Staying up to date on motorcycle safety might literally mean the difference between life and death on today’s dangerous roadways. With more drivers using cell-phones behind the wheel, driving while intoxicated, and failing to pay attention to the road, motorcyclists face a slew of threats during everyday commutes – not to mention poor weather and road hazards. Statistics show that motorcyclist deaths occurred 27 times more frequently than in other vehicles around the U.S. in 2014. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a beginner motorcyclist, follow these motorcycle safety tips to prevent becoming just another statistic in 2017:
#1. Wear Your Helmet
In 2017, research reveals that wearing a helmet is still the number one thing motorcyclists can do to reduce the risk of death in a crash. California law requires all motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets, but you shouldn’t only do so because law enforcement tells you to – wear a helmet to save your life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,630 lives in 2013. Helmets reduce the risk of death by at least 37% and the risk of injury by 69%. Traumatic brain injury is a major cause of death for motorcyclists. Increase your odds of avoiding this terrible fate for yourself by always wearing a helmet.
#2. Make Yourself Visible
Despite “Look twice, save a life” and related campaigns around the country, a large portion of all motorcycle accidents still result from a motorist failing to see a motorcycle before pulling out. Motorcycles are much more difficult to spot than typical motor vehicles. Combine this with driver distraction and you have a high potential for left-hand turn and T-bone accidents. Prevent these crashes by maximizing your visibility. Ride a brightly colored bike or wear bright clothing. Position yourself on the road so you are not riding in other drivers’ blind spots. Make sure all your lights are in working condition before hitting the road.
#3. Don’t Overestimate Your Abilities
It can be tempting to join your local biker gang and immediately head out on excursions with the pros, but be careful not to do too much too fast. Taking on a route, speed, or maneuver you aren’t ready for can lead to a catastrophic accident. Ride with people you know or trust, and resist the urge to show off for your friends. Make sure you are properly licensed and have plenty of practice operating your motorcycle before driving on busy roads. Know how to handle your ride in inclement weather conditions and how to react to roadway hazards such as loose gravel or potholes.
#4. Keep a Safe Hog
Many motorcycle accidents result from an owner’s failure to properly maintain the vehicle. Before every ride, perform a routine maintenance check to ensure everything is in working order. Check fluid levels, signal indicators, headlights, brakes, and tire pressure. If you’re carrying a passenger or cargo, make sure to balance your load and adjust the suspension and tire pressure for the extra weight. Proper maintenance can prevent harmful equipment failures at dangerous moments, such as on the middle of a bridge or speeding down a hill.
#5. Always Ride Sober
In 2013, studies found that fatal motorcycle accidents had the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers than any other type of vehicle. The percentages were 27% for motorcycles, 23% for passenger cars, and 21% for trucks. In the same year, 40% of all motorcyclists who died in single-vehicle crashes had alcohol impairment at the time of collision. Drugs and alcohol take the lives of hundreds of motorcyclists every year. Stay away from prescription drugs that affect your judgment, balance, alertness, reaction time, and coordination. Always be drug and alcohol free before getting behind the handlebars of your motorcycle.