For people who want to feel the wind in their face, a motorcycle is the perfect escape. The fast and nimble nature of these vehicles makes them attractive to a wide range of people – not just your typical leather-wearing tough guy. But before hitting the open road, there are a few things newbie bikers need to know in order to stay safe.
How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents?
In 2018, the NHTSA reported 4,985 motorcycle fatalities in the United States. And while that was an almost 5 percent year-over-year decrease, bikers are still dramatically overrepresented in traffic fatalities.
Motorcycles offer very little protection for the riders. Unlike trucks and passenger vehicles, which have large metal frames, airbags, seatbelts, and other safety features, bikers have no protection. This leads to common motorcycle accident injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), limb amputations, burns, broken bones, facial fractures, road rash, and more.
4 Ways You Can Lower Your Risk of Injury
While there will always be some inherent risk involved in riding a motorcycle on the open road, smart preparation and proper training can dramatically lower your risk.
Here are some pointers:
1. Choose the Right Motorcycle
With so many different makes, models, styles, features, and prices, trying to choose your first motorcycle can feel like a massive undertaking. Where do you even begin?
The important thing to remember is that you aren’t marrying your bike. You can buy one today and then upgrade or swap it out in a few months. The key is to choose a bike that’s easy to maneuver, comfortable, and relatively well balanced. Cruisers are good for new riders. They have lower seats and more forgiving bodies (when compared to sport bikes).
2. Wear the Right Gear
When you’re on your bike, there’s very little between you and the asphalt. If you choose to wear shorts, flip-flops, and a ball cap, don’t be surprised when you end up a mangled mess after an accident. The right gear might not prevent you from every injury, but it could save your life. In particular, you need to wear a helmet, long-sleeve leather jacket, gloves, and protective boots.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has an acronym they call T-CLOCS. It stands for Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Stands. It’s their version of a quick safety inspection that every biker should perform before riding.
Whether you use the T-CLOCS method or your own personal checklist, it’s important that you’re doing some sort of inspection prior to hopping on your bike and cranking it up. This will help prevent serious issues that could impact the safety and performance of your ride.
4. Avoid These High-Risk Situations
A motorcycle accident can be caused by any number of factors, but the following factors and scenarios are responsible for a significant percentage of dangerous and deadly accidents:
- Did you know that 56 percent of motorcycle accidents involve crashes with other motor vehicles? And in 78 percent of these accidents, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front. (Just 5 percent of accidents involve a strike from the rear.) This is why it’s important to keep your eyes in front of you and to watch out for oncoming traffic.
- Cars making left-hand turns are extremely dangerous. These drivers are typically looking for cars and trucks, not motorcycles. Stay aware of cars in turn lanes by watching their tires.
- Lane splitting – which occurs when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of traffic to bypass other vehicles – is dangerous. And despite the fact that it’s illegal in most states, it still happens.
- As boring as it may sound, you can reduce your risk of a motorcycle accident by obeying the speed limit, taking slow turns, and keeping a safe distance between your bike and the vehicle in front of you.
If you can avoid these high-risk situations, you’ll be much safer. In fact, your risk of being involved in a serious accident will plummet.
Adding it All Up
You’re ultimately in control. By making smart choices, investing in the right training, and purchasing the right equipment, you can significantly reduce your risk of being involved in a serious or deadly accident. Now’s the time to implement these tips!