What Is A Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycling is a dangerous activity. It’s not quite as risky as skydiving, but it’s pretty close. In 2010, about 486 motorcyclists died on U.S. roadways and approximately 57,000 were injured in collisions (NHTSA). Motorcycle accidents can result in serious injuries or death to the rider and numerous bystanders (e.g., the driver, passengers in other vehicles, pedestrians). If you want to drive a motorcycle or ride one as a passenger, then you must know how to prevent an accident from happening in the first place.
And if you’re in an accident, then you must know how to protect yourself or your loved ones from the serious effects of a motorcycle crash. But it all starts with prevention. Below are several tips designed to encourage safer riding habits and reduce the risk of getting into a fatal motorcycle accident.
Tips To Avoid Motorcycle Accident
#1: Don’t drink and drive
Riding a motorcycle while intoxicated is never acceptable. Regardless of your level of experience, you should never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs and if you do, it can be considered a criminal offense. Moreover, riding with even minimal amounts of alcohol in your system has been shown to impair judgment and increase one’s chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident. So if you are going to drink, then don’t ride the motorcycle. Instead, use a designated driver or cab service and have them pick up your bike from wherever it is parked so that you can avoid any drunk driving-related penalties.
#2: Wear protective equipment
At a minimum, always wear an approved helmet. It’s not only the law in many states, but it will substantially reduce your risk of dying or suffering brain injury if you are involved in a motorcycle accident. Other recommended protective gear includes gloves, boots, and other clothing that is designed to protect you from impact injuries and abrasion.
Although these items may make it more difficult for you to ride a motorcycle, they will serve to protect you if you end up being involved in a crash. Another option for protection is wearing body armor, which may be worn under or over your normal clothes, depending on the circumstances. This can save you from serious motorcycle accidents.
#3: Be visible
Your helmet and other protective gear should help defend you from impact injuries (i.e., slicks burns, etc.) should you be involved in a crash, but they won’t protect you from other hazards such as being run over by another vehicle. To prevent this from occurring, always make sure that your motorcycle is equipped with proper lighting and reflectors so that you can be seen while riding at night or during inclement weather. Motorcycle riders should also be sure that they are visible to other drivers.
So, for example, if you’re traveling against traffic on a multi-lane road, then position yourself in the rightmost lane so that all other motorists will be able to see you from as far away as possible.
#4: Ride defensively
Motorcycle riders should always assume that other drivers are distracted, drunk, or otherwise unaware of what is going on around them. While being drunk leads to motorcycle accidents. As a result, always ride defensively and look for potential hazards (e.g., large trucks making right turns in front of you). Also, be sure to stay out of other’s blind spots. And if another driver does not see you, then honk your horn so that they know to avoid hitting you.
#5: Avoid riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The above-mentioned tips for drivers also apply to motorcycle riders. For example, never ride a motorcycle if you’re tired or are taking any kind of medication (e.g., painkillers) that may make it more difficult for you to maintain control of the bike. If you cannot function normally while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then do not ride a motorcycle until you can operate it safely without being impaired. Drugs are the major cause of motorcycle accidents, they also involve people walking on the road.
#6: Use proper body position when riding
Always practice good body positioning so that you can maintain greater control and stability over your motorcycle. Some basic guidelines include not stretching your torso, tucking in your elbows, and keeping your feet approximately 30 inches apart when riding. Also, remember to keep both of your hands on the handlebars at all times while riding so that you can have greater control over the motorcycle.
#7: Avoid excessive speeds
Overspeeding is the prime cause of motor accidents especially motorcycle accidents. There is no reason for you to be traveling at excessive speeds while riding down the road. For one thing, there is no need to put yourself at greater risk of being involved in a motorcycle accident by traveling too fast. Plus excessive speed can also be a distraction for motorcyclists. So even if you’re an experienced rider, it’s best to avoid taking your motorcycle beyond its capabilities (i.e., your comfort zone) because doing so can increase the likelihood that you will lose control of the bike.
