People from around the world share a love of riding motorcycles, but whether it’s a weekend hobby or a way of life, all who ride a motorcycle must recognize the danger of doing so. Motorcyclists are at greater risk of injury or death than those who drive passenger vehicles. According to recent studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are four times more likely to be injured in a crash and 28 times more likely to die in one. For that reason, it’s important to understand ways to stay safe and reduce the chances of motorcycle accidents.
An important part of operating a motorcycle safely is being alert to major dangers such as cornering too quickly, cars slamming on their brakes, inattentive drivers behind you, and drivers who are reckless when changing lanes. Riders must also learn to always be aware of unexpected changes in road conditions, oncoming traffic, and even people opening their doors. In addition, a motorcyclist should also practice the basic safety rules associated with operating a bike, including obeying traffic lights, speed limits, and road signs. As with driving a car, motorcyclists must also know where their blind spots are and never change lanes without checking them and signaling first.
Being prepared for changes in driving conditions can drastically improve your chances of avoiding an accident. For instance, look out for the possibility of sudden traffic jams. When riding in traffic, always maintain enough distance between your bike and the vehicle ahead, even when stopped. In heavy traffic, it’s also a good idea to ride in the center of the lane to avoid other vehicles that may attempt to share or push you out of your lane. Being in the center of the lane also ensures that the driver ahead can clearly see the motorcycle in their rearview mirror. Most importantly, motorcyclists should always ride defensively, evaluate the traffic ahead of them, and be alert.
Weather can impact a rider’s ability to operate their bike safely as well. Rain creates slicker roads and reduces visibility. Wind can make controlling a motorcycle more difficult, and both heat and cold affect a rider’s level of comfort. In hot weather, you may even risk overheating. Whenever there’s a sudden change in the weather, determine if it’s still safe to ride. If so, increase the distance between you and other vehicles on the road, and be alert to other drivers who may be struggling to adapt to the conditions. Because rain and snow often make it difficult to see ahead, riders should also slow down, try to avoid sudden stops, and be careful of obstacles that could cause a loss of control on rain-slick roads.
Regardless of the conditions, safety begins even before a rider mounts their bike. Proper maintenance can help to prevent motorcycle accidents from happening. Before going for a ride, bikers should always pre-check their bike to ensure that everything is in safe working order. Tires should be in good condition and properly inflated. Check the brakes to ensure they are functioning as they should, and make sure the bike’s battery is charged and in good condition. All bike fluids should be full and fresh and their filters clean. Other things to check include the functionality of the electrical system to ensure that all lights are operational and the security of the bike’s foot pegs. It’s also a good idea to schedule regular maintenance checks to take care of routine tasks like oil changes.
Despite your best efforts, motorcycle accidents can still happen, but wearing the right protective gear can protect riders from injury and may even save your life. Always wear a helmet that’s properly fitted to the size of your head, whether or not it’s required by law where you live. Protective eyewear, earplugs, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves can also help to keep you safe while riding. And always wear clothing made from materials that will offer some protection against road abrasion. Leather and denim are examples of materials that are sturdy and can help protect the skin from abrasion in motorcycle accidents.
- Motorcycle and Scooter Safety Tips: Anyone looking for a simple refresher on motorcycle safety can find a list of tips for both motorcycles and scooters on this page.
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- Motorcycles and Blind Spots: It isn’t uncommon to find warnings about riding in vehicle blind spots, but riders need to also be aware of their own.
- Cruisin’ Without Bruisin’: Click on this link to read a cycle safety booklet by the NHTSA. The booklet reviews information on practicing, checking for safety, responsible riding, and wearing the right protection.
- Personal Protective Gear for Motorcyclists: Nearly every biker knows that riding comes with risks, no matter how experienced they are. This brochure on protective gear outlines the different types of gear that can help protect riders from serious harm.
- Motorcycle Tire Guide: It isn’t possible to safely ride a motorcycle without well-maintained tires. Before taking another ride, review this tire guide to learn how they work, how to inspect them and what to look for, and how to purchase new ones.
- Performing Motorcycle Maintenance to Keep Your Bike on the Road: Click this link to read about maintaining a motorcycle without taking it to the shop.
- The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: On this page, readers will find nine steps needed to maintain their motorcycle
- Motorcycle Safety: Stay informed about motorcycle accidents, helmets, and other safety gear by clicking on this link. The page also outlines how to be road ready and responsible while riding and includes links to further information about helmets and other safety topics.
- Operating a Motorcycle on Wet Roads: Driving on wet roads introduces new variables that can make riding a motorcycle tricky. This page outlines what riders need to do and understand before driving in wet conditions.
- Your Guide to Riding in Hot Weather: In high heat, riding a motorcycle can be uncomfortable. Before hitting the road, visit this page for advice on how to comfortably and safely ride in hot weather.
- Motorcycles and Weather Conditions: The weather can greatly impact a rider’s experience on the road. This article discusses concerns motorcyclists face in the rain, cold, and heat, plus tips on how to ride safely.
- Five Tips to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident: This page lists and explains five basic safety tips that every motorcyclist should know and follow.
- Ride Within Your Abilities: Basic Vehicle Control: Click this link to find information on operating a motorcycle that includes body shifting, changing gears, and U-turns.
- Motorcycle Safety Awareness: Motorcyclists who click this link will learn steps toward being more courteous and safe riders.
- Fifteen Tips for Riding in Traffic: Riding in traffic can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for bikers.
- Motorcyclists Share Tips for Riders, Drivers to Keep Each Other Safe on the Road: Both motorcyclists and car drivers need to safely share the road.
- How to Reduce the Risk of Getting Injured on a Motorcycle: Staying safe is a priority for motorcyclists, and this page offers tips to help reduce the risk of being hurt.
- Ride Safe: How to Avoid Common Motorcycle Crashes: Learn to recognize and avoid common causes of accidents by reading this document.
- Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycles: On this page, people new to motorcycling will find information about various aspects relating to motorcycles, including brief sections on maintenance and safe riding.