Whether you enjoy biking casually on the open road, or hugging sharp turns on a crotch rocket, motorcycling is an appealing activity that offers plenty of excitement. But it can also be a dangerous mode of transport for riders who aren’t prepared for all the challenges that come with it.
Seven Motorcycle Safety Tips
In order to ensure your time on the bike is safe, fun, and enjoyable, you should prioritize safety. This may look different, depending on when, where, and how you ride, but the following tips are fairly universal in application.
1. Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
All bikers are required to take a skills test before they can obtain their license. And depending on where you get yours, you may also be required to take a motorcycle safety course.
Even if you aren’t, you would be smart to do so on your own initiative. You’ll pick up a lot of solid information in these courses that will keep you safer.
2. Drivers Don’t Always See You
Drivers are looking for other cars. They aren’t necessarily expecting to see pedestrians, cyclists, or bikers on their intended route. Keep this in mind so you drive defensively.
Defensive driving isn’t necessarily about driving slowly. It’s about being particularly aware of your surroundings, having an escape path prepared, and taking all the proper precautions to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
3. Drivers Misjudge Your Speed
One of the biggest problems among vehicle drivers is that they don’t necessarily grasp how fast bikers may be traveling, even when they see them. The significant difference in size can alter their perceptions and make it appear as if you’re moving at a different speed from what you really are.
“A motorcycle is able to stop at a faster rate than most other vehicles on the road. This increases the odds of a rear-end collision with a car, truck or tractor-trailer that is following too closely,” Hardison & Cochran Attorneys at Law explain.
By the same token, car and truck drivers also have difficulty judging the speed of an oncoming bike correctly, which often prompts them to pull out in front of a motorcycle or change lanes without leaving you sufficient space. Keep this in mind, as well.
4. Helmets Are an Absolute Necessity
It doesn’t matter whether your state requires you to wear a helmet or not, you should have one on your head every single time you crank up your bike. According to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent and the risk of death by 37 percent. There’s nothing cool about leaving yours at home.
5.Check Your Bike Before Hitting the Road
Whether you’re heading out on a road trip or just a quick ride to the supermarket, you should always check your bike before hitting the pavement. Be on the lookout for wear and tear on the tires, signs of oil and gas leaks, and proper functioning of headlights and taillights. This may seem like overkill, but it only takes a few seconds.
6. Be Wary of Semi Trucks
“I do not ride next to semi trucks, and when I go to pass make sure to get in the drivers mirror so he/she knows I'm there,” industry professional Tigra Tsujikawa says. “I will go when I can pass quickly and safely. Large trucks cause wind turbulence and other drivers have trouble seeing a motorcycle around a large vehicle.”
Though semi trucks are especially dangerous, to some extent this is true with any vehicle that’s larger than you. Always make quick passes and never hang in someone’s blind spot. Even if you think vehicle operators can see you, they may not.
7. Avoid Bad Weather
Avoid bad weather if at all possible. Even if you aren’t worried about getting wet, remember that road conditions can change dramatically due to even the slightest presence of water or ice. Poor weather also limits visibility, which makes it harder for other drivers to see you.
Take Your Safety Seriously
It’s easy to assume you’ll be fine. In the grand scheme of things, your chances of being injured or killed in a motorcycle accident aren’t high. But the risk is certainly there.
And by heeding the foregoing advice, you can reduce many of the risks you would otherwise face.