The following tips can help prevent a motorcycle accident.
- Complete a motorcycle rider-training course. A safety course can benefit all motorcyclists, even skilled riders. Rider training classes go over traffic safety laws, how to respond to emergency situations that can result in a motorcycle accident, motorcycle maintenance, and allow riders to try out new skills in a controlled environment. In most states, riders who want to get a motorcycle license need to take a skills test. In New York, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will waive the motorcycle road test if a rider is qualified and completes an approved rider course.
- Drive defensively. Riding a motorcycle defensively is different than defensive driving a car. A motorcyclist needs to be more vigilant and evaluate the movement of every nearby vehicle in order to put the bike in the safest possible area in relationship to the traffic. The sooner a threat is spotted, the sooner a rider can prepare and react to it. Riders need to be especially alert for other vehicles because approximately 55 percent of fatal motorcycle collisions were multi-vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Among other things, riders need to be cautious at intersections and check the rearview mirrors before changing lanes or stopping. Riders need to hit the road with confidence and assertiveness, but not ride aggressively or timidly.
- Leave enough space. Motorcyclists should not tailgate. There needs to be safe following to ensure there is enough stopping distance for their bikes. One way to find out how much space is needed to stop is to practice braking in a safe environment. Then, riders should make sure they give themselves that much space in traffic. Whenever possible, motorcycles should accelerate to large open spots on the road that have the fewest number of vehicles, or brake to let traffic pass and use an open area behind traffic.
- Avoid distraction. Riders should remove all temptations for distractions. One of the keys to staying safe on a motorcycle is to stay hyper-alert to everything going on. Riders who are distracted by a phone or other device cut their reaction time, and put themselves at a higher risk of a collision. In addition to the risk of distraction, taking hands off a motorcycle lessens the control more than if a car driver takes his or her hands off the wheel.
- Watch the weather. Motorcyclists need to check the weather before heading out on the road. Riding a bike in inclement weather is much riskier than driving through bad weather in a car. Motorcycles have much less traction than a car, no windshield wipers and no protection from the elements. Riding in heavy rain, snow or ice is not recommended. If riding in the rain is unavoidable, riders should not head out right after the storm starts. When rain first starts, it causes oil and other residue to rise to the top, making the road much more slippery. When riding in strong side winds, motorcyclists need to anticipate the potential push. Then, they should go slow and be extra cautious. If the weather gets worse, it’s advised that riders stop and wait it out
- Wear the proper gear. According to the NHTSA, riders wearing a helmet have up to a 73 percent lower fatality rate than riders without a helmet. They also have up to an 85 percent reduced incidence of severe, serious, and critical injuries. In addition to a helmet, riders should wear face shields, protective boots with a stiff rubber sole, full-fingered motorcycle gloves, and comfortable and protective apparel, including pants and a jacket or a protective full bodysuit. The right colors on the helmet and clothing help make the rider more visible to car drivers, potentially avoiding some common accidents
- Buy the right motorcycle. Riders need to buy a bike that is right for them and what kind of riding they want to do. The first step toward figuring out which bike is right is understanding the categories of motorcycles and their pros and cons. One factor that needs to be considered is power. A rider should only get a bike with as much power as he or she can handle safely. Also, the primary use of the bike needs to be considered. Motorcycles have special characteristics designed for their intended use. A “trail” bike is not right for highway use. Similarly, riders should not buy a “highway” bike for off-road and trail use. When shopping for a bike, a rider should also find one that fits his or her size and strength.
- Maintain the motorcycle properly. Before each ride, riders should check to make sure lights, horn, and directional signals are working properly. The engine chain, belt, or shaft, the suspension and the brakes should be checked. Also, motorcyclists should inspect the tires for wear and make sure they’re set at the proper pressure. Then make sure there is enough gas and oil to reach the destination.