The U.S. Department of Transportation reports there has been an increase in motorcycle ownership in recent years. This upward trend in motorcycle riding has sparked discussion about safety issues. As more people hit the open road on two wheels, the number of accidents causing property damage, injuries and fatalities have increased.
The experts at ColoradoLaw.net have handled a number of cases involving motorcycle accidents. They note that statistics from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) clearly show motorcyclists are at much greater risk of injury and death compared to people driving vehicles. After an accident, many automobile drivers can walk away while motorcyclists can be seriously injured.
Both motorcycle riders and car drivers need to be aware of what’s happening on the road at all times in order to avoid accidents. Below are other essential steps that have to be taken to protect yourself while you’re on two wheels.
Check Your Motorcycle Before Every Ride
If you take a basic motorcycle riding course, the first thing they will teach you is how to inspect the motorcycle before starting it up. A malfunction isn’t just an inconvenience. For motorcyclists, it can cause a serious accident.
The parts that need to be checked before each ride include:
- Turn Signals
You need to continue checking your motorcycle before every ride. Each year you also need to check local motorcycle laws and your insurance as well to make sure you’re completely compliant.
Always Wear Safety Gear
When you’re riding a motorcycle there’s not much between you and the road. That’s part of the thrill, but it also means you’re at risk for serious injury if you go down or get in an accident.
Safety gear is specially designed to protect your body from injury, but it can also make the motorcycle ride more comfortable. This in and of itself can help reduce the chance of an accident. Wearing a motorcycle jacket, gloves and boots are important, but a DOT-approved helmet is the #1 piece of safety gear that should be worn. Head injuries are the number one cause of death in motorcycle accidents and approved helmets are proven to reduce brain injury by 67%.
Safety gear is particularly important at night when motorcycles are even less visible. You should carry a reflective vest with you just in case you’re riding after dark.
Know the Local Laws of the Road
As mentioned above, it’s important to know the rules of the road. If not, you could accidentally break the law and put yourself at risk of wrecking. Following the law includes keeping your license up-to-date. In 2013, 25% of motorcyclists that were in fatal crashes didn’t have a valid motorcycle license.
Never Drive Impaired
Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2013 impaired motorcyclists were involved in more fatal accidents than impaired vehicle drivers. That year 27% of motorcyclists in fatal crashes had blood alcohol levels above 0.08%.
The worst thing any driver can do, whether they’re driving a motorcycle or a car, is operate a vehicle while impaired. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs dramatically increases the chance of an accident because reaction time is slowed and judgment is altered. Impaired drivers are also more likely to take part in risky behavior like speeding and aggressive driving.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Today there are a lot of distractors that can hinder drivers. Even though motorcyclists are less likely to get distracted by phones, radios, passengers, etc. that doesn’t mean you can relax. You have to be on the look out for other drivers that aren’t paying attention to the road. If drivers are swerving, have poor throttle control or looking down, these are signs that something else has their attention.
Protect Yourself With Adequate Insurance
It’s important to protect yourself by driving safely, but you also need protection after you get in an accident. This advice holds true for all drivers. Because you’re at a higher risk for injury on a motorcycle, it’s highly advisable to get the most coverage you can possibly afford.
In addition to collision insurance that covers damage to the motorcycle, you’ll need substantial liability coverage to cover the cost of injuries sustained during an accident. Liability coverage is often required by law, which is just one more reason to make sure your insurance is adequate and up-to-date.
Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to be killed in an accident compared to people in an automobile. You have to take every safety precaution possible to protect yourself so you can keep on riding the open road.