Motorcycle & Biking Safety Tips
Owning a motorcycle is like being a child with a strong imagination and a favorite toy. You can go virtually anywhere. However, children can sometimes make decisions that are not in their best interest, and adults can do it too. The main difference is a matter of consequences.
1. Wear Proper Gear
Is safety gear really essential? A study released by CDC researchers in June 2012 shows that helmet use from 2008 to 2010 prevented 37% of crash deaths for single riders, and 41% of crash deaths for passengers. This data comes from the 2008-2010 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), and from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). DOT-approved helmets, mesh jackets and other safety equipment are lifesavers.
2. Check Before You Ride
A loose chassis or poor tire tread is dangerous. Always check tire tread and pressure, fluid levels, lights, turn signals, brake/throttle controls, and the kickstand.
3. Use a Safe Following Distance
While it is important to avoid tailgating in case the vehicle in front brakes quickly, think also about the vehicle behind you. Putting enough distance between the vehicle in front grants more space to maneuver in case the driver behind you brakes too late.
4. Never Ride Next to a Truck…
…Or an 18-wheeler, or a bus. Big vehicles have large blind spots called No-Zones in the front, the rear and sides. They may change lanes due to DOT rules on a certain stretch of road, or because of a sudden change in traffic ahead. Avoid riding next to one to prevent being forced out of your lane.
5. Use Caution When Carrying a Passenger
Wouldn’t it be great if a passenger could act as an extra pair of eyes all the time? Riding is fun and passengers can become absorbed by the joy of the ride itself. Stay more alert than usual when carrying a passenger. A passenger may not be prepared for a certain sway, such as when avoiding an obstacle. Before riding, make sure your passenger knows where the grab bars are, if any, and what not to do in the case of a sudden stop.
6. Never Drink and Ride
According to NHTSA statistics for 2009, those who died in motorcycle crashes, with a blood alcohol content of 0.8 or greater, accounted for 43% of all motorcycle crash deaths. For other vehicles, 30% of crashes that resulted in death were due to alcohol impairment. So never drink and ride, and look out for impaired drivers in other vehicles.
7. You Are Responsible for Your Safety
Why all the negative statistics if licensed riders understand basic safety? Because “basic” safety cannot prepare riders adequately for the unique, unexpected conditions on the road. Being alert is the key to staying safe, and it’s a personal responsibility.
Each state offers advanced safety courses. Colleges, universities and driving schools also offer classes on extended motorcycle safety, covering a variety of topics including weather types and road conditions.