9 Motorcycle Safety Tips
Motorcycles are fuel efficient and fun, but are far more dangerous than other types of ground transportation. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in cars.
If you’re looking to get a motorcycle for the first time, here are nine tips to help keep you safe:
- Too much bike. When looking for your first motorcycle, it’s important to get a bike that you can handle. Opt for a small engine and try out the bike first to see if you can reach everything properly. If you have to stretch to reach the handlebars or be on your tiptoes to reach the ground, then the bike is too big, and you’re not going to be able to control it properly.
- Anti-lock brakes. In a study, the IIHS said that motorcycles with anti-lock brakes were 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those without. While traditional brakes can restrict steering control, anti-lock brakes allow the operator to steer away from objects while slowing down. According to Consumer Reports, anti-lock brakes are now standard on high-end models and are only a few hundred dollars more on other models, which is well worth the investment.
- Practice. According to the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles, one of the ways you can get a motorcycle license is by completing a beginner rider course at a facility approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Drivers can also rent out time at these locations to hone their skills on a closed track.
- Helmets. Utah only requires helmets for riders under the age of 18, but there are a lot to reasons to wear one no matter your age. According to Consumer Reports, riders without a helmet are 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and three times more likely to suffer brain injuries.
- Gear. Just like how you should protect your head with a helmet, you should get the right gear to shield the rest of your body from harm. In addition to accidents, the right gear can prevent you from suffering the effects of wind chill and injuries from debris and insects at high speeds.
- Drive defensively. A study from the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research reports that in accidents involving a car and a motorcycle, the driver of the car was found to be at fault 60 percent of the time. Because of this, it is good to always be aware of your surroundings and to never drive aggressively. Two key components of this is to never tailgate and to look out for sudden, erratic behavior from other drivers on the road.
- Avoid bad weather. For motorcyclists, especially new ones, it is always recommended to not drive in inclement weather. Rain can severely reduce your visibility and limits your tires’ grip on the road, making cornering extremely difficult. If you get caught in a storm, slow down, go easy on the brakes and do not make sudden steering movements. Another situation to be careful in is driving in strong winds. In these instances, try limiting your driving to headwinds or tailwinds. In crosswinds, stay more to the side of the lane that the wind is coming from so that it does not push you into the lane on the other side.
- Road hazards. Because motorcycles have less contact with the road than cars, small variations in the road can have a much greater impact. Keep an eye out for things like puddles, sand, bumps, rocks, potholes and other obstacles and avoid them at all costs.
- Inspection. Before heading out, especially on extended rides, always do a quick inspection of your bike. If anything looks out of the ordinary, have it looked at as soon as possible.