Everyone who has ridden a motorcycle knows that these are exciting machines that don’t consume much fuel. However, they must be also aware that it is riskier than cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveals the shocking reality that motorcyclists are 30 times more vulnerable to lose lives in an accident than car drivers. And almost all motorcycle fatalities are caused by single vehicle accidents.
The statistics of elderly riders are much more frightening, who are making a come-back to motorcycles after several years or newly venturing into motorcycle riding. Due to sluggish reflexes, poorer vision, more fragile bones, and other weaknesses, riders who have crossed 60 years have more chances to get admitted to a hospital than their younger counterparts.
Nonetheless, several aficionados relish injury-free rides for a lifetime. You can reduce the odds of mishaps by evading risks and staying prepared. According to IIHS, 48 percent of motorcycle accident deaths were attributed to speeding, and 42 percent due to alcohol. Get rid of such elements and you have significantly lessened your danger.
Here are a few more tips to remain safe while you ride!
- 1 Tip #1: Never buy a bike that you cannot handle well
- 2 Tip #2: Get antilock brakes installed
- 3 Tip #3: Refine your skills
- 4 Tip #4: Be smart
- 5 Tip#5: Put on an appropriate gear
- 6 Tip #6: Stay defensive
- 7 Tip #7: Keep away from bad weather
- 8 Tip#8: Watch out for hazards on the road
- 9 Tip #9: Be prepared to ride
Tip #1: Never buy a bike that you cannot handle well
If you weren’t riding motorcycles for some time, you will be amazed by the performance of modern bikes. Even bikes fitted with engines having small displacements are quicker and more potent than the bikes of the 80s or 90s. If you are planning to get a bike, only go for a properly fitting one. While seated,
- you should be able to effortlessly place both your feet horizontal on the ground without having to be on your toes;
- you should be able to easily reach the handlebars and controls.
Select a model that is effortless for you to put it on and off its center stand; if it feels hefty, it almost certainly is. If you want a commuter bike, choose a smaller model that features an engine with just 250- to 300cc capacity. For a lot of highway rides, you must buy one with 500- to 750cc engine displacement to effortlessly keep up with other motorists on the highway.
Tip #2: Get antilock brakes installed
Now offered on a wide range of high-end models, antilock brakes are an established lifesaver. According to an IIHS study, motorcycles installed with ABS were 37 percent less prone to life-threatening accidents than ones without it. Bruce Biondi from the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles’ Motorcycle Safety program says that ABS can brake more efficiently than you, irrespective of what type of rider you are.
The reason is straightforward:
- The locking of brakes in an emergency stop can prevent the rider to maintain steering control, which can easily result in skid and accident that can cause severe injury.
- ABS allows you maintain the steering control in the event of a panic stop, and it is particularly advantageous on slippery surfaces.
Nowadays ABS is a standard feature on many expensive bikes and costs only a couple of hundred dollars to the cost of a regular motorcycle. You may be able to compensate some of the expenditure with an insurance rebate. In any case, antilock brakes are an invaluable investment to make your rides safer.
Tip #3: Refine your skills
As Jon Siedel of Honda says “There is nothing we could say or advise more than to go find a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course in your area. That’s critical, absolutely critical.” An MSF riding course or a related class can train you on the basics, and also advanced methods namely how to carry out elusive maneuvers during an emergency. The price of these courses varies between free to around $350. After passing out an authorized safety course, you can be qualified for insurance rebates, and in certain states, to omit written and/or road tests that are mandatory to get a driving license. Certain motorcycle makers provide a credit toward the motorcycle or training cost if the rider enrolls for an MSF course. There is a list of around 2700 course locations across the US on the MSF website.
A Consumer Reports medical adviser named Orly Avitzur, M.D. says that “It is absolute insanity to repeal helmet laws.”
Tip #4: Be smart
Yes, helmets can be a sensitive subject for certain motorcyclists. But the facts reveal the dangers. Government studies reveal that the chances of suffering a deadly head injury are 40 times more for motorcyclists riding without a helmet and their odds of suffering brain damages is three times higher than those riders wearing helmets.
When the helmet laws were repealed by Arkansas and Texas, the motorcycle fatalities in those states rose to 21- and 31-percent, respectively. Helmets can indeed save lives. It is sheer stupidity to keep our skull and brain exposed to potential damage that can be averted or at least, lessened.
A DOT (Department of Transportation) approved helmet is a perfect choice, and such helmets will have a DOT certified sticker on them. The present day helmets are lightweight, strong, and comfortable, and they decrease the wind noise and exhaustion. Bear in mind that helmets worsen with time, and may not protect you well even though they appear OK.
According to SNELL, it is highly recommended to replace the helmet every five years or earlier if it is worn out or suffered an impact. Apart from probable wear and tear due to aging and being subjected to chemicals and hair oils, SNELL reveals that there is often significant enhancement in helmet technology and materials during that period.
Tip#5: Put on an appropriate gear
Sandals, T-shirts, and Jeans are invitations for a distressing accident on a motorcycle. In its place, always wear a gear that will safeguard you from cold winds, flying debris and bugs, and also road rashes in case you ever slide out. For improved protection, put on a leather or other toughened jacket, full pants, gloves, and over-the-ankle footwear, even during summer time.
Specially-made jackets with strong padding and ventilated mesh material offer safety as well as ventilation during warm summer rides. You will also require protection to your eyes: never depend on eyeglasses or windscreen of the bike. Wear goggles or use the visor of the helmet. And bear in mind that car drivers who have knocked motorcyclists often claim that they didn’t notice the biker, so wear brightly colored gear to stay easily visible to other motorists.
Tip #6: Stay defensive
A study recently conducted by Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida has disclosed that in accidents that involved cars and bikes, the car drivers were guilty in 60 percent of the cases. So, you must be extra cautious, particularly in this time of widespread use of phones and behind-the-wheel texting.
Watch out for cars abruptly shifting lanes or joining the main traffic on the roads. And never drive too closely behind another vehicle. It is critical to maintain the safe distance to both make sure you have sufficient distance to stop and enough time to react to impediments on the road. An obstacle that the car may easily cross can be a dangerous hazard for a motorcyclist.
Tip #7: Keep away from bad weather
Slippery surfaces diminish your room for error. Rain not just decreases your visibility but lessens the grip of the tire on the road, which can make turning complicated. If you have to ride during the rain, keep in mind that the most unsafe time is immediately after the precipitation starts, as the water can bring the oil residue up to the road’s surface.
And never make abrupt movements. Be particularly mild with the brakes, steering, and throttle to prevent skidding. When there are potent side-winds while riding, be preemptive in foreseeing the potential thrust from the side by shifting to the side of the road where the gust is coming from. This will provide you some margin in the lane, should a wind push you.
Tip#8: Watch out for hazards on the road
The contact that a motorcycle has with the road is much lesser than what a car has. Wet leaves, sand, or pebbles can cause unexpected skids on a bike, easily leading to a fall.
Potholes and bumps that you may never see in a car can present dangerous risks while riding a motorcycle. If you are unable to evade them, decelerate as much as you can prior to bumping into them, with minimum input to steering. While moving closer to railroad tracks and other threats, try to be as precise as the right angle, to decrease the possibilities of a slide.
Tip #9: Be prepared to ride
Prior to every ride, take a walk around the bike quickly to ensure that your horn, lights, and directional lights are functioning properly. Chain, shaft, or belt and the brakes must also be checked. And inspect the tires for any abrasion, and ensure they have the right air pressure. Tires with wrong pressure and deteriorated brakes can significantly put your life at risk. Under-inflated tires can cause serious handling and steering problems to the bike.