If you are new to riding or concerned about the rising number of motorcycle accidents, then knowing how to safely navigate the roads on a motorcycle can save your life. It is more than just knowing how to operate your bike, although that is important. It is about being able to anticipate what other drivers are going to do before they actually do it.
Motorcycle riders are overrepresented when it comes to road fatalities. Motorcycles make up only 2% of the vehicles on the road and yet they make up 10% of the fatalities. Each year, that number seems to go up. It makes sense because there are more vehicles on the road than ever before. So keeping yourself safe is more difficult than ever. The following tips can help save your life.
Invest in New Safety Features and Devices
Most older vehicles were not designed to be safe. That is especially true for motorcycles. Motorcycles are designed to be thrilling. However, there has been a lot of concern over the past decade and a lot of thought put into how engineers can make motorcycles safer.
Newer models have some of the same technologies you will find in cars integrated into motorcycles. In addition, there are specially designed safety add-ins that allow motorcyclists more freedom on the road.
The latest motorcycle apparel includes:
- Safer helmets are one of the major developments of the past few years. Not only are these helmets tested against a battery of stress tests, but they now come integrated with GPS and built-in cameras. Roughly half of all accidents that occur are not the fault of the motorcycle; they are the fault of the other driver. These helmets with their built-in cameras can be used as evidence if you ever need to sue the other driver for damages. They also can be used to help police figure out what happened. The newest helmets are definitely a worthwhile investment.
- Airbag vests are part of an overall movement toward making motorcycle safety gear safer. These vests work just like regular airbags but they are worn by the rider as opposed to being attached to the vehicle. These vests make riding safer and surviving serious accidents much more likely. Just like a regular airbag, they inflate on impact and protect your vital organs, ribs, and chest from major trauma.
- Bluetooth-enabled smart gloves are, in the age of the infotainment system, the motorcycle’s answer to navigation buttons on the wheel of a car. These gloves can interact with your smartphone giving you unprecedented control on the road. They are intuitive enough to not require you to look at them.
- Motorcycle boots have long been an area of concern. When it became apparent that more accidents were being attributed to the types of boots riders were wearing, the market sought ways to develop a safer boot for riders. These boots offer more protection and are more pliant leading to a safer overall riding experience.
In addition to safer wearables, motorcycles themselves are becoming safer. These include the employment of similar technologies to those you’ll find in the latest cars. This includes:
- Anti-lock brakes: The way motorcycle brakes work is different than those of cars. Traditional motorcycle brakes do not have an anti-lock feature. New riders may use the brakes too cavalierly and send themselves flying off their ride. Modern motorcycles are being designed with anti-lock brakes that automatically pump if the motorcyclist needs to stop in a hurry.
- LED lighting: One of the major causes of accidents is the failure of a driver in a car or larger vehicle to see the motorcyclist. With LED lights that becomes less of an issue. Even drivers who do not check their blindspots will sense that there is a vehicle there with a stronger LED light.
- Systems diagnostics: Now, like cars, motorcycles are equipped with systems diagnostics that provide the rider with key information that could prevent an accident before it occurs. This includes a tire pressure monitoring system.
- Stability control systems: Many motorcyclists wipe out when they take turns too quickly. Stability control systems can predict when this will happen by aiding riders navigating curves. These systems are bolstered by AI and machine learning and can analyze the motorcycle’s lean angle against the motorcycle’s speed.
Choose the Right Helmet for You
Even in places in places where helmets are required by law, you will still find riders who are not wearing one. Helmets save lives. Choosing the right helmet can save yours.
There is nothing between the pavement and your head except your helmet. In order to choose the proper helmet, you will want to test out various brands and styles to make sure that it is a good fit for your head shape. You do not want your head rattling around inside your helmet.
What does science have to say? Science says that the safest helmets are those that are equipped with chin bars. This is largely because chins tend to take a great deal of the impact during a crash.
It is also imperative to remember that helmets have a use life of about five years. Normal wear and tear and aging can reduce the structural integrity of a helmet. Helmets need to be replaced periodically.
Assume that Other Drivers Have No Clue What They are Doing
One of the major problems with motorcycles is that they force their riders to be the smartest people on the road. You need to have a sixth sense when it comes to anticipating sudden moves and avoiding accidents. How can you do this?
- Watch driver’s heads through their windows and in their mirrors: If you see a driver checking his or her mirrors, that can easily mean that the driver is about to change lanes. A driver likely will not veer a vehicle in one direction or the other without turning his or her head in that direction. You can anticipate what a driver is going to do by paying careful attention to what he or she is doing.
