Spring is just around the corner. The warmer temperatures will summon those that ride motorcycles out to the open road. Of course, the more motorcycles on the road means more motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities because riders are less protected than operators of cars and trucks. They are also smaller and can easily escape a driver’s view. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motorcyclists are approximately 28 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic accident. Both riders and drivers should take steps to ensure the safety of all who use the road.
For motorcycle riders:
- Have the proper endorsement. In 2017, 29% of riders involved in fatal crashes didn’t have valid motorcycle licenses. Having a motorcycle endorsement means passing written and on-cycle skills tests. Some states also require a rider education course. Taking a safety course may also save you money on your insurance.
- Ensure your bike is fit for the road. Make sure your motorcycle is in good working order by checking the following:
- Check your tires’ air pressure and inspect them for defects such as cracks, bulges, or wear in the tread.
- Look for signs of oil or gas leaks beneath the bike.
- Lights and signals: Test both high and low beams and ensure signals are functioning properly.
- Check hydraulic and coolant levels weekly.
- Make sure the clutch and throttle are operating smoothly.
- Clean and adjust mirrors.
- Test front and rear brakes.
- Ensure the horn works.
- Gear up. Always wear protective gear and clothing that will minimize injuries in case of an accident. A DOT approved helmet, leather clothing, boots with nonskid soles, and gloves will help protect your body from serious injuries.
- Avoid hazards. Winter weather can take a toll on roads. Watch for potholes, standing water, melting ice and other roadway dangers. Also be careful in construction zones and be aware of obstacles such as pylons, cones, and gravel.
- Be seen. Consider brightly colored clothing or using reflective tape or clothing to be more easily seen by other drivers. Also avoid driver’s blind spots, use your signals and drive with your headlights on.
- Drive safely. Obey the rules of the road and the speed limit. Also, don’t drive drowsy or drunk.
- Check your blind spot. Motorcyclists aren’t seen as easily as other vehicles. Always check your blind spots when changing lanes or merging onto the highway.
- Give them space. A motorcycle may need to maneuver around hazards and obstacles, give them room to do so. They also may need more room to brake. Leave a three or four seconds following distance when driving behind a motorcycle.
- Don’t drive distracted. It’s easy to veer into the next lane if you’re on the phone, eating or texting. Side swiping a motorcycle could be fatal to the rider. Never drive distracted.
- Be careful taking left turns. Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. Be aware of motorcycles in intersections and how fast they are going. Don’t turn in front of a motorcycle if you are unsure of the distance and speed. Assume it is closer than it looks.
- Make sure the signal is for real. Because turn signals on a motorcycle are not self-canceling, riders sometimes forget to turn them off after turning or changing lanes. Don’t presume the rider will be acting on what their signal is displaying.
It’s up to both motorcyclists and drivers to share the road safely. Respect each other’s space and follow road rules to ensure the welfare of all road users.
If you are ever in a motorcycle accident or car accident, the Sadler Injury Law Group would be happy to offer a free consultation to advise you of your legal rights. We’ve helped numerous riders and drivers find justice for injuries suffered at no fault of their own. Call us at 253-573-1700 or fill out our contact form.