Though motorcycles have been nicknamed “death cycles,” motorcycles can be safer than many people think. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents and fatalities have increased in recent years (due partly to an increase in motorcycle ownership), inflaming the already negative associations with motorcycle ownership. However, if motorcycle safety is followed, the likelihood of accidents and/or fatalities is greatly decreased. The keys to motorcycle safety is acting safely, riding safely, riding defensively, and wearing protective gear.
Motorcycle safety begins with enrolling in a motorcycle course or series of courses. Instructors can offer beginners and advanced riders alike some defensive driving techniques, practice, and safety ideas. The defensive techniques, centered on the most recent ideas in motorcycle safety, can help riders watch out for themselves when drivers are not watching out for them. The practice can help beginners develop a comfort with motorcycles, a feel for motorcycle response, and the basic driving techniques needed to help keep them safe, and advanced riders will practice new ideas and techniques offered in class. Finally, learning new motorcycle safety ideas can encourage riders to consider new materials, new helmets, and safe practices that will help ensure continued safety.
Putting class techniques to use in riding can help both new and experienced riders maintain motorcycle safety. The most important tip in riding safety is to ride defensively, as we will discuss in the next section. However, other safe riding ideas exist which warrant mention, as follows:
- Never drive under the influence of any alcohol. Driving a motorcycle is much more difficult than driving a car because balance, defensive driving, skill, and coordination are all required. Even a little alcohol can impair a motorcycle rider’s abilities, and any time a motorcyclist is off her/his best skillful driving, the accident potential is increased. In fact, half of motorcycle accidents involve alcohol.
- Select the best motorcycle fit for you. A motorcyclist should be able to touch both feet to the ground while astride, should be able to reach all controls easily, and should be fit for your intended use, like a trail bike for trail riding.
- Drive the speed limit at all times, and be especially cautious of slippery roads.
The most important part of motorcycle safety is riding defensively. Bikes are more difficult for drivers to see, and intersections are the most likely location of motorcycle accidents. Automobile drivers can easily overlook a motorcyclist at an intersection, so be especially cautious at intersections. Make sure the driver sees you and acknowledges your location before you enter the intersection. In fact, in every situation, it is safer to assume the driver does not see you and to drive defensively.
Wear Protective Gear
Always wear a helmet, glasses/goggles, leather boots and long pants/jeans when riding. It is further suggested that a rider wear chaps, leather gloves, and a leather jacket to protect their skin should an accident occur. Passengers should also be outfitted similarly. No one should ever wear shorts or sandals when riding (don’t laugh — I’ve seen it!).
Motorcycle riding can be a very pleasurable activity but is subject to many dangers. Though you can never guarantee safety in motorcycle riding, acting safely, riding safely and defensively, and wearing protective gear can decrease your likelihood of an accident.