For many experienced motorcycle riders and enthusiasts, safety is a priority. Most bikers know that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car. When motorcycle accidents do occur, the consequences can be very severe. According to the federal government, per mile traveled in 2006, there were 35 times more deaths from motorcycle accidents than from car accidents. Emergency room personnel often refer to motorcycles as "donor mobiles."
The best way to avoid becoming the next motorcycle statistic is to pay serious attention to safety. Many motorcycle accidents can be avoided by constant vigilance and education about the safest way to ride. Here are some of the most important safety tips to keep you riding on the road for many years to come.
Wear a helmet. Evidence overwhelmingly suggests that wearing a motorcycle helmet significantly reduces the incidence of head injuries in accidents. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for every 100 motorcyclists killed in a crash while not wearing a helmet, 37 would have survived if they had been wearing a helmet. And that doesn't even count the enormous reduction in non-fatal injuries achieved by helmets. Make sure your helmet meets Department of Transportation standards and have one available for passengers. And keep in mind that in many states its illegal to ride without a helmet. (To learn about helmet laws, see Nolos article Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Recovery for Injuries.)
Get a motorcycle license. Most states require that bikers get a special motorcycle license in order to ride on the roads. Usually, riders must pass a knowledge test and a skills test. Some states require bikers to also take a motorcycle safety course. Going through these hoops pays off when it comes to safety. In 2001, more than one quarter of all motorcyclists killed in crashes did not have a proper motorcycle license.
Get professional training. Motorcycle riders who are self-taught or taught by friends account for more than 90 percent of bikers involved in motorcycle accidents. Getting professional training in motorcycle riding could save your life.
Dont drink and ride. About half of the accidents involving a single motorcycle are caused by speeding or alcohol use --usually these go hand in hand. Not only is it against the law to drink and ride a motorcycle, its extremely dangerous.
Wear protective clothing. Protect yourself by wearing goggles or sunglasses, a jacket, full- fingered gloves, long pants, and boots. Your clothing should be made of abrasion-resistant material, such as leather, and fit close to the body. Loose clothing can impair your vision. Choose bright colors so that other motorists can see you.
Maintain your bike. Making sure your motorcycle is in excellent running condition is of the utmost importance to safety. And dont confine your maintenance to the engine and brakes. Frequently check your tires, headlamps, turn signals and other gear.
Dont share lanes. Cars dont expect to be sharing a lane with other vehicles. Drivers tend to look for cars in other lanes, and often wont notice a motorcycle sharing a lane with them. Motorists might make a quick lane change or drift to one side, with serious consequences to the motorcycle rider. (To learn more about sharing lanes, see Nolos article Motorcycle Accidents: Lane Splitting.)
Know your skill level. Know your skills, and ride accordingly. Riding on the road is not the time to test your expertise or to overestimate your ability.
Learn about the common causes of motorcycle accidents. Knowledge is your friend. Learn about the most common situations that lead to motorcycle accidents. Think of ways you could avoid those accidents, take note when those situations might occur, and when you are in those situations, take extra care. (To learn about the common causes of motorcycle accidents, see Nolos article Motorcycle Accidents: Common Causes.)
Avoid road hazards. Road hazards, including debris in the road or slick conditions, are more dangerous for motorcycles than for cars and can lead to severe injuries. Some conditions that are dangerous to bikers are not readily known. Take the time to learn about the many road dangers and learn how to handle your bike safely when presented with those hazards. (To learn about common road hazards and how to avoid them, see Nolos article Motorcycle Accidents: Road Hazards.)
If you are in a motorcycle accident and wish to recover for your injuries or other losses, consider consulting with an attorney for advice or representation. For help on choosing a good personal injury attorney, read Nolo's article Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer. You can go to Nolo's Lawyer Directory for a list of personal injury attorneys in your geographical area (click on the "Types of Cases" and "Work History" tabs to learn about a particular lawyer's experience, if any, with motorcycle accident claims).