#8: Avoid speeding up to merge onto a highway or pass another vehicle
Sometimes drivers on a multi-lane road will create their own lanes by moving into the other lane before merging with traffic (e.g., make a lane of 2 lanes). This can cause motorcyclists to either slow down to avoid colliding with the other vehicle or risk getting stuck in traffic on their side of the road. Therefore, it’s best to remain aware of what is going on around you as you ride your motorcycle and only merge onto a highway when there is plenty of room for you to safely do so. In addition, if you need to pass another vehicle while riding on a multi-lane road, then slow down before moving into the other lane.
#9: Practice defensive stopping techniques
All motorcycle riders should practice good braking techniques to stop their bike as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, if you are traveling at 30 mph and need to stop for a red light, then it will take you about 60 feet to come to a complete halt – by which time the vehicle ahead of you may be nearing your position. Therefore you should learn how to apply brakes before coming up on any potential hazards.
#10: Avoid riding in groups
Riding in a group of two or more can be a fun and exhilarating experience. However, if some members of the group cannot follow basic rules for safe operation (e.g., riding too fast), then it is best to ride alone – or with only one other motorcyclist as a passenger. Also, note that you should never try to keep up with any faster motorcycles or drivers – as this can put you at greater risk of being involved in a motorcycle accident.
#11: Practice shifting gears appropriately
You should practice shifting your motorcycle to the correct gear before approaching a turn, stop sign, traffic light, etc. For example, if you’ve been accelerating up until now but need to slow down once you reach the stop sign, then shift down before crossing over to a lower gear so that you can slow down more effectively.
#12: Mind your speed at every intersection
You should always slow down and prepare for a turn or stop when approaching any intersection because vehicles may not see you as they are driving around the corner. So if you are riding a motorcycle, it is best to slow down before coming up on any bends or curves in the road especially if you don’t know what lies ahead.
#13: Avoid being distracted by your cell phone
You should always try to avoid using your cell phone while operating a vehicle because this can be extremely hazardous and lead to driver distraction. The same would go for using any other mobile electronic device while riding your motorcycle. The use of cell phones is the prime cause of motorcycle accidents on highways.
#14: Avoid being distracted by passengers
Riding with a passenger on the back of your bike can be fun but you need to make sure that you are only allowing other people to ride with you if they know how to handle their vehicle properly. Having an inexperienced passenger on the back with you while you are moving can not only distract you but also cause your bike to skid out of control.
#15: Avoid speeding up to try and avoid a motorist who is making an unsafe lane change
Sometimes motorists will swerve into another lane without signaling their intention first which can be very dangerous if there is a motorcycle or other vehicle in that lane. Therefore, if you see a motorist move into your lane without signaling first, then slow down to avoid colliding with them as they may not be able to see you.
#16: Avoid riding when intoxicated
Even experienced bikers make mistakes while operating their motorcycles but if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while riding your bike then you will not only be putting yourself in danger but other motorists and pedestrians as well.
#17: Avoid wearing loose clothing
You should always wear tight-fitting clothes when operating a motorcycle to prevent them from getting caught in your bike’s moving parts or the braking system (e.g., rear wheel). For example, loose pants can be dragged into the rear tire and bent rims may cause your ankle to get caught in the spokes thus leading to motorcycle accidents. For safety on the road, read and follow this article on motorcycle safety.
#18: Avoid riding at night if possible
Riding a motorcycle at night is extremely dangerous because it is more difficult for motorists to see you on the road. Therefore, if at all possible, you should try to avoid riding at night and instead supervise new riders.
#19: Avoid operating a motorcycle with faulty brakes
You should always check your bike’s entire braking system every time you go for a ride just to be sure that everything is working properly (e.g., front brake and rear tire). If the brakes feel spongy or if you have lost the ability to stop your bike, then take it back to get repaired immediately.
#20: Avoid operating a hot motorcycle
Avoid riding any type of vehicle if you feel that it is too hot and uncomfortable for you. A motorcycle with an overheated engine can become extremely dangerous and lead to rider discomfort which is why you should always try to avoid this at all costs.