- Avoid getting between a vehicle and an offramp: We have all seen this happen once or twice. A car is trundling along in the middle lane and its driver suddenly realizes that it is going to pass its exit. What does the car do? It lunges right across two lanes to avoid having to backtrack. If you are between a car and the offramp, you are going to get hit. Avoid placing yourself in harm’s way by positioning yourself strategically.
- Scanning your environment: There are all kinds of reasons that riders are attracted to motorcycles. One of the best reasons is that it requires an incredible sense of alertness and a total commitment to be in the moment. In this way, bikers have a connection to the world around them that others will never get to experience. This requires that you do not let your eyes lock on any specific place. You keep scanning around your immediate vicinity, checking your mirrors, and anticipating everyone’s moves.
- Anticipating left-hand turns: Statistically, one of the most common accidents involves oncoming vehicles making left-hand turns while motorcycles are trying to go straight. If you see such a vehicle, you should immediately go into a heightened state of alert and be watching the driver’s hands and eyes. If the driver is looking anywhere but straight ahead, then it could be time to throttle down. If their hands start moving, they are going whether you like it or not.
- Find the open zone: Whenever you are riding on a busy street, you want to be as far away from the other cars as possible. One of the reasons why motorcycle accidents and fatalities are increasing is due to congestion on the roads. Find the open area whenever possible.
Use Your Lane Wisely
While riders are renowned for being adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers, the ones that do not end up as hood ornaments have learned the fine art of driving ultra-defensively. This means knowing what your advantages are as a smaller vehicle and using them to your advantage. For instance:
- Look ahead: As a smaller vehicle, you have more lane to work with. You can see past cars and trucks by occupying the part of the lane opposite of where they are. This will help you anticipate what they are going to do before they do it. It gives you way more time to react.
- Stay right: For motorcycles, staying right or left is almost always preferable to being in the middle lane. As an example, let us say you are stopped at a red light. Where would you prefer to be? Here, we are going to argue right. Why? Because the cars left of you will likely respond immediately to the light turning green and if some knucklehead is in a hurry and attempts to blow the red light, it is the larger vehicle that is going to take the brunt of the impact.
- Stay left: On highways, you almost have the opposite problem. Traffic is all going to be filtering right when it comes time to exit. If you are left, no one will veer into you on their way off the highway.
Be Aware of Road Hazards
There are a number of conditions that are just not conducive to riding a motorcycle. These include very windy days, very rainy days, and days where you can expect a lot of congestion. Additionally, as part of your scanning of the conditions around you, be sure to include the road itself. Debris in the middle of the road, small rodents, gravel, sand, and oil all make more of a difference to a motorcycle than they would to your average car. That is because cars have more wheels. There is more surface in contact with the pavement. Sometimes even that is not enough for the car to avoid an accident.
Safety Tips for New Riders
We saved this section for last because, if you have read through this article, you have an idea of what advanced and experienced riders need to know to keep themselves safe. If you are new to riding, then the last thing you want is a crash course. You want to slowly build your familiarity with your vehicle and ensure that you are comfortable with it before you take it into more dangerous environs.
- Avoid sport or supersport models: If you are new to riding, having a supersport model as your first bike can elevate your risks for accident as supersport models are intended to be handled by more experienced riders. We recommend you start off with a bike that isn’t so fast and easier to handle. These bikes are infinitely more dangerous than their more modest analogs.
- Invest in anti-lock brakes: New riders have a much greater propensity to be involved in single-vehicle crashes. One of the most common types of accident involves the over-use of brakes. Motorcycle brakes do not work like car brakes, typically. Not, unless, you invest in anti-lock brakes. Riders with anti-lock brakes are 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Even for seasoned riders, it may reduce your insurance premium, as well.
- Build confidence by sticking to known roads: Before you take your bike out on a trek across the country, you should familiarize yourself with your bike and be able to employ all of the techniques mentioned above. If you have not taken a motorcycle safety course, you should do it.
- Check your ride before hitting the road: You want to make sure everything is ready to go. This means checking your brakes, your tire pressure, and everything else. Brakes and tire pressure are particularly important because they are two of the most common things that go wrong with motorcycles.
Injured in a Crash? Talk to a Toronto, Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have done everything right and another driver caused you serious injury, you are entitled to sue. Talk to Preszler Law Firm today and schedule a free consultation. We can help.