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Motorcycle Safety Essentials

05-16-2017

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.

Categories: Health