Summer is rapidly approaching and the desire to hit the open road on your motorcycle is growing more intense by the day. As you head out, don’t forget that you will be riding the most vulnerable vehicle on the road. Since a motorcycle has a much smaller profile, it can sometimes be difficult for other drivers to judge your speed and distance or even notice you at all. Here are some important safety tips to make your summer more enjoyable and help prevent motorcycle accidents:
- Always wear a helmet – Since you don’t have a seat belt, a helmet can be the most important piece of equipment you can wear when riding a motorcycle. It most cases, the helmet will be the only source of protection you will have in a serious crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, 706 lives could have been saved in 2010. It is estimated that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatalities for drivers and 41 percent effective for passengers.
- Avoid speeding – Of all vehicles on the road, motorcycles can accelerate the fastest. According to the NHTSA, in 2010, 35 percent of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were exceeding the posted speed limit.
- Avoid alcohol use – An NHTSA study reported that in 2010, 28 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration over .08 percent, the national definition of drunk driving. The highest percentage of motorcyclists who were alcohol impaired was in the 40 to 44 age group, with the 45-49 age group ranking second.
- Stay out of “blind spots” – Trucks and other large vehicles have blind spots on both sides of the vehicle, as well as, in the front and back. If you are riding in one of these blind spots, the driver cannot see you. Stay out of these areas to avoid the chance of a crash.
- Obey laws of the road – Your bike provides virtually no protection in the event of a crash. You must pay close attention to signals and brake lights of other vehicles and even though you may be small, you must obey the laws of the road. Never ride between lanes or share the lane with another vehicle. Never act aggressively with other drivers on the road.
- Safety Inspection – Before each ride, you should conduct a safety inspection of your motorcycle and provide protective clothing, gloves, boots, and helmets for each person who will be riding the bike. Proper bike maintenance and protective clothing will help reduce the chance of a crash or the severity of injury if you are involved in an accident.
Motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle driver on the roadway. With the increased popularity of motorcycles as a means of transportation, comes an increase in the number of motorcycle accidents and deaths. Just as motorcyclists can take steps to stay safe on the road, drivers of larger vehicles must learn how to best share the road.