#21: Avoid operating a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Even though it may not seem like you are intoxicated when driving a motorcycle, you will still be putting yourself in danger and other motorists on the road if you have been drinking beforehand. That is why it is best to avoid operating a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
#22: Avoid following too closely behind other motorcyclists
You should always give yourself enough room between yourself and all other moving vehicles on the road so that you can respond to any unexpected hazards accordingly. For example, if another biker were to suddenly stop short in front of you then you would have enough time to react accordingly to avoid a motorcycle accident.
#23: Avoid riding on busy streets
If there are too many cars on the road, then it is best to ride in a place where fewer vehicles are moving through the area (e.g., rural areas). By doing this, you will reduce your chances of getting into a motorcycle accident.
#24: Avoid riding in the rain
If you were to ride a motorcycle in the rain, then you would have less traction and be more likely to skid out of control due to poor visibility and slick roadways. That is why it is best for new riders not to ride when it is raining and instead wait for the skies to clear up.
#25: Avoid riding in heavy traffic
If you are going to ride a motorcycle, then it is best not to do so during rush hour because this can be very dangerous for all motorists on the road as there is more congestion when cars move at slow speeds due to bumper-to-bumper traffic.
#26: Avoid riding at night without a headlight
Motorcycles are equipped with headlights for a reason which is to illuminate the road ahead of you so that you can see what is coming and avoid potential hazards along the way. If your bike does not have one or if it does not work properly then do not ride at night. Instead, you should wait until the next morning to take your bike out for a ride.
#27: Avoid riding on an unfamiliar motorcycle
If you were to ride another person’s motorcycle, then it is best not to do so unless you have received training and are familiar with that model of bike. If you are riding on an unfamiliar bike, then you will not know how to respond. That is why it is best to avoid doing this at all costs. Driving an unfamiliar bike can also lead to a motorcycle accident.
#28: Avoid traveling too fast or recklessly
You should always avoid going too fast while operating a motorcycle as this can cause you to lose control of your bike and crash into something along the way. That is why it is best not to go any faster than 35 miles per hour while riding a motorcycle.
#29: Avoid racing on the highway or city streets
It isn’t necessarily illegal to race your bike, but you should never do so because there are too many vehicles moving through the area which can cause you to harm if anything were to go wrong. That is why it is best to avoid racing altogether and to only speed in a place where you can do so safely.
#30: Avoid turning without using your signals or checking blind spots
It may be tempting for some motorcyclists to quickly turn their body positions without signaling other motorists behind them that they are making a sharp turn, but it is always best to do so and to check the rearview mirrors to ensure that no other drivers are tailgating you.
#31: Avoid riding at high speeds on a single-track road
If there are sharp turns or multiple blind spots along a narrow road then you should avoid taking your motorcycle down them. However, if the roads are wide enough so that you can avoid these scenarios, then it is best to do so and to ride as fast as you can.
#32: Avoid passing cars without checking your blind spot or rearview mirror
There may be times when a car will pass you, but this presents an added danger because there could be another vehicle in their blind spot that you did not see in the rearview mirror. That is why it is best to check the mirrors and blind spots before passing any vehicles on the road.
#33: Avoid driving along curvy roads if you are a beginner
If you have recently learned how to drive motorbikes, then it is best not to ride along curvy roads until you are more comfortable with this type of road. Instead, you should stick to the straight and narrow as it is safer in the long run.
#34: Avoid passing a car if it has its turn signal
Sometimes, a driver will use their turn signal shortly before making a sharp turn, but this doesn’t mean that you should blithely pass them. Instead, you should either slow down behind the car or stay put and wait until they make their turn before proceeding as well.
#35: Avoid making curvy turns if a vehicle is following you
If there is another vehicle tailgating you and it has its headlights on, then it is best to make a sharp swerve in your lane or on the road so that they can immediately pass you. If the turn isn’t too tight or wide, then this can be easily accomplished without any issues. Overtaking vehicles can lead to motorcycle accidents.
These were a few tips to help you in avoiding motorcycle accidents.