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Motorcycle Safety Tips

Motorcycles are extremely popular in this country.  Anyone that has ridden one knows they are a lot of fun and fuel efficient.  But anyone that has ridden one also knows they can be very dangerous.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than someone in a car.  Frequently, this is because a driver of a vehicle simply didn’t see the motorcyclist.  But you may be surprised to learn that half of all motorcycle accident deaths are single vehicle accidents.

The data is even worse for older riders.  Riders are frequently either starting to ride later in life or returning to motorcycling.  Statistics show that riders over 60 are three times more likely to be hospitalized after an accident than younger riders.

There are steps you can take to keep yourself safe.  There are two simple steps that are completely within a rider’s control.  First, do not drink and ride. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, alcohol was a factor in 42 percent of fatal accidents.  Second, do not speed.  According to the Institute, 48 percent of fatal accidents involved speeding.  These are two simple, basic steps you can take to greatly increase your odds of avoiding a fatal accident.

There are a number of other steps you can take to make riding a motorcycle safer.

Buy a Motorcycle Equipped With Anti-lock Brakes

We take antilock brakes in our cars for granted, but they are also widely available on many models of motorcycles.  It is common for motorcycle riders to panic in a dangerous event and slam on the brakes.  That will cause the rider to lose all ability to steer the motorcycle.  This can cause the rider to skid and crash.  Antilock brakes have been found to reduce fatal crashes by 37 percent.  Even if a rider panics and slams on the brakes, the rider will still maintain control of the motorcycle with antilock brakes.  Antilock brakes are even more important in slippery weather conditions.

Buy the Right Motorcycle For You

This can mean a number of things.  Do not get a motorcycle with too much engine.  Today’s motorcycles are much more powerful than motorcycles of the past.

Buy a motorcycle that fits you physically.  You should be able to put both of your feet flat on the ground.  You should be able to manipulate all of the controls easily.  The motorcycle should not feel too heavy for you to handle.

Buy a motorcycle that fits the manner in which you intend to use it.  If you are going to simply use it as a commuter bike around town, you only need a smaller motorcycle.  You may need a larger motorcycle if you plan on highway driving or cross country travel.

Wear a Helmet

Failing to wear a helmet has a significant impact on injuries in an accident.  This includes a 40 percent increase in fatalities and three times greater occurrence of brain injuries.  For many riders, wearing a helmet is a very emotional issue.  They do not want the government telling them what to do.  Ironically, many motorcycle riders that do not wear helmets would not consider driving their cars without a seat belt.  When states repeal helmet laws they see a dramatic increase in fatalities.  For example, when Texas repealed its helmet law, fatalities increased 31 percent.  When Arkansas did so, it saw an increase in fatalities of 21 percent.

The evidence is clear, helmets save lives and prevent brain injuries.  The best helmets are full face helmets that have been approved by the Department of Transportation.  An independent organization, the Snell Memorial Foundation, recommends replacing helmets every five years or whenever they are involved in a crash.  Helmets can deteriorate over time and will not be as effective if damaged in an accident.

Become a Better Motorcycle Rider

Motorcycle riders all have different skill levels.  Do not assume you are a perfect rider equipped to handle any emergency.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has training classes around the country.  Cost varies, from free to $350.  However, some insurance companies offer discounts for graduates of the classes.  Some motorcycle manufacturers will even discount the purchase price on a motorcycle if you can provide proof of class attendance.

Wear Proper Clothing

Nobody thinks they are going to have a crash today, but dress as though you will.  Specifically, you want to do everything you can to avoid road rash if you crash.  Wear heavy clothing such as leather or other reinforced materials – even in summer.  You may also consider brightly colored clothes.  Motor vehicle drivers that hit motorcyclists often say they did not see the motorcycle; bright clothes can increase visibility.

Don’t Ride in Bad Weather

It is not always possible to predict the weather, but if possible, avoid riding your motorcycle in bad weather.  Much like a motor vehicle, a motorcycle’s tires lose grip on the road.  Rain also causes any oil on the road to float to the surface, making driving conditions even worse.  If you have to ride your motorcycle in bad weather, be cautious with acceleration, braking and cornering.  If there are strong winds, anticipate any potential side push and position yourself in the driving lane appropriately.

Be a Defensive Driver

Studies have shown that in accidents involving cars and motorcycles, cars are at fault 60 percent of the time.  Remember that, unfortunately, drivers are frequently distracted by things like their smart phones, texting or playing games, unruly children, and general distractions.  Be wary of vehicles suddenly changing lanes.

Beware of Road Hazards

Road hazards that may not affect a motor vehicle can cause major problems for a motorcycle.  Even small pebbles and leaves can cause a rider to lose control of the motorcycle.  Potholes and bumps should also be avoided.

Inspect Your Motorcycle Regularly

Walk all around your motorcycle and inspect it.  Make sure all of your motorcycle’s parts and lights are functioning properly.  Check your tires.  Under-inflation of tires can make handling your motorcycle extremely difficult.

If You Have Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to be compensated for your injuries.  Contact the dedicated Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to discuss your case with you at no charge.

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Seth Bader
(678) 562-5595