Statistics show that more and more people are choosing to buy and ride motorcycles in the US today, and it’s not hard to understand why. Motorcycles are often regarded as more fun and thrilling to drive than cars or vans, and they’re often more practical and affordable for solo riders or couples without kids too.
Motorcycles are smaller and more maneuverable, allowing them to weave in and out of traffic and navigate obstacles more efficiently in many situations, and they also tend to be a lot cheaper to buy, own, insure, and maintain. However, it’s not all advantages; motorcycles do come with quite a few risks and downsides too.
Of course, the biggest of those downsides is the safety factor: It’s a simple fact that motorcycles simply aren’t as safe as cars. The data shows that motorcyclists can be up to 27 times more likely to be in fatal accidents than car drivers, and motorcycles aren’t equipped with the same levels of protection as cars and other vehicles.
Because of all of this, it’s important for every motorcycle owner and enthusiast to do whatever they can to keep themselves safe while on the roads. With this in mind, here are some useful safety tips for you to bear in mind every time you saddle up and head out on a motorcycle, designed to minimize your risks of getting in an accident.
Wear a Helmet and Safety Gear
When it comes to riding a motorcycle and staying safe in the process, the most important and most frequently cited tip of all is to make sure you always wear a helmet. Helmets save lives. This is a proven fact, with studies showing that helmets can massively reduce your risks of brain and head injuries if accidents happen. Not wearing one isn’t just dangerous, it’s also illegal in many cases and can impact any insurance claims you make later on as well.
As well as making sure you have a high-quality helmet that fits well, there are various other items of safety equipment you can utilize while riding your motorcycle. Gloves can help to keep your hands safe, and tough attire will help to reduce the risk of crashes and burns if you get into a collision and slide along the surface of the road. There are even crash bars that can be fitted to your motorcycle to reduce the risk of injuries too.
Drive Safely and Always Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Another top tip for staying safe while riding a motorcycle is to be a safe and sensible rider at all times. This means always remembering to keep your distance from other vehicles, adjusting your speeds to suit the weather and road conditions, not letting yourself lose focus or continuing to ride if you start feeling tired, and so on.
Ultimately, it’s all about keeping your eyes on the road and your attention focused on your surrounding environment. Pay close attention to other road users and track their movements to prepare for any potential hazards, and keep an eye on the road ahead to look out for any other dangers, signs, or problems you need to prepare for.
Remain Calm and Cautious
Another way you can help to protect yourself and any passengers that might be riding along with you on your motorcycle is to remain calm at all times. This isn’t always easy, especially for seasoned motorcyclists who have firsthand experience of other road users ignoring or overlooking them, getting too close, or failing to use signals and mirrors when changing lanes right in front of them.
Other road users might behave badly, and motorcyclists can fall victim to this more often than most, but giving in to road rage and letting yourself lose focus isn’t the answer. Road rage simply makes accidents more likely to happen. Instead of getting mad, stay calm and ride cautiously, avoiding blind spots of other vehicles and paying attention to their movements. You might even consider taking a defensive driving class to learn some new skills.
Keep an Eye on the Weather and React Appropriately
It’s also wise to check up on the weather forecast before you head out on your motorcycle, especially if you’re planning a big journey, as motorcyclists can often be more prone to the risks of bad weather like storms, snow, heavy rain, fog, and icy roads too, and it may sometimes be in your best interests to postpone your journey if possible when the weather gets too bad.
Of course, it’s not always possible to simply delay or reschedule a ride, and there will be times when you simply have to go out, even if the roads are wet and slippery or visibility levels are low. Try to compensate for these issues however you can, by slowing down when the rains are heavy and potentially wearing high visibility equipment to let other road users see you in dark or dimly-lit conditions.
Look After Your Bike and Yourself
Another top tip to make sure you stay safe while riding your motorcycle is to always make sure that your vehicle is in good working order at all times. Motorcycles often don’t need quite as much costly maintenance as cars, but they still need to be checked on a regular basis, with things like fluid levels, air filters, and tire pressure checked often.
Routine bike maintenance tasks are important, and it’s also important to look after yourself, as the rider, as well. This means paying close attention to any medications you take before riding, as they can sometimes list drowsiness as a side effect, and ensuring that you’re fully hydrated, energized, and awake at all times. A tired, hungry, or restless rider may be more likely to cause accidents.
Motorcycles can be a thrill to ride, and it’s no surprise that so many people choose them over other vehicles, but every rider, young and old, needs to accept the risks they face and do everything they can to reduce them. Follow these tips and ride safely in the future.