Statistics show that the number of motorcycle owners is on the rise in the US, and it’s not hard to see why. Motorcycles offer something totally different to cars and other vehicles. They’re thrilling, freeing, and exciting, providing a unique riding experience that simply can’t be compared with sitting behind the wheel of a car or truck.
Still, in spite of their unique advantages and thrilling sensations, motorcycles can be quite dangerous. Statistics show that around 5,000 motorcyclists die in accidents every single year in the US, while countless others suffer life-altering injuries, both physical and mental, in accidents and crashes that might have been avoidable.
There are times when accidents seem almost impossible to avoid, and you can’t control the actions of reckless or negligent drivers on the road around you, but you can take action and make efforts to protect yourself and set a good example for other riders and road users. So here are some useful safety tips that every motorcycle enthusiast should keep in mind.
Always Wear a Helmet
Of course, when it comes to riding a motorcycle, the number one safety tip on every list is always the same: wear a helmet. There simply is no logical reason not to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, and there are reams of evidence to prove just how effective helmets can be. As stated by Gomez Law Firm, a helmet makes you 27x less likely to die in an accident and far less likely to suffer a serious traumatic brain injury too.
These days, there are helmets of all different designs, styles, and sizes to suit every kind of rider. You can even find advanced, cutting edge helmets with rearview cameras and special sensors to help you watch out for other vehicles around you and stay safer on the roads, so shop around and compare your options to find the perfect helmet for you.
Avoid Road Rage
Statistics regarding road rage make for worrying reading; the NHTSA reports that 66% of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving, and people are far more likely to cause and be injured in accidents when they lose their heads and let their anger take control of them. This is especially relevant to bike riders, as it’s easy to get mad when other road users fail to keep their distance or change lanes right in front of you.
However, letting your emotions get the best of you isn’t the answer. When we give in to road rage, our driving or riding ability becomes impaired; we begin to make poor decisions and choices, as well as losing focus on our surroundings, failing to notice upcoming hazards, and being more likely to break speed limits or other road rules. It may be a challenge, but try to keep calm, even if other road users exhibit bad behavior.
Stay Out of Blind Spots
Motorcyclists are at something of a disadvantage on the road when compared to other vehicles. Drivers of bigger vehicles like cars, trucks, and vans are less likely to be injured in a collision with a bike, as they have far more protection around them. Bikes, as much smaller vehicles, can be easily knocked off balance and can be much harder to spot for other road users too.
This is where blind spots come into play. Most vehicles have blind spots – areas that are simply not possible to be seen by the driver, even with the aid of their mirrors. The blind spots can be quite large on larger vehicles, like trucks, and it’s easy for bikes to go unnoticed, so bike riders should be aware of roughly where these blind spots are for other vehicles and try to stay out of them as much as possible.
Following on from the point above, let’s talk about defensive driving. This is a term used to describe many different driving techniques that are designed to protect you and your passengers and reduce the risk of collisions and accidents occurring. Defensive driving might include staying out of blind spots, as mentioned earlier, or keeping your distance from other vehicles.
There are many defensive driving techniques you probably already know and use, but there might be others you aren’t aware of. You can take courses and even online classes to learn defensive driving skills that could save your life, and it’s always worth brushing up on your skills and learning a few extra tricks to negotiate tricky situations on the road.
Be Aware and Observant
As repeated throughout this article, bike riders need to accept that they’re more at risk than other road users, and this should be seen as a reason to be even more vigilant, alert, and aware than anyone else. Every time you take a seat on your bike and hit the road, your life is in your hands, and it’s up to you to drive safely and sensibly, making the right calls to keep yourself safe.
Since other road users can sometimes fail to notice motorcycles or fail to keep their distance, you need to be extra alert, keeping an eye on the cars and trucks around you, taking action as needed to stay away from any dangerous drivers, and paying attention to the road ahead for any upcoming hazards that might cause trucks or cars to suddenly turn into your lane or brake sharply.
Many motorcycle owners feel that the thrilling experiences of riding their bikes far outweigh the risks they face, but it’s still important to acknowledge that those risks exist. If you end up in an accident while riding your motorcycle, you can easily be flung off onto the road, suffering broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and life-ending physical damages.
Be aware of those risks and follow the tips above to avoid them. Stay alert and aware at all times, with your hands always on the handlebars, your eyes always on the road and your concentration levels high in order to avoid any nasty accidents.