Motorcycles give a feeling of freedom you could never get in a car: the wind whipping around you, the road right under your feet and the warmth of the sun shining down on you as you drive. Being able to experience the road on a motorcycle is a feeling that many envy.
However, as the old quote goes, “with freedom comes responsibility.” Motorcyclists must be constantly vigilant for accidents or else risk their lives. Despite only making up 3% of registered vehicles, motorcycles accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities in the US, and, in 2016 alone, 5,286 motorcyclists died in traffic crashes.
It’s clear we have a ways to go when it comes to motorcycle safety, but what can we do individually to look out for one another? We’ve listed some tips for both drivers and motorcyclists so that your next trip is safer than your last.
Motorcycle Safety Tips for Drivers
Before you learn any of the basic safety tips, it’s important to understand that motorcycles are vehicles. They are required to abide by the same driving laws as you and are allowed the same rights and privileges. While driving in a car or truck, it’s easy to perceive that motorcycles are just like a bike that happened to get on the highway. You need to treat a motorcycle with the same amount of attention as you would another car, if not more.
Due to their small size, motorcycles are already at a disadvantage when it comes to being seen. As a driver, you should be checking your blind spots for any motorcycles while you drive. If you spot a motorcycle, you don’t need to change your driving patterns immediately, but be aware of their presence. If a motorcycle is driving in front of you, give them enough space to allow yourself time to stop. Motorcycles can accelerate and stop more quickly than you may expect, and tailgating may lead to a disastrous accident.
Watching out for motorcycles goes beyond giving them space. For instance, you shouldn’t rely on turn signals before making a decision about where to go in traffic, since motorcycle turn signals may not cancel automatically after making a turn. Motorcycles are also allowed a full lane width to drive in, so don’t crowd a motorcycle into the same lane as your vehicle.
Keeping Safe on a Motorcycle
Abiding by the rules of the road should always be a priority, but they are especially important for those who ride motorcycles. One poor error could be a deadly mistake.
Before your next ride, check out these safety tips:
- Wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet can easily make the difference between life and death during an accident. The use of helmets saved 1,859 lives just in 2016. While the laws surrounding the use of helmets vary by state, you will always be better off wearing a helmet, regardless of the legal requirement.
- Dress correctly. No matter how hot the day is, you don’t want to be riding a motorcycle in a t-shirt and shorts. Covering your body with gloves, a jacket and full-length pants helps to keep you protected from road rash if you crash. Consider sticking to bright or reflective colors so that others on the road can see you.
- Be careful of the weather. When the roads get slick, your likelihood of getting in a crash skyrockets. Rain and snow remove traction from the asphalt, making it incredibly easy to turn a simple stop into a slide into a ditch. Either avoid harsh weather conditions entirely or handle them with the utmost care.
- Don’t drive recklessly. Driving a motorcycle already comes with a certain amount of danger, and intentionally reckless driving increases your chances of getting into an accident. Avoid speeding, weaving through lanes, tailgating and other risky driving maneuvers.
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