Riding motorcycles can be exhilarating, and a perfect way to travel in the summer. However, they can also be a more dangerous form of travel. They tend to be less visible, while also being fast and highly maneuverable, meaning they’re more likely to be hit by vehicles and more likely to lose control on their own. On top of that, motorcycle riders are less protected than their car-driving counterparts, since they aren’t protected by a sturdy frame, airbags, or seatbelts. To make matters worse, insurance companies often try to blame motorcycles for accidents—even when they’re not at fault.
Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to reduce your risk of accidents, while also reducing the potential severity of your injuries.
Increasing Your Motorcycle Safety
These are some of the best ways to improve your safety:
- Increase your visibility. Many motorcycle accidents unfold because the rider isn’t visible enough; a driver plows into the bike because the driver simply didn’t know it was there. You can protect against this by improving your visibility. You can start by wearing clothes or adorning your bike with materials that are easier to see, like bright colors. You can also ride toward the edges of lanes, so you’re less likely to go unnoticed.
- Understand your skill level. Too many motorcyclists, especially new ones, overestimate their abilities. They get excited to ride something fast and powerful, and end up buying a bike that’s too much for them to handle, or riding too aggressively. It’s much better to understand your skill level and ride comfortably below that level. It’s not as exciting, but it’s much, much safer.
- Improve your skills constantly. Skill is vital in avoiding motorcycle accidents; the majority of accidents where the motorcycle is responsible are due to the rider losing control of the vehicle. Learning how to get around curves, how and when to accelerate, and how and when to brake can bail you out of even a bad situation. If you can, try to practice in an area with little to no traffic, like a track or an abandoned road. Ride in different conditions as well, so you don’t get too comfortable in one environment.
- Wear protective gear. Always wear a helmet. You may be legally required to wear one, and even if you aren’t, wearing one can easily save your life. That’s not the only protective gear you should wear, however. It’s important to wear thick, long-sleeved clothes; if you have any exposed skin on your arms, legs, or feet, you could suffer serious injuries if you’re thrown from the bike.
- Ride defensively. Every vehicle on the road should be driving defensively, and this is even more important for motorcyclists. When driving defensively, you’ll give more space between yourself and the other cars on the road. You’ll look far ahead, to the horizon, so you can spot changes in the road further ahead (and give yourself more time to react). You’ll also effectively control your speed, and practice less aggressive driving, especially when other drivers are around.
- Keep your motorcycle in good shape. If your motorcycle experiences a mechanical failure, you may be completely unable to prevent a crash on the road. For example, if you’re unable to brake or if your steering is off, it could easily lead to a collision. You can prevent this by tuning your bike up regularly, and keeping it in the best shape possible.
- Be cautious in dangerous weather. This should be an obvious tip for any driver, but it’s especially important for nimble motorcycles; always take extra caution when dealing with inclement weather. Rain, snow, and fog can all interfere with your ability to ride safely, and change how it feels to ride.
- Stay on the highways. You may instinctively believe that highways are more dangerous for motorcyclists, but the opposite may actually be true; the vast majority of motorcycle accidents occur on non-interstate roads. Highways tend to have higher speed limits, and therefore faster traffic, but this traffic is steadier and easier to predict. On top of that, you’ll have more lanes, more space, and more visibility, which collectively lead to much safer riding conditions.
If You’re Involved in an Accident
Even if you follow all the precautions listed above, there’s a chance you could be injured in a motorcycle accident. If this happens to you, it’s important to stay calm and get to safety as soon as possible. Document the accident the best you can, and contact emergency services. After you get treatment for your injuries, talk to a lawyer to make sure you get the compensation you deserve—and that you aren’t neglected by the insurance companies involved.