Your mother might tell you that the best motorcycle safety tip is to leave the bike at home and take the car. Technically, she's right - motorcycles have a much higher fatality rate than other types of vehicles. If you've decided to scare your mother half to death and ride a motorcycle anyway, it's important that you stay safe, for the sake of your health and your motorcycle insurance premium. We've put together our top four tips to help you avoid an accident.
1. Obey the law
Speeding is dangerous in any vehicle, but it is particularly risky on a motorcycle. It might seem obvious, but in a car you have tons of steel to protect you in the event of an accident, as well as a seat belt and airbags. The same is not true on a bike. If you get into an accident, you could go flying or skid across the road. Use your judgment - even if you aren't going above the speed limit, you may be going too fast to safely avoid a collision on your motorcycle, which takes longer to stop than a car.
"Lane sharing," which means driving your motorcycle in the gap in-between cars, is illegal in most states. Lane sharing is incredibly dangerous. Even if you find yourself in a state or country that permits the practice, we suggest that you do not try it. Skimming a few seconds off your commute isn't worth risking your life.
2. Wear the proper gear
You, and any passengers on your motorcycle, should always wear a helmet. According to a Cochrane Collaboration study, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury on a motorcycle by 69 percent.
In addition, motorcycle riders should ideally be wearing full-body gear. This includes gloves and protective body wear according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Leather is the material of choice for many riders, and not just because it looks tough. Leather provides you with good protection in the event that you skid across the pavement. It's a bit more expensive, but much cheaper than dealing with the aftermath of a bad accident.
3. Pretend that you're invisible
The NHTSA warns that, when you're on a motorcycle, you should pretend that you're invisible to other drivers, as they will often behave as if you are. Any experienced biker will tell you that cars commonly turn into your path at intersections, shift into your lane while you're still there, or do any number of unsafe things that can put you at risk. Unfortunately, short of promoting better awareness, there isn't much you can do to prevent this kind of behavior, so be ready for it and practice defensive driving. Do wear clothing that will help you stand out, especially at night.
4. Be aware of weather conditions
Weather affects motorcycles more than other vehicles, so make sure you're up to date on the forecast before you leave. Weather patterns are unpredictable, so you could leave your house on a sunny day only to be caught off guard by a summer storm, making it unsafe for you to ride home. Ideally, you should never ride a motorcycle in the rain or snow, because both greatly increase your risk of slipping and getting into a accident. If you do get caught in bad weather, try to find somewhere to wait out the storm rather than trying to beat it home. Roads are slickest in the first hour of a storm.
Avoiding accidents is about more than keeping your motorcycle insurance low, it's about staying alive and healthy. Learn more about the motorcycle coverage that's right for you and your bike.