its that time of year again, STAY SAFE!
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, designed to encourage all drivers and motorcyclists to share the road with each other. Increased awareness of motorcycle safety has helped improve the number of injuries and fatalities of motorcyclists.
In 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a decrease of 2.3% from 4,692 in 2013. Those deaths account for 14% of the total highway fatalities that year. This decrease in motorcycle fatalities continues to break a tragic trend over the last 17 years, which saw only one other decline in 2009. Injured motorcyclists also decreased from 93,000 in 2013 to 88,000 in 2014.
Safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users will help continue to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on U.S. highways, but it is especially important for motorists to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists (such as size and visibility) and motorcycle riding practices like downshifting and weaving to know how to anticipate and respond to them. By raising motorists' awareness, both drivers and riders will be safer sharing the road.
1. Always wear a helmet
A motorcycle helmet is a rider's best friend and the most important piece of safety equipment to protect against a critical head injury. In many states, it is also the law.
Make sure your helmet is Department of Transportation-approved, and includes a face shield or protective eyewear to help reduce wind noise and deflect debris that flies through the air.
2. Wear protective clothing
Leather goes a long way to help protect motorcycle riders in case of an accident. Leather jackets, gloves, pants and boots offer good protection from road scrapes and minimizes severe injuries. Reflective clothing will also make it easier for other drivers to see you, especially at night.
3. Take a motorcycle safety course
Hone and sharpen your riding skills with a formal motorcycle safety course. Courses such as theMSF Basic riding course is one of the best ways to learn the basics of operating a motorcycle and making wise judgments when riding. Some insurance companies offer participants a discount for completion of a course.
4. Check your bike
Proper motorcycle maintenance is just as important as practicing safe riding. Inspect the tires for air and make sure the lights are in good working condition. Also periodically check and test the clutch and throttle, brake fluid, controls and adjust the mirrors.
5. Follow the rules of the road
Speed limits and local traffic laws are there to keep riders safe at all times. Remember to obey the rules of the road and always pass vehicles on the passing lane. Give yourself enough time to brake.
6. Ride defensively
Many motorcycle accidents are caused by a driver violating a rider's right of way. Ride with your headlights on at all times and signal well in advance of any change in direction. Always watch for turning vehicles and be extra careful in inclement weather.
7. Stay out of blind spots
It's difficult for drivers to see a motorcycle so riding in a vehicle's blind spot is a dangerous proposition. Position your motorcycle in the lane behind a car so that you can be seen at all times.
8. Watch for road hazards
Potholes, train tracks, oil slicks and roadway debris can cause problems for the most experienced rider. Stay alert and avoid possible road hazards.
9. Don't drink and ride
It's illegal to operate a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol affects judgment, vision and decreases your ability to ride and react defensively. Under any circumstances, you should never drink and ride a motorcycle.