Motorcycle Safety Essentials
The weather is perfect, the highway is calling and you’re ready for
life to throw you and your bike a few (scenic) curves. Motorcycle season
is here, and for Motorcycle Safety Month this May, CaroMont Health has
a handful of important safety tips to share—whether you’re
new to the rules of the road or a seasoned rider who could use a quick refresh.
But first, why does motorcycle safety matter? It’s a fact: motorcyclists
are nearly five times more likely to be injured and 29 times more likely
to be killed in a crash than any other vehicle. And last year in North
Carolina alone, there were 3,644 motorcycle-related crashes, resulting
in 152 fatalities and 385 serious injuries. So keeping safety top-of-mind
won’t detract from the thrill of your ride—if anything, it’ll
keep the thrills coming and you out of harm.
Read on for our top eight safety essentials.
1. Be Seen
When a driver looks in their mirror or out their window, they’re
typically watching for other cars—and often don’t notice the
smaller motorcycle.This is easily the most common cause of a collision;
ensure you’re visible to drivers by wearing bright colors, putting
reflectors on your clothing or riding gear and avoiding blind spots.
2. Pay Attention
Stay aware of your surroundings, especially cars in left-turn lanes or
on side streets—there’s a chance they could pull out in front
of you unexpectedly. Watch a car’s wheels, check for turn signals
and keep an eye out for a driver turning their head in preparation for
a lane shift.
3. Make Evasion an Instinct
Avoiding accidents often requires a quick response to get out of a car’s
way. Swerving safely takes practice and skill to stay in control. If you
need to stop suddenly, avoid being rear-ended by stopping on the center
line or to one side of the lane, not in the middle; and be aware of obstacles
on or next to the road (rocks, open car doors, etc.) so you’re more
prepared to swerve and miss them.
4. Keep Your Distance
Always keep at least a 20-foot cushion between you and fellow riders, and
try to avoid riding next to semi trucks—they can cause wind turbulence,
and other drivers have trouble seeing a motorcycle around such a large vehicle.
5. Cruise, Baby, Cruise
Ride your own ride: if you're in a group and they're riding faster
than you are comfortable with, hang back and go your own speed. It’s
much more difficult to control your motorcycle when riding fast, especially
when the road isn’t flat and straight. Stay at the speed most comfortable for you.
6. Wear Protective Gear
A rider not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical
head injury. Helmets save lives. Buy a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved
helmet, and replace it if it gets damaged. You should also buy comfortable,
durable clothing and boots to wear while riding; they offer you greater
control and help protect you in the event of an accident.
7. Take a Class
Improve your riding skills and focus by taking a motorcycle safety course.
You’ll familiarize yourself with your bike, learn how to get out
of tight spots and be better prepared to avoid accidents. The North Carolina
Motorcycle Safety Education Program
(http://ncmotorcyclesafety.org) offers many course levels, from the very basic all the way to advanced.
8. Don’t Drink and Ride
Riding a motorcycle requires focus, control and quick reaction times. Alcohol
significantly impairs your capacity for all of those things. Protect yourself
and others on the road—don’t drink and ride. You can always
celebrate after you’ve safely parked your bike for the night.