As we get closer to spring and the weather starts to get warmer, motorcyclists are undoubtedly eager to get back out on the road. However, it is important that riders do all they can to protect themselves and their passengers while on the road.
Despite safety advances and new technology, motorcycle accident-related deaths have actually been on an upward trend since the late 1990s. In fact, 4,976 motorcyclists were killed in collisions in 2016, more than double the number of deaths that occurred in 1997.
While some motorcycle accidents are unavoidable, taking a proactive approach to motorcycle safety can help reduce your risk of crash and injury.
You are required to have a motorcycle license to ride a motorcycle. Taking the courses necessary can increase your skill as a motorcyclist and better prepare you for potential hazards and emergency maneuvers. Other courses may even help lower your insurance costs.
When riding a motorcycle, you should always wear a helmet. Helmets significantly reduce your risk of suffering a serious head injury and death.
When purchasing a helmet, make sure it meets U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards. Approved helmets will be marked with a DOT symbol which can usually be found on the back of the helmet. Helmets may also be certified by the American National Standards Institute and the Snell Memorial Foundation.
Replace your helmet every five years, after an accident, or when it shows visible signs of damage – whichever occurs first.
Before you ride, check your bike and make sure it is ready for the road. This includes checking tires for proper inflation and good condition, checking that all brake/signal lights are functioning, and checking for signs of fluid or oil leaks.
If you intend to carry a passenger, adjust your bike’s suspension to compensate for the heavier than normal load.
Unless you are signaling, you should be seated at the center of your seat with both hands on the handlebars.
The truth is that as a motorcyclist you are at an increased risk of a serious accident than occupants other passenger vehicles. In general, you want to err on the side of caution assume that other drivers can’t see you. Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you and be on the lookout for vehicles making lane changes. Motorist do not always check for motorcyclists (although they should), so taking a defensive approach to driving is a must.
Remember to adhere to all traffic signs and laws just as you would in your vehicle. Also, remember that splitting lanes is illegal in most states and even when legal can confuse or aggravate other drivers.
Damaged roads and obstacles can be especially risky to motorcyclists. A motorcycle has less contact with the road than a car, making it more likely to skid out of control. There is also a possibility that you could be thrown over the handlebars. If you are unable to avoid an obstacle, try to slow down before riding over it. You should also rise slightly from your seat and brace yourself by gripping the handlebars.
You should never ride a motorcycle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Even legal drugs can leave you with reduced alertness, balance, and reaction time. Drowsiness can have a similar affect, so take brakes when necessary.
Weather can be a little sporadic in the spring, and inclement weather like rain and high winds can make riding more dangerous. Check your local forecast and prepare accordingly.
The weather may be getting warmer, but that does not mean you should forego proper clothing. Loose, flapping clothing and exposed skin are generally a bad idea when on a motorcycle. You should make sure your body, arms, and legs are well covered and your shoes or boots should cover your ankles.
Before you take a new or unfamiliar motorcycle in into traffic, take some time to become familiar with its handling and responsiveness in a controlled area.
If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced motorcycle injury attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to hear your claim. We can visit you wherever you reside, whether it be at your home, workplace, or at the hospital. Our firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Call us today for a free case review.