Riding your motorcycle is a sort of mini vacay – the cool breeze running through your hair, the warm sun bouncing off of the pavement, it truly is your idea of paradise; BUT the harsh reality is that motorcycle riding can be quite a dangerous hobby.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimated that motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than people in a car. With statistics like these, it’s crucial to take safety seriously while driving motorcycles:
1. Always Wear a Helmet with Protective Eye Wear or a Face Shield
This is the most vital safety tip we can encourage for all motorcycle riders. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2017 alone.
Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars. In addition, riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Wearing a motorcycle helmet with protective eye wear or a face shield is the single most important thing you can do before hitting the road.
2. Gear Up
No matter how hot it might be outside, you should always wear protective gear and clothing that will help protect you from the elements, debris and road rash if an accident/skid is to occur. Wearing leather clothing, boots with nonskid soles and gloves can help protect your body from severe injuries.
3. Ride in Your Comfort Zone
It’s important to take your experience, your motorcycle and your chosen route into consideration before every ride.
Your bike should fit you; meaning you don’t have to stand on your tippy toes to reach the ground while you’re seated. You should be able to reach your handlebars and controls easily. The bike itself shouldn’t feel too heavy.
The more familiar you are with your route, the easier it will be for you to focus on safety instead of not missing a turn. If you happen to be riding with a group, never push yourself to keep up with them – always ride at your own pace, not theirs.
4. Check the Forecast
Inclement weather conditions like rain, hail, ice or snow aren’t only unenjoyable to ride in, they are extremely dangerous to ride in. Aside from the rain stinging your skin, such elements result in a loss of traction and reduced visibility.
Choose a different day to ride if inclement weather is in the forecast. If you’re already stuck in the storm, find shelter under an overpass until the conditions become more favorable for driving.
5. Inspect Your Ride
Before You’ve Mounted
- Headlights, Taillights & Turn Signals – Test that all lights are functioning, including high and low beams.
- Tires – Check your tire pressure at least once a week. Before you ride you should look for any cracks or bulges, or signs of wear in the treads.
- Under the Motorcycle – Look for oil or gas leaks.
- Hydraulic and Coolant Fluids – check the level of these liquids once/week.
After You’ve Mounted
- Mirrors – Clean and adjust all mirrors for optimal viewing.
- Clutch & Throttle – Make sure these are working efficiently, the throttle should snap back once released.
- Brakes – Test the front and rear brakes.
- Horn – Test that your horn is sounding.
6. Ride Defensively
Realistically, your ride is harder to recognize than most passenger vehicles. In fact, nearly 2/3 of all motorcycle accidents are a result of a driver violating a rider’s right of way. When traveling on a two-wheeled vehicle, you should keep your headlights on, stay out of the driver’s blind spot, signal well in advance, watch for turning vehicles and drive as defensively as possible.
7. Obey All Traffic Rules
Obey the speed limit; the faster you go the longer it will take you to stop. Be aware of local traffic laws and rules of the road.
8. Ride Sober
Drinking and driving on your motorcycle is a deadly combination for both yourself and others. You need all of the mental and physical focus you can get when riding your bike, and drinking won’t help you achieve that.
9. Carry a First-Aid Kit
Riding with a basic first-aid kit is a good idea in case of injury. Some items you might carry include:
- Disinfecting wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Adhesive Tape
10. Take a Safety Course
A safety course will teach you the rules of the road for motorcycles. You will also learn the appropriate actions to take in unpredictable riding situations that can arise. Driving a motorcycle requires skill and good judgment and a safety course can help you practice these.
We hope you think of these safety tips before you ride – because just as you care for your friends and family that ride, they care the same for you. Check out our 10 tips that every driver should know about sharing the road with motorcycles so we can all stay safe on our roadways!