(Contributed post for our North American readers)
If you’re an avid rider, you understand the sense of freedom and endless entertainment that can come from owning a motorcycle, and you’re not the only one. In 2017 alone, more than 470,000 motorcycles were sold in the U.S.
Yet with riding comes many accident-related dangers. Just being on the road puts a motorcyclist at risk for getting into an accident. While this is a harsh truth that may feel very unfair at times, it is the daunting reality that all riders face.
Fortunately, many programs and preventative measures are already in place to help bring awareness to the risk of motorcycle accidents—and the role other drivers and vehicles on the road play in this risk. Initiatives like “Look Twice. Save A Life.” help raise awareness and provide tips for safety while sharing the road with motorcycles.
Motorcyclists shouldn’t have to give up their favorite hobby to ensure their personal safety. In addition to helping raise awareness in drivers of other vehicles, it’s also important that all motorcyclists take steps to avoid a motorcycle accident each time they ride.
These tips can help prevent a motorcycle accident while you ride:
1. Always Wear A Helmet And Protective Gear
This tip may seem like an obvious one for some riders, but others may avoid wearing a helmet and gear for a number of reasons. The weight of the helmet during a long ride, for example, can deter riders from wearing it. Some find helmets uncomfortable, don’t like the look of them, or simply don’t want to foot the expense.
Yet the chances of a motorcycle accident causing serious injury or death greatly increase if you don’t wear your helmet. Helmets reduce your risk for an accident being fatal by 37 percent and for serious injury by 69 percent.
Wearing other protective gear also lessens your risk of experiencing serious or fatal injury in an accident. Reflective jackets allow other drivers on the road to easily spot you, while protective pads help guard against injury.
2. Watch Your Speed And Obey Traffic Laws
Speeding increases the risk of an accident in any motor vehicle, and motorcycles are no exception. In 2013, excessive speed was a factor in 34 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents. Riding at a safe and legal speed, especially on busy roadways, greatly reduces your chances of getting into an accident.
If you’re riding in rain or other hazardous weather conditions, you may want to slow down even further. Similarly, motorcycle riders must be even more diligent about obeying traffic laws than other drivers on the road in order to safeguard against accidents.
Always coming to a complete stop, remembering to yield the right of way, and keeping a safe distance from other vehicles can help keep you safe during your ride.
3. Beware Of Blind Zones While Driving
Motorcycles are the smallest legal vehicles on the road; this makes them harder for other vehicles to see in general, but especially when you enter other drivers’ blind spots.
Always beware when entering the blind zone of another vehicle. It may be a good idea to avoid blind zones altogether if you aren’t driving on an open roadway. It’s also a good idea to avoid passing in high traffic areas and roads with many curves and bends, if possible.
4. Avoid High Traffic Areas And Door Opening
Of course it isn’t always possible to avoid high traffic areas just because you’re on your motorcycle, nor should you have to. But perhaps you’re planning a weekend trip during a major holiday and know the road you plan to take will be busy. It may be a better idea to plan to enter that roadway at a time when traffic will be lower, or to take a different route.
If you’re in an area where there is a lot of parking near the roadway, in downtown areas, for instance, it’s best to always be aware of your surroundings in these areas. A large number of motorcycle accidents occur each year due to drivers or passengers in parked cars opening their doors and failing to see an oncoming motorcycle rider.
5. Keep Up With Motorcycle Maintenance
As with any vehicle, ensuring your vehicle is properly maintained and safe to have on the road can reduce your risk of the motorcycle malfunctioning and contributing to an accident. Regularly have your brakes checked, keep an eye on tire tread and wear, and keep your windshield clear at all times.
6. Be On Your Guard And Avoid Distraction While Driving
It’s important that all drivers pay attention while on the road, but for their own safety and that of their passengers, motorcyclists must take extra care to drive defensively. This means assuming that other drivers cannot see you and driving accordingly.
Take extra caution when passing, beware when other drivers are entering the road or turning in front of you, and look out for places in traffic where cars may pull illegal turning maneuvers or dart in and out of traffic, such as in construction zones or around a vehicle driving slowly in the passing lane.
Without a doubt, other drivers should make room for motorcyclists on the road and watch out for their safety as fellow citizens. But to decrease your chances of getting into a motorcycle accident, take steps to keep yourself and your passengers safe. If you get into an accident while riding and need to pursue compensation for your losses, contact a motorcycle accident attorney today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Motorcycle Safety
Michigan.gov — Look Twice. Save A Life.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — Motorcycle Safety, Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycles