Sharing the Roadways with Motorcycles Safety Tips
The freedom of the open road with the wind in your face. The ability to accelerate and maneuver quickly. The complete disregard for your safety by vehicles. Riding a motorcycle definitely has its ups and downs. And with less protection for the rider, riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. Motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to have a fatality crash than automobile drivers, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. And, older bikers over age 60 are three times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash that their younger counterparts.
A majority of motorcycle wrecks are caused by careless drivers. In crashes involving cars and motorcycles, the driver of the car is at fault 60% of the time, according to a study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research.
Did you know a motorcycle can be completely hidden from sight merely by holding up a stick of chewing gum?
As we head into fall, here are important safety tips for both motorcyclists and automobile drivers to be aware of to reduce their risks of being in an accident. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle crash, click the link to learn more about recovering damages due to a motorcycle accident.
Safety Tips for Auto Drivers Regarding Motorcyclists
- Always allow extra distance between you and a motorcycle, particularly when they are ahead of you. Rear ending a motorcyclist is often fatal. And, if they take a spill, this will allow you enough reaction time to avoid the driver and any passenger.
- Be very careful when passing motorcycles. Gusts of wind created by passing the bike can blow it off the road. Signal so the biker knows you intend to pass. Create ample space before and after passing when changing lanes.
- Intersections are dangerous when it comes to motorcycle safety. Turning out in front of a motorcycle causes many crashes. Look very carefully before turning and proceed slowly.
- Be extra alert in poor weather conditions. Reduced visibility means motorcycles are even harder to see.
- Be sure to turn off your high beam headlights when approaching a motorcycle coming from the opposite direct after dark.
- Never try to share a lane in close proximity with a motorcycle.
- Activate your turn signal sooner than you normally would when a motorcycle is behind you in order to give them ample time to respond by slowing down or changing lanes.
- Many motorcycles still do not have self-cancelling turn signals that deactivate after a certain time period. If you are following a biker with his turn signal on for an extended period, increase your following distance to allow more reaction time when the biker does finally turn.
- Be extra vigilant for approaching motorcycles when making left turns. Failure to see a bike when turning across traffic often results in the motorcycle T-boning the vehicle and causing serious injury or death to the motorcyclist.
- Carefully check your blind spots every time! Motorcycles can be difficult to see. You cannot rely on your mirrors to spot motorcycles.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
- Be sure to purchase the right bike. Don’t buy a bigger bike than you can handle. Make sure both feet rest comfortably flat on the ground when seated on the bike. Handlebars and controls should be easy to reach. You should be able to easily place the bike on its center stand. Motorcycles with smaller engines ranging from 200 to 300 ccs are great commuter bikes. Bikes with 500-750 cc engines are better for highway riding.
- Be sure to invest in antilock brakes for your motorcycle. This feature helps you to retain control of your steering when you must stop quickly or in bad weather conditions. It is worth the extra price, which may be offset by savings on your insurance.
- Take a formal motorcycle riding training and safety course. Besides the basics, you will learn how to preform evasive emergency procedures.
- Check the bike carefully before each ride – do the horn, turn signals and lights all work? Inspect the tires for wear and tear. Look for signs of oil or gas leaks. Check coolant and hydraulic fluid levels weekly. Keep mirrors clean and properly adjusted. Are your clutch, throttle and brakes operating properly?
- When riding, position your bike so as to not be in other drivers’ blind spots.
- Avoid driving your motorcycle in poor weather conditions.
- Use your turn signals for every lane change and turn.
- Helmets save lives. Invest in a Department of Transportation approved full-face helmet. Replace your helmet every five years due to deterioration and to ensure you have the most up-to-date safety features and designs.
- Wearing the right gear such as leather jackets or padded ventilated summer jackets, gloves, full-length pants and shoes that protect your ankles will help protect your body better from flying debris and road rashes in accidents. Choose brightly colored gear to make you more visible. Consider adding reflective tape to your gear to further increase your visibility.
- Drive defensively by maintaining safe distances to help avoid drivers who don’t see you or road debris. Always be alert and sober. Don’t speed. Watch for road hazards and slow down when you see them. Cross railroad tracks at right angles to avoid skids.
- Follow all traffic rules.
- Be especially alert at intersections.
Stay safe and alive – live to ride another day. If you need information about a motorcycle crash for yourself or your loved one, see our article on motorcycle crashes.