Motorcycling is a popular hobby, both for the thrill of the open road and the economic benefits from using a vehicle with a high miles-per-gallon gas rating. These vehicles, however, are in a precarious position on the roadways compared to cars. Fortunately, there are many motorcycle riding tips that motorcyclists can use to improve safety and ultimately have fun on the roadways.
Tips for Riding a Motorcycle Safely
Unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles are not caged vehicles, and the driver is exposed to many dangers on the bike. If the driver loses balance, he or she will fall directly against the hard road, leading to many serious injuries. Because of this disadvantage, it’s important for motorcyclists to be careful on the roads and know the following motorcycle riding tips.
Below are some safety and general motorcycle riding tips:
- Wear a helmet: The National Highway Traffic Safety Association deduces that helmets may prevent a motorcycle death by as much as 37 percent. In less serious accidents, helmets can prevent other injuries as well. Essentially, a helmet acts to attenuate the impact to the rider’s head. It takes the brunt of the impact instead of the rider.
- Wear seasonal protective safety gear: Full pants, a jacket, gloves and high ankle shoes are necessary to ride a motorcycle, in addition to a helmet. These clothes need to be made of a durable material like leather or ballistic nylon. If the rider takes a fall, the clothes prevent him or her from suffering road rash and other abrasions. It’s also good to have sturdy shoes to control the bike.
- Don’t drink and drive or speed: Nobody can argue with this motorcycle-riding tip. According to Nolo, the legal encyclopedia, drinking, driving and speeding are a factor more than 50 percent of motorcycle accidents. Intoxication reduces a rider’s reaction times and increases his or her propensity to take risks, while speeding decreases the margin of error the rider has to prevent accidents.
- Know dangerous riding situations: Drivers often complain of not being able to see motorcyclists, and this can lead to accidents. One situation in particular, where the driver makes a left turn in front of the motorcycle’s path, contributes to many car-motorcycle accidents.
- Take a motorcycle safety course: Motorcycle safety courses cover riding techniques, safety and often can help riders obtain their licenses.
- Watch for road conditions: Oil, gas, rain, ice, antifreeze, leaves, pebbles, potholes and sand can affect motorcycles’ traction more than cars because they have less contact with the road. Riders should scan the road to avoid these hazards.
Common Motorcycle Laws Across the Nation
In the United States, 21 states have universal helmet laws, while another 27 states require helmets for some age groups — usually riders younger than 18 or 21 years old. Three states have no helmet law at all. Seasoned bikers and healthcare workers often list wearing a helmet at the very top of their lists of tips for riding a motorcycle.
Some other common motorcycle regulations and requirements include:
- eye protection;
- rearview mirrors;
- handlebar height;
- passenger seats;
- footrests; and
- daytime running headlights.
Riders can check with their local Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State’s office for more information on motorcycle laws.
What happens after a motorcycle accident?
After an accident, the rider should collect the:
- accident report;
- other driver’s insurance and contact information;
- witness information; and
- photos from the accident scene.
Depending on the state, the rider either can file a claim with his or her no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance or the other motorist’s liability insurance company. Perhaps one more motorcycle riding tip would be to carry as much insurance as you can on your bike.
No-fault insurance states require riders to buy insurance that covers their injuries, regardless of whether they were at fault in the accident. Fault insurance states compel all motorists to carry liability insurance. The not-at-fault motorist files a claim with the other motorist’s liability insurance in these states.
Fault in an accident is governed by the concept of negligence — failing to use reasonable care to prevent harm to others. Depending on the state, one motorist may be barred from recovering damages for an accident if his or her actions went beyond a certain degree of negligence. If you follow the above-listed motorcycle riding tips, it is likely that you will not be found guilty of contributing to the cause of an accident.
The law firm of Gacovino, Lake, and Associates monitors motorcycle laws and accidents across the nation. You can download our motorcycle accident guidebook or sign up for our monthly newsletter for more information on tips for riding a motorcycle.