Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating and fun—but it can also be dangerous. Motorcyclists are far more likely to be seriously injured or killed on the road: motorcycles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles, yet motorcyclists account for 13 percent of all fatalities.
Why are motorcycles more dangerous than other vehicles?
First, the design of the motorcycle itself contributes to the danger: there is no metal and plastic shell protecting the driver and rider. A motorcycle is also smaller than other forms of transportation, which means that it is less likely to be seen by others on the road.
Second, the relative rarity of motorcycles accounts for additional danger. Most motor vehicle drivers are used to sharing the road with cars, SUVs, trucks, and semis; they’re not used to motorcycles (or bicycles), which means they aren’t looking out for them.
That said, this doesn’t mean you have to put your bike in storage. It simply means that it’s important to exercise caution when riding to ensure a safe, fun experience.
Let’s talk about the most important steps you can take to protect yourself on your bike.
Before You Ride
Before you even get on your bike, here are a few important steps to take.
Pass the BMV motorcycle (or motor scooter) knowledge and/or skills tests. Ohio law requires anyone who wants to ride a motorcycle or motor scooter on public roads to have a motorcycle license or motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. Make sure that you have a valid license.
Practice on a new bike. If you are inexperienced, it’s been a while since you’ve ridden, or you just purchased a different motorcycle, it’s a good idea to practice before hitting the open road. Motorcycles can vary wildly in terms of handling and responsiveness, so be sure to get to know your bike in a controlled area first. Also make sure that you know how to handle your bike in bad weather and on poorly maintained roads. (Cincinnati has a lot of potholes!)
Double-check your motorcycle’s condition. Before you ride, make sure to check your bike’s tire pressure, tire tread, brakes, headlights, signals, and fluid levels. If you’re carrying cargo or another rider, you might also need to adjust the tire pressure and the suspension.
On the Road
You can’t control other drivers or road conditions, but you can reduce your risk of a crash and help prevent injury should the worst occur. Here are a few steps we recommend taking.
Put on the proper gear. Wearing the right gear can help protect you from serious injury (or even death) in the event of a crash. It’s important to wear a helmet: look for a full-coverage, DOT-certified helmet, which offers the most protection and has been found to meet Department of Transportation safety standards. It’s also a good idea to wear leather or denim jackets and pants to protect your arms and legs. Gloves will also protect your hands and give you better grip. Finally, consider wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing: this will help other drivers see you.
Drive defensively. Other motorists aren’t great at watching for motorcycles. That’s why it’s important not just to follow the rules of the road (obeying the speed limit, traffic signals, and lane markings) but also to drive defensively. Assume that other motorists cannot see you, and position yourself to be seen by leaving a lot of room between you and other vehicles. Avoid weaving in and out of lanes or riding between lanes—especially between traffic and parked car lanes. Finally, keep your headlights on, even during the day.
Watch for hazards. Be on the lookout for road hazards like potholes, oil slicks, wet roads, railroad tracks, and gravel so that you have time to respond appropriately.
Know your limits. Riding a motorcycle requires significant balance and coordination. Avoid driving while tired, and—of course—never drink and drive. Driving while impaired will negatively impact your reaction and response time, increasing your risk of a crash and injury.
After an Accident
Sometimes, you can do everything right and still experience a motorcycle accident caused by a poorly maintained road or a distracted driver.
If you are in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to seek medical attention right away to determine if you have injuries. In addition, if you have been injured by another driver, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury attorney to talk about your options. A personal injury claim can help you cover your medical bills and lost wages caused by the accident.
If you have questions about a potential claim, call us today at one of our convenient locations. We are here to help you explore your options and determine the best course of action in your case.