Motorcycle safety is of top priority – after all, riding a motorcycle is much different compared to driving a car. Not only that, but you’re at greater risk of being involved in an accident and are more susceptible to injuries, both minor and serious. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, in 2018, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in collisions. To add to this (and to cite the Insurance Information Institute), riders are 28 times more likely to die in an accident per vehicle mile traveled compared to a car passenger or driver.
So, if you’re a new rider (or just need a quick refresher), you should prepare for the road with the following safety tips.
Always wear a helmet with a protective face shield
There are many horror stories of riders being struck and killed, all because they didn’t wear a helmet. A rider wearing a helmet is five times likelier to resist a serious head injury.
Always wear a helmet that complies with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. You’ll be able to tell if the helmet is compliant by checking for the DOT symbol.
Wear the proper equipment when you ride
To decrease the risk of serious injury in the event you are in a motorcycle accident, you’ll want to wear the following:
- Boots with nonskid soles
- Tough, leather gloves
- Reflective tape attached to clothing
- Safe and brightly colored motorcycle jacket and pants
- Body armor
- Elbow, shin, and knee pads
- Additional layers
An important note: jeans won’t protect you from any nasty falls – instead, the material will shred, should you slide against asphalt, resulting in some serious and painful road rash.
Don’t drink and ride
Just like you wouldn’t drink and drive in any other vehicle, you shouldn’t drink (or use any other drugs) and ride a motorcycle, as you would greatly increase the risk of injuring not only yourself but also other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Obey all traffic rules
Follow the speed limits, utilize your turn signals, and follow the general laws of the road just like you would if you were driving a car. Furthermore, check all local laws for any special rules pertaining to motorcycles, because motorcycle laws can vary depending on the area you’re in. For instance, California is the only state to allow lane splitting.
Ride defensively, not offensively
It’s always a good idea to imagine that everyone is about to collide with you – after all, it’s rare that someone looks out for a motorcycle, especially when they’re distracted drivers (they could be texting and driving, for instance).
Do not let your attention span falter for even a moment. What can damage a car can destroy a bike and potentially kill you, so pay close attention to all signs, other drivers, intersections, and any other potential dangers.
Maintain your bike when required
Follow your motorcycle’s maintenance schedule to avoid any mechanical issues.
Generally, after the first 1,000 miles, or one month, the bike should be checked, and engine oil changed.
At 5,000 miles or six months, several parts of the bike should be lubricated.
Other parts need to be replaced, lubricated or checked at 10,000 (12 months), 15,000 (18 months), and 20,000 miles (24 months).
Always adjust your mirrors
Before you start riding, be sure your mirrors are adjusted well enough.
Unfortunately, not all bike mirrors are adjustable. There are some motorcycles out there with mirrors that require a wrench to adjust, so you’ll need to check the mirrors from where you’re sitting before you start riding.
Thoroughly inspect your bike before you ride
Check the chain or belt of your bike before you leave your home. If the belt or chain is bad or improperly adjusted, it could snap as you ride, which can lead to an accident.
A chain in good condition can move freely (not too tight but not too loose), doesn’t have any missing links, and is, at maximum, only a little dirty.
A belt, on the other hand, should move smoothly and should be free of any cracks and tears.
Finally, check for any fluid leaks and check your tires for air pressure, leaks, and damage from nails, glass, and other foreign objects.
Always stay safe when you ride
Be sure to follow the aforementioned tips – including wearing the proper gear, abide by your local motorcycle laws, maintain constant attention of your surroundings, and thoroughly inspecting your bike for any potential issues that need to be addressed – if you want to stay safe on the roads. Riding a motorcycle is fun but can be deadly if you’re not careful.