Riding a motorcycle is inherently riskier than driving a car, as you don’t have the same built-in protections like airbags and seat belts. You also don’t have a metal cage to protect you. However, taking the proper precautions can make you a safer rider and minimize your risks.
We asked a Manhattan motorcycle accident lawyer to give us some tips on staying safe while on your motorcycle, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider.
Wear Protective Gear
One of the most important things you can do is wear protective gear, starting with your helmet. A good-fitting helmet can prevent concussions and save your life. Make sure your helmet is DOT-certified, at the minimum, although ECE certification is better.
Avoid wearing open-face helmets, as they expose your chin and face to injury. Full-face helmets offer more protection; pull down the visor when riding at high speeds to protect your eyes from flying stones and objects.
However, a helmet isn’t enough. You should also wear a motorcycle jacket with built-in armor for the elbows, shoulders, chest, and back. That will protect your spine and joints if you fall. A good motorcycle jacket will also protect you from road rash.
Similarly, get a good pair of shin guards and motorcycle jeans with reinforced fabric that will stay intact if you slide down the pavement after a fall. Some motorcycle jeans have built-in protection for the knees. You should also wear boots to protect your feet and ankles.
Take Some Advanced Classes
You might have taken an introductory motorcycle class when getting your license, but it’s worth taking an advanced class to hone your skills. For example, Harley-Davidson offers a Skilled Rider Course that teaches you how to control a heavy cruiser at low speeds, manage risks, and swerve quickly.
If you can’t find a class near you, you can also take your bike to an empty parking lot and practice basic skills, such as quick swerving and slow turns. Buy some cones and set them up, so you can practice figure eights. Getting better at controlling your bike at both high and low speeds is essential. Practice using the clutch and rear and front brakes.
Ride With Risk Management in Mind
When you ride, pretend that every other motorist is out to kill you. When learning to drive a car, most people learn to watch out for other cars and trucks. Most motorists do not look out for motorcycles or know how to accurately gauge their distance from a bike.
They also don’t care as much – you don’t pose a considerable risk to them if they bump into you by accident. If you drive with a risk-prevention mindset, you will be a safer rider.
Watch Out for Objects and Other Motorists
Always be aware of your surroundings. Use your mirrors and glance backward quickly when turning or merging lanes. Direct your eyes where you want to go, but keep the pavement in front of you in your peripheral vision to watch out for objects.
Be Careful at Intersections and Blind Turns
A large percentage of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections and blind turns. Intersections are particularly tricky because there are many things to keep track of simultaneously. Other motorists might also not honor your right of way or may run red lights – never rely on others to follow the law.
Blind turns are also dangerous, as you can’t see what’s coming toward you. A truck might be going down the wrong lane, for example. That’s why it’s important to learn advanced skills such as uprighting your motorcycle and swerving to avoid oncoming traffic while leaning into a sharp turn.
Stay within your skill limit, especially if you are a new rider. Avoid speeding and never drive while under the influence of alcohol. At night, keep your lights on and drive extra carefully, as it’s harder to see at night and harder for others to see you.