In this edition of our summer safety series, we are going to share eight of the top safety tips for riding motorcycles. Whether you have been riding for years or are a new rider, safety is one of the most important topics when it comes to motorcycles, as a few key things can have a significant impact on the prevention and protection of motorcycle accidents.
Safety is an even more important topic to discuss during the summer, as the amount of people riding motorcycles increases during the warmer months, and unfortunately, the rate of motorcycle accidents and injuries increases at the same time.
1. Prepare for a Safe Ride
A safe motorcycle ride begins before you hit the road. Perform a check of the condition of its parts, examining tire pressure, lights, brakes, mirrors, and your horn. Even if you believe a malfunction is only minor, such as a broken taillight, refrain from riding until everything is fixed.
2. Avoid Bad Weather Conditions
Dangerous weather conditions can cause problems for any driver, but rain, snow, or high winds are even more problematic for motorcyclists. Always check the weather before riding and make any adjustments to your plans or routes.
3. Wear the Right Motorcycle Helmet
By far, the most significant factor in protecting against motorcycle injuries is wearing the correct helmet. No matter how safely you may drive your motorcycle, the truth is you are still at risk of being seriously injured by another driver.
In the unfortunate case that you are involved in a motorcycle accident, the best protection you can have is the proper helmet. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.”
Another study revealed that motorcyclists who do not wear a helmet are 40 percent more more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in an accident and are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic head injury.
That is why we recommend always wearing a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulations. To check if your helmet is compliant with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218, look for the DOT symbol on the back of the outside of the helmet.
Not only is the use of a helmet the single most critical factor in the prevention of serious or traumatic head injuries, it is also a requirement of all motorcyclists of all ages in the state of New Jersey.
For additional help in finding the proper helmet, we recommend watching the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s video on how to choose the right motorcycle helmet.
4. Dress for Safety with Motorcycle Gear
A helmet is not the only piece of gear a motorcyclist should equip themselves with. There are other ways to protect yourself in the event of an accident by investing in:
Gloves: If you fall off your bike, you might try to catch yourself on the ground with your hands. You need strong, weatherproof protection from gloves that pad the entirety of your hands.
Boots: Strong, durable motorcycle boots help you keep a firm grip on your bike, and laces are often on the inside so they do not get tangled with the motorcycle during travel.
Elbow, shin, and knee guards: In the event of a crash, you need additional coverage to avoid scraping your elbows, shins, and knees against the ground.
Jacket: A jacket provides a level of protection against your body, and there are many types available, such as ones that keep you warm during the winter and cool during the summer and provide better nighttime visibility for other drivers.
5. Watch for Hazards on the Road
Just like inclement weather, hazards on the road can pose more of a threat to motorcyclists than to cars. It is important riders focus on their surroundings and proactively pay attention to potential hazards such as:
- leaves or branches on the road
- oil spills
- debris from construction
6. Make Yourself Visible
One of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is other drivers not seeing a motorcyclist on the road. Many times, by the time the driver does notice the motorcycle rider, it is too late to react properly.
Therefore, it is extremely important to do all that you can to make yourself visible as a motorcyclist. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation shares some key ways to stay visible include:
- Use reflective clothing or decals on your helmet, bike, and clothing
- Always use your headlights
- Always use your turn signals and flash your break lights when stopping or slowing down
- Make sure you are aware of other drivers’ blind spots
- Use your horn as a warning if necessary
7. Always Drive Sober & Stay Alert
There is no excuse for drunk driving. You put yourself and others at serious risk when you drive under the influence. Motorcyclists need to stay extremely alert and sober while riding their bikes, as one of the best ways to stay safe is to drive defensively.
Unfortunately, there are far too many people who drive distracted, whether they are using their phone or texting, or playing with their radio and not looking out for motorcyclists. Because of this, motorcycle riders need to be extra alert and keep an eye out for cars who may be changing lanes, pulling out from side streets, or braking suddenly.
A study by the Center for Urban Transportation Research found that for motor vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and a car, the drivers of the car were at fault 60 percent of the time.
As there is a very limited time to react and avoid an automobile accident, it is important for motorcyclists to always be alert, stay sober, and drive defensively.
8. Use the “SEE” Strategy
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation created a mental strategy called SEE to help motorcyclists stay safe. The SEE Strategy stands for Search, Evaluate, and Execute and its purpose is to help increase a motorcyclist’s time to react and widen safety margins.
Some ways that motorcyclists can use SEE strategies include:
- Using your lane positioning to be seen by other drivers
- Always signal your moves and lane changes in advance
- Avoid weaving in and out of lanes
- Stick to the speed limit
- Give yourself extra space and time to react to other drivers’ actions
Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
We hope that by taking these five tips into consideration, more motorcyclists will stay safe while driving. Unfortunately, there are always risks when driving a motorcycle, and accidents still occur.
In the unfortunate situation that you are involved in a motorcycle crash, there are many resources to help you recover – both physically, emotionally, and financially. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please visit our motorcycle resource page or contact our team of experienced attorneys directly. We are experts in representing those injured in motorcycle accidents and can help defend your case in court and earn you compensation.