Let’s face it. Motorcycles just aren’t as safe as cars. In 2008, motor vehicle crash-related deaths reached an all-time low in the U.S., while motorcyclist deaths reached an all-time high, more than doubling between 1999 and 2008, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For some, perhaps that danger is part of the appeal. There’s a certain rush that comes from feeling the wind press against your body and the bike rumble beneath you, not to mention the rush of having such a powerful machine in your control.
Even so, riding a motorcycle doesn’t have to be a safety hazard! Even though motorcycles lack the protective framing, airbags, and seatbelts of a vehicle, there are precautions motorcyclists can take to help stay safe when riding. Car drivers, too, can help motorcyclists stay safe by being aware of the unique challenges of riding a motorcycle. Here are a few safety tips for motorcyclists and car drivers alike.
Gear up. Since motorcyclists aren’t protected by the armored panels of a car, their clothing acts as the only barrier between their bodies and the harsh pavement should they have a wreck. Can you imagine sliding against the asphalt at 60 mph in shorts? Ouch! Talk about a road rash. Even a small rock could hurt when it's traveling fast.
Cover up with the appropriate safety gear including a D.O.T approved helmet, eye protection, over the ankle leather footwear, long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and full-fingered gloves, suggests the Motorcycle Rider Education Program of TN.
Be hyper-aware. Motorcycles are tough for drivers to see, especially drivers in large cars, trucks, mini-vans, and the like. Riders should try to stay on the left side of the road so that they're directly in the eyesight of the driver when he or she looks in their driver side mirror.
Even when a motorcyclist takes such precautions, a motorcycle can easily be hidden in a car's blind spots, says the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. And, because of a bike's narrow profile and small size, a motorcycle could seem farther away than it really is, and it could be difficult to judge a motorcycle's speed.
Drivers should take a few extra moments to look for motorcycles when changing lanes or turning at intersections.
Share the road. It sounds cheesy, but it's true. Motorcyclists and drivers should share the road with each other, but also with pedestrians and bicyclists if they're present too. Whether you're in a car or on a bike, leave a generous amount of following distance between you and other travelers.
Motorcyclists know that the question isn’t if they’ll fall, but when. Even so, there are steps motorcyclists and automobile drivers alike can take to help lower the risk of an accident and lessen the financial impact of a crash. Having the right amount of motorcycle or car insurance will help pay for repairs to the bike or vehicle, and medical expenses that may follow after an accident. Review your motorcycle insurance online, or get a quote for an affordable motorcycle policy. It's easier to enjoy the road ahead when you know you and your ride are insured.