Wind on your face…hair blowing in the breeze…the sound of a purring engine. There’s nothing quite like riding a motorcycle on the open road! But if you’re going to ride motorcycles, you have to understand the risks you face and prioritize your safety.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Cars offer protection in the form of seatbelts and heavy metal frames. With a motorcycle, there’s very little safeguarding you from the road and other vehicles. Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that motorcycle accidents tend to be more dangerous. Here’s a look at some of the most recent statistics:
- Motorcycles account for 14 percent of all traffic deaths (despite representing a much smaller portion of vehicles on the road).
- There are more than 5,000 motorcycle-related deaths in the United States each year.
- Nearly one-third of all fatal bike accidents involve alcohol.
- 75 percent of all motorcycle crashes involve frontal (or head-on) collisions.
- More than 88,000 motorcyclists are injured in accidents each year.
While American roads have gotten safer over the years, motorcycles are still a huge safety risk. You’re certainly justified in your right to ride a motorcycle – and it can be lots of fun – but make sure you’re aware of the risks.
6 Motorcycle Safety Tips
Apply the following motorcycle safety tips to reduce your risk of injury or death (and have more fun when riding):
- Buy the Right Bike
When shopping for a bike, make sure you choose the right one for you. Certain bikes might look cool, but how do they handle? More importantly, can you handle them?
Even some of today’s smallest bikes are far more powerful than they were just a decade ago. Make sure you’re not buying more bike than you can handle. Choose a model with good balance. You can always upgrade in the future.
- Invest in Antilock Brakes
Research shows that bikes equipped with antilock brakes (ABS) are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes that lack ABS. Thus you should always make sure that you’re buying bikes that have ABS built in. This can help you retain steering control during a sudden emergency stop.
- Take a Safety Course
Riding a motorcycle is not like riding a bike or driving a car. It’s a totally different animal. No matter how much experience you have driving other types of motor vehicles, you need to invest in motorcycle-specific training courses.
A good track school will teach you all of the safety tips you need to know within a safe environment. Most schools have different curriculum and courses, so look for a beginner course that covers the basics. After you get this course out of the way, you can try courses that focus on more niche skills.
- Wear the Right Gear
When riding a motorcycle, there’s no seatbelt, airbag, or windshield protecting you in an accident. The only thing you have is protective gear. So make sure you buy the right kind.
At a bare minimum, you need a helmet, eye protection, jacket, gloves, pants, boots, and rain gear. If you’re unsure of how to select these items, visit a local motorcycle shop and they’ll get you set up.
- Make Sure You’re Visible
It’s important to remember that most drivers are not actively looking for motorcycles. This makes it easy for them to overlook you.
“Maximum visibility is the key to avoiding accidents,” The Baum Law Firm explains. “If you’re riding a motorcycle, then it is important that you stay visible to other vehicles at all times. Always wear brightly colored, reflective clothing whenever you are on your motorcycle. In addition, you should keep your headlights on even during daytime driving.”
- Avoid High-Risk Scenarios
Most motorcycle accidents stem from high-risk scenarios such as:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Alcohol consumption
- Lane splitting
- Sudden stops
- Left turns
- Inexperienced driver
- Motorcycle defects
- Dangerous road conditions (like potholes and slick surfaces)
Understanding and avoiding these scenarios will significantly lower your chances of being involved in a serious or deadly accident.
Putting it All Together
It’s impossible to eliminate all risk associated with riding motorcycles. However, by following the tips highlighted above, you can reduce your chances of being involved in a serious accident. Good luck and stay safe!