather when possible. Slippery conditions, for example, could reduce your margin for error. Rain could hamper your visibility and reduce your tires' grip on the road. When riding in strong winds or rain, be sure to ride with enough room between you and other vehicles. Avoid making sudden maneuvers and stay away from other vehicles' blind spots.
A number of studies about motorcycle accidents have consistently shown that other drivers are at fault more often when it comes to motorcycle accidents. So, motorcyclists need to be extra alert especially now with more drivers looking at their phones or speeding. Keep an eye out for vehicles that are changing lanes without warning or pulling out from side streets. Maintain a safe distance behind vehicles to make sure you have enough stopping distance.
Inspect your motorcycle before every ride.
Before you hit the road, be sure to inspect your motorcycle. Keep a written or mental checklist of items including tire pressure, mirrors and lights. Take a close look for loose bolts, leaks or other potential mechanical hazards. It is also important that you are diligent about regular care and maintenance. If there is a part that needs to be fixed, do so before you ride. In addition to oil changes, be on the lookout for wear in tire and brakes.
Do not ride if your head is not in the right place.
If you are in a bad mood, upset, angry or drowsy, do not ride your motorcycle. When you are on the motorcycle, you are often alone and are left to fend for yourself on the road. If your focus is not in the right place, if you are distracted by other problems or thoughts, it is best not to ride. Making one small mistake on the road or not being alert to anticipate a mistake someone else could make could result in catastrophic injuries.
Make sure you are more visible.
There are times when every motorcyclist finds himself or herself riding in low daylight levels. When you are in such a situation, you must make sure you are visible to others on the road. You can enhance your visibility by wearing a light reflector jacket on top of your leather jacket. You may also wish to consider buying a leather suit that has retro-reflective patches. Make sure your headlight and taillights are working properly.
Get enough rest before you get on the road.
There is no question that riding a motorcycle requires high concentration and level of focus. This means that you need a good night's sleep and adequate rest before going for a ride on your motorcycle. If you are on a longer trip be sure you are taking breaks, stretching and staying hydrated. Pull over and take a rest break if you feel fatigued or drowsy.
Look out for escape paths and stay away from roadway debris.It is important to have several escape paths in order to avoid collision. A personal injury accident is nothing to take lightly. If you suddenly find other motorists entering your path of travel, you immediately need an escape path. Motorcyclists would be well advised to keep looking for such paths so they can keep their options open and be prepared to momentarily use that escape path, should the need arise. Stay on the lookout for roadway debris, which could prove fatal in some cases.
Keep up your training and skills.
Whether you are a new rider or have been riding for a while, it is always a good idea to stay up on your training and skills. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers riding courses. Find one in your area. Such a course can teach you not just the basics, but also advanced techniques such as performing evasive emergency maneuvers, which could be lifesaving.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, it is important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer who will fight for your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses.