Riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience that brings a sense of freedom and fun. Unfortunately, motorcycle riding can also be a dangerous mode of transportation. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s (GHASA) most recent study on motorbike safety, motorcycle drivers have a fatality rate 28 times higher than other motorists. Though motorcycles only make up 3% of registered vehicles in the US, their owners account for roughly 14% of all crash fatalities in the country. Back in 2017, 5,172 motorcyclists and their passengers died in road accidents.
Motorcycle awareness is an issue that driver education programs should emphasize to prevent further crashes from occurring. Until then, you must be hypervigilant about your safety on the road. There are many ways you can protect yourself to avoid an accident or significant personal injury. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned rider, you should use these motorcycle safety tips to prevent a motorcycle accident.
Awareness Can Save Your Life
Every driver should practice defensive techniques while they are on the road. Defensive drivers maintain full awareness and take all the precautions they can to prevent road accidents. They also drive under the law, and always take the road and traffic conditions into account.
Defensive driving techniques aren’t only for car drivers. Motorcyclists also need to practice safe driving habits and must be aware of their surroundings. When you’re riding, remember to scan the area around you and check for:
- Other vehicles
- Upcoming stops or intersections
- Road hazards like potholes
- Construction zones
- Severe weather conditions
One of the top motorcycle safety tips is to anticipate the actions of the drivers around you. You may be doing what you can to stay visible, but other drivers may accelerate suddenly or change lanes without noticing you. It’s easy to assume that other drivers are as aware as you are, but that isn’t always the case.
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Decrease Your Risk of an Accident
You can lower your risk of a motorcycle accident by steering clear of the following circumstances:
Riding in Groups
Riding on your own already requires a significant amount of vigilance. Though a group ride can make for a fun time, it’s challenging to coordinate a safe drive alongside other motorcyclists. You may feel pressured by other bikers to drive at speeds you’re uncomfortable with or make maneuvers you have little experience making. Furthermore, other drivers may not know how to interact with you and your friends on the road. They could make uneducated decisions that could endanger you.
If you want to ride with a friend or group, position yourself based on your level of expertise. If you’re a more experienced driver than your peers, you should lead at the front of the road. If you are a newer motorcyclist, you should drive behind as a follower, allowing enough stopping space between you and the motorist in front. Remember to maintain a speed that feels comfortable to you. Some road conditions allow for side-by-side driving. But if you encounter a narrow road or a sharp turn, you should form a single file line to allow yourself more space to maneuver your bike.
Lane splitting can lead to serious injury or death. This practice is legal in California, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hazardous. Lane splitting is the act of riding your motorcycle between two lanes on the road. In high-traffic areas, lane splitting saves time because motorcyclists can weave through the traffic, instead of being stuck in the congestion. California law requires that cars must give motorcyclists a safe amount of space to pass, but this doesn’t mean that all drivers will. Lane-splitting motorcyclists could be cut off by drivers who switch lanes without checking their rearview mirror or their blindspots.
Riding Above Your Skill Level
If you are new to riding, only drive your motorcycle in conditions in which you can assure your safety and that of others. Riding with a passenger takes more skill and practice. A motorcyclist must be able to balance their bike with extra weight and know how to stop without throwing their passenger off the bike. If you don’t feel confident driving on the highway or at night, stick to using roads during the day.
Ensure Your Safety
It’s important to decrease your risk of an accident in every way you can. However, keeping your risk low doesn’t guarantee complete safety. Bringing your bike in for scheduled service and wearing protective gear are both effective ways to keep yourself ready for any situation.
Maintain Your Bike
Don’t let your motorcycle be the reason for an accident. Bring your bike in for scheduled maintenance, as recommended by your owner’s manual or mechanic. You or your service professional should check to make sure that:
- Your bike’s engine is functioning correctly
- Your anti-lock braking system works
- Your safety systems (vehicle stability control, rear lift-off protection, etc.) are working
- Your tires still have traction, with no punctures or air leaks
Wear the Right Gear
All California motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear protective headgear while driving. Though states like Illinois and Iowa do have looser helmet laws, you should always wear a helmet anywhere you choose to ride. A full-face helmet protects your head from chin to crown, should you ever experience a crash. A half-helmet, which doesn’t offer any jaw/face protection, is a more traditional look among low-ride motorcyclists. If you want the best protection possible, a full-face helmet is best.
Never buy your helmet used; used helmets do not provide adequate safety in an accident. Buy your helmet brand new, and maintain it properly to assure your safety on the road.
You need more than a helmet if you want to be fully protected. No matter the weather or how short the ride, it’s vital to wear All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT). ATGATT means wearing items that are made specifically for motorcycle riding:
- Leather jacket with armor
- Riding jeans
- Reinforced Boots
- Gloves (fully fingered)
Of course, you can choose items that match the style of your bike. If you’re a Harley rider, you’ll probably opt for a black leather jacket and matching boots. If you ride a sportbike, you may wear a flashy colored jacket that matches your ride. Either way, you should be wearing all the necessary components of a complete riding outfit. Remember: your gear won’t last forever. Inspect your motorcycle safety gear every so often for signs of wear.
Take Annual Rider Safety Courses
Whether you’re new to motorcycle riding or you’re an experienced biker, perfecting your skills with an annual safety class is always a good idea. Annual rider safety courses teach additional motorcycle safety tips, such as using proper distancing and avoiding reckless behavior that could lead to an accident.
These courses promote good driving habits and allow new riders to feel more confident on the road. There are also advanced classes available to seasoned riders, which offer more complex safety procedures like high-speed braking and obstacle avoidance.
Speak With a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Many motorcycle accidents are preventable. However, collisions can happen even after exercising these motorcycle safety tips. If you or a loved one has gone through a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles, don’t seek damages on your own. The advice of a motorcycle accident lawyer helps ensure proper compensation for your losses. You can trust the experienced attorneys at Hodes Milman, LLP to handle your injury case.
Hodes Milman, LLP has more than 100 combined years of experience in cases involving motorcycle accidents, personal injury, and wrongful death. If you have recently been injured while riding, we understand what you are going through. We take your questions and concerns seriously and put your needs at the top of our priority list. Get in touch with us today at (949) 640-8222 for a free consultation. We will guide you through your next steps to securing the justice you deserve.