5 Tips For Motorcycle Riding Safety
Recently, a local man died in a motorcycle accident. According to media reports, the man swerved to avoid slower-moving traffic. He then lost control of his motorcycle, hitting a guardrail.
This accident is a reminder of the importance of motorcycle safety. While motorcyclists are more vulnerable on roadways than those driving larger vehicles, there is no reason you cannot safely ride your motorcycle.
Even experienced riders cannot control every circumstance of the road, let alone the actions of other drivers. At the end of the day, motorcycle safety on the road can never be guaranteed, but there are plenty of ways that you can mitigate the risks of riding a motorcycle.
Here are ten riding tips to make your next motorcycle ride a little safer:
Protective Motorcycle Gear
Every motorcyclist takes a riding course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation before they can operate a bike. During this safety course, you learn many safety methods for how to be careful on the road, and one of the main lessons is to protect your body.
This means you should wear safety gear like your DOT-approved helmet, leather jacket, leather pants, and gloves at all times. You, as well as your passenger, should be seated directly in the center of the seat with both feet on the footrest. The driver should be holding the handlebars securely.
It is also a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit into the cargo space of your bike. That way, in the event of a collision or accident, you can administer medical care for minor injuries, which are far more likely to happen to motorcyclists than other drivers.
All of these steps should be taken before you even leave the driveway to ensure a safer trip.
Riding With a Passenger
If you are going to have a passenger on your motorcycle, make sure you do so safely. Your bike should have the riding space to adequately accommodate a second rider, and your motorcycle passenger must be willing to practice safe riding habits. If there is a passenger, the person should hold securely to the driver or passenger handlebars at all times.
An additional passenger makes a huge difference in how a motorcycle operates. The extra weight changes the balance of the vehicle far more drastically than it would for a regular vehicle. A bike only has two wheels, so balancing on turns is slightly more difficult with a passenger.
To protect your passenger, avoid dramatic accelerations and slamming on the brakes too quickly. Riding a motorcycle as a passenger can be very precarious depending on the model, and it is your job to watch out for their safety on the open road. Make sure they wear a full-face helmet and other necessary motorcycle gear as well.
Maintain a Safe Following Distance
Allow yourself room to safely stop if the driver in front of you suddenly slams on their brakes. Giving yourself adequate space between your motorcycle and the vehicle in front of you will also give you more time to react if someone cuts you off, or you encounter another road hazard.
Though anti-lock brakes help stabilize your motorcycle and make it easier to avoid stopped vehicles or other hazards, giving yourself more reaction time leeway is a better strategy.
Additionally, staying within the speed limit will prevent you from catching up with other vehicles too quickly, so moderate your speed to maintain a safe distance between you.
Keep Your Head on a Swivel
Know what is happening around you. Scan the road ahead. Use your mirrors and consistently check your blind spots. Notice drivers around you who may create a safety hazard, particularly if the driver appears distracted or otherwise unaware of you.
You should have learned during your safety course to always keep an eye on the environment around you as you ride. This includes noticing other motorists around you, potential road hazards coming up, if there is an emergency situation up ahead, or if there is heavy traffic congestion that will force you to slow down or stop.
Being observant and watching for these circumstances will give you a better chance of avoiding an accident.
Know what you will do if you need to suddenly slam on your brakes or swerve around something. When possible, leave yourself a buffer zone not only ahead of you but to at least one side of you as well. Keep your left foot primed to shift gears at a moment’s notice.
Even following basic motorcycle safety tips may not be enough to make up for the actions of other drivers on the road. Defensive driving teaches you to be hyper-aware of potential mistakes that could lead to an accident, allowing you to plan ahead and have a faster reaction time should something go wrong.
Take Care of the Bike Itself
Failed equipment can cause motorcycle accidents as well. To avoid mechanical issues that could make for a dangerous situation, keep an eye on the following parts of your bike.
It is important to keep each tire inflated to the appropriate levels. This will ensure that your traction, fuel economy, and turning ability remain at an optimum level as you ride. Tire health is very important, especially for a vehicle with only two wheels.
Protecting the health of your engine is crucial to a healthy bike. Monitor your coolant level to make sure there are no leaks that could end up causing harm to the engine and creating a malfunction while riding.
Though not technically a part of the bike itself, the helmet is a key piece of gear that must be maintained. Does it have a clear visor for better visibility? Does it fit snugly on your head? Do sudden moves knock it loose as you ride? Make sure the helmet is in good condition so that you can wear it confidently and safely.
When riding a motorcycle, indicating which way you are turning is important for warning cars where you are going. Therefore, checking that your turn signals are all working the way that they should is a good way to ensure safety.
Follow the Flow of Traffic
Sometimes, motorcyclists may be tempted to try to subvert regular traffic patterns to take advantage of their increased mobility and get to their destination quicker. Unsafe practices like lane splitting are a recipe for disaster. Whatever you learned not to do during your riding course, it is a safe bet that you should remember it.
Matching the natural flow of the traffic around you is the best way to stay safe. Riding in a straight line as much as possible will keep you safe from oncoming traffic, unseen road hazards, and other potential issues.
Consider Extra Protection
While riding with a helmet and leather clothing is the standard, it never hurts to include extra protection with the right gear. Reinforced gloves, a helmet instead of just goggles or protective eyewear, a first aid kit that you can access quickly, and other gear that you can wear beyond the required standards can decrease your chance of injuries like road rash.
Motorcycles are more vulnerable than passenger vehicles, so you can never wear too much protective gear.
Don’t Go Out in Bad Conditions
Inclement weather is a common cause of motorcycles getting into accidents that result in severe injuries. Even if other motorcycles seem to handle bad weather fine, it is much easier to be in danger as a motorcyclist when it is raining, snowing, or extremely cold.
If you absolutely must ride for whatever reason in bad conditions, do not exceed the recommended speed limit.
Other Tips for Motorcycle Riders
When you ride, be careful coming out of a parking lot or driveway to enter a roadway. Other vehicles may not be able to see you as well, which could lead to an accident.
If your off-ramp is coming up but you are several lanes over, don’t risk an injury by engaging in quick lane changes or weaving between every car, a habit for some who own motorcycles. This is dangerous rider behavior that is not worth the few minutes you might save.
Experienced riders should never relax while on the road. Even if you have a stellar record of safe riding, the smallest mistake can lead to a catastrophic incident. Continue to follow these motorcycle safety tips for as long as you ride.
What to do After an Accident?
As stated before, following all these motorcycle safety tips cannot guarantee that you will never get into an accident. Your tire pressure could be perfect, you always ride in a straight line, and your helmet is always in good condition, but you cannot control the actions of others.
Another car could hit you, or even other motorcycle riders could be negligent and collide with you, causing serious injuries. Additionally, bad road conditions that the state has ignored could result in an accident, with nothing but your helmet and other safety gear protecting you from the elements.
When riding motorcycles, accidents are far more dangerous to the rider than they are for a regular car. If someone else’s negligence causes a collision while you are riding your motorcycle, you have the right to pursue damages to help with your recovery.
Of course, many of these tips can be adapted to fit the needs of others who travel roadways. Whether the person is a motorcycle rider, drives a small car, or is a long-haul truck driver, safety is important for everyone on the road.