With spring rapidly approaching, motorcycle aficionados, both new and experienced, are gearing up across the country. While riding on a motorcycle can be freeing, thrilling, and exhilarating, it’s an inherently dangerous activity.
In one recent year, almost 5000 motorcyclists in the U.S. died in wrecks.
Motorcycles only have two wheels and none of the protective elements of a passenger vehicle. Motorcycles aren’t very stable, and if you do get into an accident, even one that would be minor if you were in a car, you have a much higher risk of sustaining serious or deadly injuries.
Motorcycles are small and less visible than other types of vehicles, but the actions that motorcyclists take can also make their experience much riskier.
For example, speed, reckless driving, and driving under the influence are often factors in deadly motorcycle accidents.
Along with not doing the wrong things, there are some right things motorcyclists can do to reduce their risk level.
Do You Have the Right Motorcycle?
A lot of how safe you’re going to be begins before you ever actually get on your motorcycle.
If you’re thinking about investing in a motorcycle, you need one that’s appropriate for beginners. You’ll also need to work with the motorcycle shop to find the right size for your height and weight.
Get Your Gear Right
There’s too often the idea that you want to “look cool” when you’re on a motorcycle. That shouldn’t be a priority or even a consideration really. The proper gear can save your life.
No matter how hot it is or what you want to look like, you need protection if you slide.
You want a reinforced jacket as well as pants and boots, and you also need goggles or glasses if you have a helmet with an open face. Wear gloves and never get on your bike with a helmet approved by the DOT.
If it’s hot outside, there is gear designed with ventilation.
Be Honest with Yourself About Your Abilities
Never take on more than you can handle when you’re on a motorcycle. Don’t get ahead of yourself if you’re a new rider, and give yourself time to practice and get comfortable with riding.
It’s okay to practice in neighborhoods or parking lots and then work your way up as you get more comfortable.
There are cyclists who have been on the road for years and still don’t feel like they know everything.
Before you have a passenger, you also need to make sure that you’re ready for that and that the rider is going to know enough to keep you both safe.
If you have no experience riding a motorcycle, think about taking classes. You can do a school-based setting, or you can pay for private lessons.
Check the Weather
Never head out on your motorcycle without checking the weather first. You need to dress appropriately and avoid hazardous conditions like snow or rain.
Don’t Ride Tired
Before you ride a motorcycle you need to feel fresh and well-rested. This will ensure that you can stay alert to everything happening around you, and you’re less likely to slip up and make a potentially deadly mistake.
It’s also a good idea to avoid riding when you’re feeling too stressed or upset about something because this can take your focus and attention off the road and what you’re doing.
Consider Yourself Invisible
Every time you’re on your bike, consider yourself invisible. That’s because nearly every time there’s a motorcycle accident involving another vehicle, the vehicle driver says they didn’t see the person on the bike.
Drivers see other cars, but not necessarily bikes. A motorcycle also has a narrow profile, so you’re frequently in the blind spot of other drivers.
Along with assuming you’re invisible, always practice defensive driving.
Try to predict the behavior of other drivers and expect the worst. You should always be scanning, looking, and thinking about what’s happening around you.
You can make yourself a little less invisible with what you wear. Black and brown clothing is going to further your invisibility. Instead, wear safety gear that’s bright and neon.
Finally, always look where you want to go. This is rule 101 when it comes to riding a motorcycle. If you look at a curb, you’re probably going to hit it. Look for a clear spot where you want to go at all times to help keep yourself calm and confident.