Motorcycles are a lot of fun. They’re fast. They’re powerful. And they’re much more maneuverable than traditional vehicles. But they’re also somewhat dangerous. Their speed and agility can sometimes make them difficult to control, and they don’t offer nearly as much protection as a traditional vehicle – meaning if you do crash, you’ll have a higher risk of injury or death. It’s no surprise that motorcycles have higher accident rates and higher fatality rates than other types of motor vehicles.
Despite the high rate of motorcycle accidents, most motorcycle crashes aren’t the fault of the motorcyclist – they’re a result of negligent drivers on the road. Still, there are a number of strategies you can use to increase your safety while on a motorcycle.
You need to be familiar with the balance, maneuverability, and technical skill required of motorcycle riding. The only way to get better is with practice. While you’re an inexperienced rider, be extra cautious, and don’t attempt to ride faster or turn sharper than you can reasonably handle. Spend time in safe environments improving your skill and experience.
Wear a Helmet
This should be obvious, but always wear a helmet. Helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths, and 67 percent effective in preventing serious brain injuries. You may not like the way it looks or feels, but if you’re involved in an accident when riding, it could end up saving your life.
Invest in Tough Clothing
Motorcyclists are often flung from the vehicle when involved in a crash, often sliding along the road and suffering from road rash. In extreme cases, this can be quite gruesome. However, it’s easy to prevent if you buy and wear tough clothing. Leather is a top choice for motorcyclists, but no matter what material you choose, it should cover your entire body when riding.
Avoid Inclement Weather
Most people prefer to ride motorcycles when it’s calm and sunny. But you may be tempted to ride in the rain, snow, or ice – or in low visibility conditions like fog. Generally, you should avoid inclement weather at all costs. Even if you’re experienced and confident in your ability to handle this weather, you still have to worry about all the other drivers on the road.
Make Yourself Visible
One of the reasons motorcycle accidents are so common is because of motorcycles’ low visibility. If a driver can’t see you, they’ll be more likely to hit you. You can mitigate this risk by increasing your visibility; wear bright clothes when you can, make sure your motorcycle lights are working, and ride at the edges of lanes, so you’re more easily seen in mirrors.
Obey the Law
The law exists to protect you and other people on the road. It’s important to obey the law at all times. You may be tempted to speed down the highway as fast as you can or sneak through a red light when there’s nobody around, but every illegal action you take is going to increase your risk of an accident.
It’s also important to know motorcycle-specific laws in your area. For example, do you know whether lane splitting is legal in your state?
Inspect and Maintain Your Motorcycle
You may be a perfectly capable motorcyclist, but if your motorcycle malfunctions on the road, there’s nothing you can do to prevent an accident. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to inspect and maintain your vehicle regularly. Ensure it’s in full working order before taking it out and conduct routine maintenance on a regular basis.
Watch for Road Hazards
Motorcycles are especially vulnerable to hazards on the road, such as foreign objects, potholes, and even loose gravel. Keep an eye out for these potential obstructions and hazards. Avoid them however you can.
Maintain Your Distance
Keep a reasonable distance between yourself and other drivers. This will give you more time to react if someone ahead of you makes a sudden stop or has to swerve out of the way of something. Additionally, greater distance will give you more flexibility in watching the behavior of other drivers; if you see someone driving erratically or unpredictably, you can avoid them.
Bring a First Aid Kit
Finally, consider bringing a first aid kit. It won’t take up much space on the bike, but it can help you recover after an accident until help arrives – or possibly allow you to help someone else in a similar situation.
It doesn’t take much time or cost much money to follow these important safety tips – but they could save your life if you ride a motorcycle regularly. Take the risks of motorcycle riding seriously so you can continue enjoying your hobby for a long, long time.