Motorcycles can be a fun and fuel efficient way to get around, but according to the IIHS, the reality is that motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car. The key to being safe while riding a motorcycle is to be sensible and avoid risks. Keep in mind that speeding and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol contributed to 42-48 percent of all fatal accidents in 2010. Eliminating these risk factors alone will greatly decrease your risk of getting into an accident. Below, we have identified more safety tips for motorcyclists that will help keep you safe on the road.
- Choose the right bike. When shopping for a motorcycle, choose the one that is right for you. Avoid buying a bike that is more than you can handle. Also, make sure the bike fits – your feet should be able to rest comfortably on the ground and the handlebars and controls should be within comfortable reach. Choose a bike with a more powerful engine if you plan on doing a lot of highway riding, or a smaller model for local commuting.
- Invest in antilock brakes. The IIHS shows that antilock brakes can be a real lifesaver – they can help you retain steering control during a rapid stop. Bikes with antilock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those without them, especially in slippery road conditions.
- Sharpen your skills. A Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course can help you hone your skills and teach you emergency maneuvers that could save your life in an accident. They can also get you a discount on your insurance or even offer credit towards the cost of a new bike or future training costs.
- Wear the right gear. T-shirts, jeans, and sandals are not appropriate riding gear and could spell disaster in the event of an accident. It is important to wear jackets, full pants, gloves, and over-the-ankle footwear, preferably all leather or any other reinforced material, to protect you from wind chill, bugs, debris, and road rash if you should slide out.
- Be a defensive driver. Car drivers are at fault for 60 percent of motorcycle accidents, so be extra alert. Watch out for cars making sudden lane changes or for cars pulling out from side streets. Also, keep a safe following distance so that you have enough time to stop or react to an obstruction on the road.
- Avoid riding in bad weather. Bad weather can decrease visibility and tire traction and reduce your margin for error, which in turn increases your chance of an accident. If you must ride in bad weather, avoid making sudden maneuvers and take turns as easily as possible.
- Wear a helmet. Riding without a helmet increases a motorcyclist’s chances of a fatal head injury by 40 percent, and they are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury. Full-face helmets are the best choice, and can also cut down on wind noise and fatigue. Plan to replace your helmet every five years for maximum protection.
- Beware of road hazards. Since motorcycles have less contact with the ground than a car, bikes are more prone to accidents caused by hazards like potholes, gravel, wet leaves, or bumps in the pavement. If you cannot avoid them, slow down as much as possible without too much steering. Hazards should be approached as close to a right angle as possible.
- Check your bike before you ride. Do a quick check to make sure everything is working properly before you ride. Check to ensure tires are properly inflated and that lights, horn, and signals are in working order. Also make sure to check the chain, shaft, and brakes.