On average more than eight million motorcyclists hit the road every year. Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash and five times more likely to be injured. In 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists died in crashes while another 92,000 were injured according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Stay safe out there. Don’t become a statistic.
Following are two safety checklists: one for drives and one for riders.
- First and foremost, as a driver you need to be aware of your surroundings especially motorcycles. There are a lot more cars and trucks on the road making motorcycles easily forgotten and hidden.
- Keep in mind that due to its smaller size, a motorcycle may appear to be farther away than what it actually is and plan accordingly.
- The small size of a motorcycle also gives the appearance of increased speed. Not all motorcycles are actually speeding, some just look like they are.
- When following, give motorcyclists more room than you would a car. Motorcycles usually slow down by downshifting and easing up on the throttle which doesn’t activate a brake light. Be prepared for a slow down without a visual warning.
- Due to decreased traction, motorcyclists often change and adjust their position within a lane. They do this for a variety of reasons including to be seen more easily by other motorists and avoid obstacles such as debris and sand. Just remember most of these adjustments are made for a purpose and not to be reckless.
- Although increased maneuverability is one of the perks of operating a motorcycle, don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to stop or get out of the way in time.
- Last but certainly not least, when you encounter a motorcycle on the road, think of it as a person and not as a motorcycle.
- Protect your noggin and wear a helmet. We’ve all seen what happens when a grape gets smashed.
- Use your turn signals either manually with your arms or electronically through your one man (and occasional passenger) riding machine.
- Wear appropriate attire, like boots and gloves. No shorts and sandals unless you like dealing with an extreme case of road rash.
- Look where you want to go because you will go where you look- it’s that simple. Keep those eyes focused on the road and avoid running into surprises or the other lane.
- Avoid using the front brake first. Remember that time you were barreling down a hill full speed on your bicycle, pushed your hand break to stop and went flying? Yeah same concept. Apply your foot break first and you will be glad you did.
- Down shift and chill. Riding is all about weight distribution and traction. If you go into a turn or corner too hot and try to brake you’re going to be thrown off balance. Instead, shift down and brake before the turn. Save the going fast part for your way out.
- Look out for sand, debris and other obstructions on the road. Gravel and sand between the pavement and tires give your motorcycle even less traction than it had before and is best avoided altogether. However, if you happen to find yourself riding across an unavoidable sand trap remember to keep it slow and steady along with keeping your hog as upright as possible.
- You also should be on the lookout for other motorists, cars and trucks. You will likely see them before they see you if they even see you at all.
- Last but not least, please don’t drink and ride!