As soon as summer starts, motorcyclists will dust off their helmets and hit the road. It’s the perfect time to soak up the sun while enjoying the wind whipping around you, a feeling that you could never get in another vehicle. For many, a motorcycle is a symbol of freedom, of being unrestrained from the world around you.
While motorcycles come with a great deal of freedom, they also come with a great deal of danger. For instance, according to the International Insurance Institute, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger car occupants. Since motorcyclists don’t have the protection that a vehicle provides, they are more likely to be hurt or killed in a crash. It doesn’t help that drivers and pedestrians often don’t see or pay attention to motorcyclists, which can contribute to crashes.
If you’re getting out on a motorcycle this summer, you should follow these 5 tips to stay safe:
#1. Check your bike
If you’re riding for the first time in a while, be sure to check your bike out. Letting your motorcycle sit in your garage all winter without operating is common, but going that long without riding may be cause for a tune-up. If you have any doubts about how well your motorcycle will ride, take it into your maintenance tech to take a look at it.
#2. Stay visible
Motorcycles are a fraction of the size of cars, and they’re far harder to spot at night or during poor weather conditions. When you’re out on the road, you should do your best to always be as visible as possible. This means wearing bright, reflective clothing, adding reflective tape to your motorcycle and making sure you are using your lights at all times. Do your best to avoid blind spots and stay in lanes where you can be clearly visible to other cars on the road as well.
#3. Drive defensively
Approximately 2/3 of accidents are caused by passenger vehicles that violate the right of way of bikes. When you’re on the road, you have additional pressure to drive safely, since the drivers around you won’t necessarily be watching out for you. Keep a vigilant eye for drivers who are turning and switching lanes, especially those who don’t use their turn signals. Always pay attention to those around you, and never drive as though you are the only person on the road.
#4 Take a refresher course
If it’s been a while since you’ve got on a motorcycle, now is the time to take a refresher safety course. Riders who are 50+ make up 36% of motorcycle fatalities, many of whom hadn’t driven in years and decided to take it up again. The longer it’s been since you’ve ridden, the more likely it is that you need to take a safety course. Also, depending on how long it’s been since you have ridden, the laws may have changed and you might be at risk of violating the law mistakenly.
#5 Dress appropriately
It’s tempting to wear shorts and tank tops during the summer, but this can be a dangerous choice if you crash. Without any clothing to prevent road rash, you run the risk of deep cuts and bruises if you wreck. No matter the weather, wear a helmet, long sleeves, pants and boots while you ride. Though you may be uncomfortable, it’s far better for your safety.
Have you become injured while riding a motorcycle?