The rate of motorcycle ownership has been on the rise in recent years all across the US, with more and more people of all ages and from all walks of life making the choice to ride around on motorcycles, rather than choosing the more practical or logistical advantages of other vehicles, such as cars and SUVs.
There are many reasons for this. For instance, a lot of motorcycle enthusiasts love the thrilling feel of driving along the open road without being boxed in by walls and windows on all sides, and many people choose bikes for their maneuverability advantages or the fact that they tend to be cheaper to run and insure as well.
However, there are some downsides to motorcycles that balance out those aforementioned advantages, and one of the biggest concerns for any bike rider is safety: thousands of motorcyclists die every year in accidents, while countless more are injured, and statistics show that you’re up to 28 times more likely to die while riding a motorcycle than driving a car.
Still, in spite of these statistics and risks, many people make the choice to ride a motorcycle, and if you’re making that same choice, it’s important to do whatever you can to stay safe on the roads, protecting yourself, any passengers you might ride with, and other road users too. Here are some key safety tips to keep in mind.
The number one tip when it comes to motorcycle safety is making sure you wear a helmet at all times. This is a legal requirement in most states and most situations, but some riders still fail to follow the rules or ride around with hand-me-down helmets that simply aren’t able to offer sufficient levels of protection and care. Make sure you get a quality helmet, fitted to the size and shape of your head by a professional, for best results.
Other Safety Equipment
Helmets aren’t the only piece of safety gear you can use while riding a motorcycle. There are many other elements and accessories to take into consideration. Crash bars, for example, can be attached to the frame of your motorcycle to help reduce the risk of serious injuries if an accident does occur. Meanwhile, gloves can help to keep your hands safe, and proper attire can reduce the risk of road rash too.
As well as making sure you’ve got all the right safety gear before heading out on the road, you can also consider taking safety classes and lessons to improve your awareness of motorcycle safety and improve your odds of avoiding dangerous situations with other road users. Various classes are available, even online from the comfort of your own home, and can be helpful to keep your skills fresh.
Eyes on the Road
One of the top tips to provide for any road user, whether they’re a truck driver or a motorcyclist, is to make sure you keep your eyes on the road at all times. Don’t let yourself get distracted and don’t allow yourself to carry on riding if you feel like you’re getting fatigued or that your concentration levels are starting to slip. Make sure you stay alert, aware, and focused at all times, no matter what.
As well as staying alert and attentive of your surroundings, it’s also recommended to try and keep calm while you ride and avoid succumbing to the risks of road rage. This tip applies to any kind of driver, but it’s especially important for motorcyclists, as they can sometimes be more prone to road rage outbursts, due to the carelessness or negligence of other road users. Car and van drivers might swerve in front of you or get too close, but try to stay calm and drive defensively, instead of getting aggressive.
This follows on from the previous point. Defensive driving is a term used to cover a broad range of different driving techniques, all focused on behaving defensively and protecting yourself and your vehicle from other road users. A common defensive driving technique, for instance, might be keeping your distance from the vehicle ahead or taking action to avoid blind spots when driving near a truck.
Watch the Weather
Always make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out on your motorcycle too, as bike riders can often be at increased risks when the rain starts to fall or temperatures begin to drop. Trying to navigate wet or icy roads on a motorcycle can be quite dangerous, and even in summer, when the temperatures get very high and the sun starts to shine, you may have to deal with increased body heat and glare in your visor, so make sure you’re ready for anything.
Another top tip to make sure you stay safe while riding your motorcycle is to ensure that your vehicle is in good condition at all times. This means taking the time to inspect your bike before big rides, checking things like tire pressure and air filter quality, as well as carrying out routine bike maintenance tasks on a regular basis too.
A big part of driving safely is making sure you don’t let yourself lose focus or get tired, as stated above, and one simple, sensible way to do this is to make sure you take breaks as and when you need them. This is especially true when you’re planning a road trip or long-distance ride; you should make sure to take breaks now and then to step off the bike, stretch your legs, and keep yourself hydrated and energized with food and drink.
Trust Your Instincts
Another useful tip for motorcycle enthusiasts is to trust your instincts and follow them. Often, when it comes to dangerous on-road situations, you’ll only have seconds to react to dangers ahead, and your instincts will usually guide you in the right direction. If you feel that overtaking a truck ahead might be too dangerous, wait for a while. If you have suspicions about another road user, keep your distance from them.
Motorcycles can be so exciting to ride, but the dangers of choosing a bike are very real and need to be understood and accepted by every rider. Keep these tips in mind to avoid those dangers and protect yourself every time.