Two Wheels. Four Wheels. Eighteen Wheels. How you choose to travel comes with options; however, regardless of the number of wheels under you, the rules of the road apply the same to everyone.
The thrill? Fuel efficiency? Escape? Whatever your reason for riding a bike—one thing is certain, there’s room for everyone on the road!
Riding a motorcycle is not the same as driving a car. Just because you can drive a car doesn’t mean you automatically know how to ride a motorcycle. Capiche? Operating a motorcycle takes skill and lots of practice. Yes. PRACTICE. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation strongly urges anyone wanting to ride a motorcycle to take a basic rider course, and follow up with additional courses and training. They provide a list of over 2,700 locations around the country that can help find a location closest to you. Everyone can benefit from a good coach and mentor when honing their street smarts!
The Bottom line—get professional training on how to drive a motorcycle. It could save your life!
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Motorcycles make up only 3% of vehicles on the road today, but account for 15% of the accidents. And 57% of motorcycle fatalities involve one or more other vehicles. Those stats are HUGE for a minority of travelers! So the American Motorcyclist Association is asking for all drivers to be more aware of their driving environment, check their mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes, and to watch out for motorcyclists. A few simple motorcycle awareness actions could prevent a nasty bang-up or some serious road rash!
Unlike newer vehicles that can compensate for driver error or absorb abrupt changes in road conditions, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to the elements and the unpredictable nature of traffic conditions around them. Statistics show that making even simple mistakes on a motorcycle can be fatal. Operating a motorcycle requires complete attention and control. Attempting to ride a bike that is beyond the rider’s experience and skill-set is also dangerous. While it may seem exciting, riding on the road with other vehicles around you is not the time to overestimate your ability. Always use good judgment, caution, and start with a bike that is realistic to your level of experience.
Motorcycle Riding Experience
Safety is a two-way street. Staying out of other vehicle’s blind spots ensures that motorists can see you. Keep your eyes moving and always look for indication that drivers may not see you. Driving a motorcycle is definitely a defensive sport. You must constantly anticipate what’s going on in the other driver’s head and lane of travel. Make sure that your headlight in on both day and night to make yourself as visible as possible. For a list of quick tips on motorcycle safety, read here.
Following the rules of the road may not be enough for some motorcyclists. Age plays a huge factor in the make-up of a motorcycle accident statistics. Declining vision, perception, and reaction time makes older riders more susceptible to operational error and potential harm. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been riding, don’t forget to give yourself plenty of space around other vehicles to allow for a safe reaction time. Flashing brake lights to indicate intent and using a horn can also bring more attention to you.
On August 8, 2017, a Richland man died in a motorcycle accident, when he failed to execute a curve properly, causing him to lose control of his motorcycle. At just 65 years of age, he was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the crash is still unknown, pending lab reports, and further investigation by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. This tragic motorcycle accident is indicative of the increase in the average age of motorcycle buyers and riders in the US over the past decade, and can be cited as an example of the 145% increase in motorcycle accidents among those in the age group of 65 and older. Read this article on Aging Easy Riders Beware for more information.
Depending on which study you read, the chances of being harmed or killed in a motorcycle accident is 25-30% higher than any other vehicle driven. Taking a few moments to go over cautionary measures and defensive driving techniques is a win-win for every rider on the road. Read these tips for guidance on sharing the road.
Road Conditions for Motorcyclists
Road conditions that might be a minor annoyance to a person driving a car can be catastrophic to a motorcyclist. Things like: road debris, potholes, gravel, slippery surfaces, pavement seams, grooves in the pavement, and railroad crossings.
The grade and condition of pavement varies from road to road. Milling surfaces and grade do not necessarily effect the vehicle-handling performance of a motor vehicle. However, these topical irregularities in the surface can cause several roadway hazards for motorcyclists, particularly, if there is uneven edges and gravel present. Resurfacing projects will often use steel plates to cover open excavations and uneven surfaces, causing motorcycles to lose traction momentarily. Use caution when traveling through road construction and congestion.
Pay Attention to Signs
States have tried to ensure a safer ride for all vehicles, but particularly motorcycles, by adding additional signage for potential hazards and upcoming changes in the road condition. Sharp curves and high wind areas are known danger areas for all motorcyclists.
It’s always smart to leave the bike in the garage when the weather is lousy! Safe and responsible riders know when it’s just not worth the risk.
Make Safety a Priority
Wear a Helmet
The best helmet is one that covers the entire face, fits properly, and is built to absorb strong pressure and protect the head on impact. Follow these six tips when selecting the right helmet.
Helmet laws vary from state to state, from universal coverage to some with specific age requirements. Only three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) have no laws in place regarding helmets for motorcyclists. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides a current list of every state’s helmet law.
Remember: Protective gear is the only thing that separates a motorcyclist from the road in the event of an accident.
Studies are showing that the most common type of motorcycle accident is when a car turning left fails to see an on-coming motorcycle or is unable to calculate the distance of the motorcycle before turning. There are lots of explanations as to why this can happen; “blame inattention, distraction, blind spots and even psychology; a driver looking for cars perceives merely an absence of cars, not the presence of a motorcycle.” Bottom line, don’t assume that everybody sees you. In fact, assume nobody sees you for proper defensive driving.
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