Motorcycle Safety 101: Being a Safer Rider

motorcycle safety Kawasaki Z900RS 101

Motorcycle Safety 101 for American Riders: There’s nothing like the freedom of taking on the open road on a motorcycle but the sad reality is that motorcycle deaths happen 27 times more frequently and motorcycle injuries also occur six times more frequently than crashes involving other types of vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Without the protection of a car body, motorcyclists are more likely to be knocked off vehicles, fly into objects like other cars, or have their vehicle totalled in an accident.

If you love riding motorcycles, here’s how to do so safely to avoid an accident, serious injuries or even death.

Only Ride Sober

Impairment plays a major role in motorcycle fatalities, with the NHTSA reporting 27 percent of motorcycle riders who were killed in traffic crashes in 2015 were impaired by alcohol. Impairment doesn’t just occur because of alcohol – marijuana and both legal and illegal drugs can cause impairment.

Always Wear a HelmetBiltwell Lane Splitter Rusty Butcher retro motorcycle helmet motorcycle safety 101

Helmets protect your most precious body part—your brain—and save lives. NHTSA reports 740 motorcycle fatality victims could have survived if they had worn helmets in 2015, and helmets saved more than 1,770 motorcyclists. Some states require helmets, as well.

Make sure any passenger who is accompanying you on your bike wears a helmet, too. Buy a new helmet if possible, since all helmets sold now are required to meet a performance standard so that they offer ample protection. Wear a helmet with protective eye wear or a face shield, which can also help protect you in case of flying debris or road hazards.

Make Sure You’re Properly Licensed

Each state has different regulations for lawfully riding a motorcycle. In order to ride in any state, you must have a motorcycle license endorsement. Sometimes, obtaining this will require completion of a rider course. Check your state’s motorcycle requirements to make sure you’re abiding by the laws, which are put in place to protect the safety of you and other road passengers.

Maintain Vehicle Safetytyre pressures Emergency braking - tyre noise motorcycle safety 101

Just like you should check the tires and operating parts of a single-passenger vehicle or other big car, never ride a motorcycle without ensuring it’s in proper working condition first. Avoid a dangerous tire blowout by ensuring tire pressure is optimal. Brakes, signals, headlights and hydraulic and coolant fluids should all be optimally working. Make sure the throttle, clutch and horn work, too, before each ride.

Be a Confident Rider

Riding a motorcycle is very different than driving a car. There are nuances to each bike that require getting comfortable with turns, acceleration and stopping. Even the size of your bike will affect how confident you are on it, so test many models before you even purchase one that fits you.

Practice riding your motorcycle in an empty parking lot or in a low-traffic area before taking it on a busier street. If road conditions such as rain or snow make you uncomfortable, stay off your bike.

Dress AppropriatelyRicondi recommends tight leathers Andrew Smart motorcycle safety 101

Donning leather is one way to protect your skin from road rash or flying objects. You might also consider wearing fluorescent or reflective clothing, so you can be seen better at night by other motorists. Wear closed-toed shoes and gloves, as well.

Be Aware of the Road

Something that may surprise riders is that most motorcycle accidents occur in clear conditions, on straight or open curve roads, and when riders are riding for fun. The times when riders are feeling their most carefree on their bikes is when careless things could happen that cause accidents.

Make sure you aren’t listening to music while you ride and that you employ defensive riding techniques. This means paying attention to everything going around you, slowing down to prevent collisions, and pulling over or taking alternative routes whenever you feel you are riding near dangerous drivers. Insurance provider Geico reports two-thirds of motorcycle accidents are caused by drivers who violate motorcyclists’ right of way. Know with every ride, other drivers pose a threat to you, and ride accordingly.

What to Do If You’re Riding Safely and Get into a Motorcycle AccidentHow to file a motorcycle accident claim in the US - crash motorcycle safety 101

You could do everything in your power to be a safe motorcycle rider, and accidents still unfortunately happen sometimes. In some instances, negligence on behalf of another driver may be to blame. A driver who hits you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, may be driving distractedly and looking at a smartphone when they hit you, or may hit you purposely in a fit of road rage.

If you suffer serious injuries and vehicle damage after a motorcycle accident, consulting with an attorney is wise because you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with a Birmingham motorcycle accident attorney if the accident occurs in Alabama, or consult with a local lawyer in your area.

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5 Comments

    1. Mandatory viewing. Most newbies don’t have any idea how to ride briskly & safety, & they’re often given confusing/incorrect advice from well-meaning but reasonably incompetent people who’ve been riding for a couple of years & for some unknown reason think they’re pretty good.

  1. Things to beware of.
    Drop bears, anything that falls from a tree larger than a leaf.
    Road snakes, that slippery tar stuff used to patch roads.
    Land mines, objects on the road that will flick up and injure you or damage the bike or launch you into the air. They can be a branch a lump of tread off a truck , bolts , mufflers etc mattresses flat pieces of wood or metal that jamb under the bike.
    UFOs objects that fly out of the clear sky that can take out an eye impale you or take your head off. Be especially aware of trucks leaving job sites and the stuff that falls from them or flicks out of the duals or the tread it’s self.
    Also large birds and stuff deliberately thrown at riders.
    Volvo’s or any car that advertise safety as the really crap drivers buy them.
    Horse floats for two reasons, the drivers are often worse than Volvo drivers and what comes out of horses without warning avoid other livestock transport for the same reasons.
    Yowies, these usually wear a uniform and come running out to nab you or someone else without looking or thinking of the consequences of their idiocy. Yowies have a sub set known as jaywalkers.
    Magoos, they wear hats driving gloves and goggles do fifty kph in eighty zones don’t know how to use a roundabout and have been driving for fifty years and never had an accident but leave a trail of destruction wherever they go.
    Apple gazers, their makeup or text message is far more important than the rider they kill.
    Alligators, they accuse you of something when you filter past and may go as far as to rage against you or call the cops who will find some excuse to book you for something because being on a bike you must be doing something wrong so they feel justified in booking you even if you’re innocent.

    There are probably a thousand others I’m forgetting but it’s time to flush.
    Oh that reminds me
    Public toilets, wet tile floors and bike boot don’t mix.

  2. Addendum:
    Avoid Being Near Self-Driving Test Cars
    These test cars are not much interested in the presence of motorcycles, only “seeing” them as a potential source of paint damage so in that regard they are no better than a run-of-the-mill human driver.
    If such a test car does collide with you, assume that the local big-business representatives (aka police) will not be sympathetic to your cause.

    Perhaps when the Yamaha MotoBot learns how to kick a LIDAR off a test car will the AI’s be ready for real world use. Only then will the roads will be safer for humans since it will be safer to have the AI’s engage in road rage against each other instead of people. And while the AI’s are busy battling each other they will have less time to think about enslaving the human race.

  3. This is from USA, Australia is similar.

    In 2005 for the first time, motorcycle riders suffered more fatalities (224) than cars (171) in a guardrail collision.

    Approximately, one in eight motorcyclists who struck a guardrail were fatally injured.

    Fatality risk in motorcycle-guardrail collisions is 12%.
    Fatality risk in motorcycle-concrete barrier collisions is 8%.
    Fatality risk for motorcycle-car collision is 4.8%

    Hitting a guardrail is 3 times more dangerous than hitting a car.

    https://www.sbes.vt.edu/gabler/publications/esv-07-0474-O.pdf

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