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Motorcycle Safety Tips for RidersThis article was approved by Jim Adler
Riding a motorcycle on the open road provides riders with a sense of freedom that many feel is unmatched. Unlike drivers who sit in the cab of a car, people who ride motorcycles are surrounded only by unrestricted air and the world around them. While this makes for an exhilarating ride, it is also a dangerous one. Fortunately, there are a large number of safety tips that reduce the risk of accidents and injury. For the safety of themselves and all riders who share the road with them, it is important that motorcyclists understand what things to be cautious of and how they can be dangerous.
Check for Safety
Before taking a motorcycle out on the road, riders should check the safety of their bikes. To do that, they should verify that the bike’s tires are damage-free and inflated. The lights, including brake lights and turn signals, should be functioning properly, and the engine fluids should be checked. Other items that should be checked routinely for the care and maintenance of the motorcycle include electrical components, the frame, and the suspension.
The Right Gear
Wearing the wrong clothing on a motorcycle can result in devastating if not fatal injuries, while the right protective gear can help keep riders safe. Sandals, T-shirts, and other casual clothing aren’t enough to protect against scrapes against the road in the event of a crash or injury from flying debris during the ride. The appropriate type of gear is strong enough to provide protection to the body and is typically padded, reinforced, and made of strong, sturdy material such as leather. Instead of shorts that leave the legs partially exposed, riders should wear pants that cover them fully. Additionally, one’s arms should be covered by long sleeves, as opposed to tank tops or short-sleeved shirts. Footwear should keep the feet fully enclosed, with no part exposed or unprotected. Ideally, footwear should come up over the ankle for the most protection and comfort.
When it comes to protective gear, one’s eyes and face should also be properly protected with the use of goggles, a full-face motorcycle helmet, or a helmet with a protective visor in place. Of the three, a full helmet offers the most protection of the face and head. When selecting a helmet, choose one that is approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Riders must also be aware of the specific helmet laws in their state. Additionally, motorcycle gear should also be light-colored or reflective for maximum visibility on the road.
Numerous road hazards can cause an accident to occur for a motorcyclist. Things such as rocks and gravel are dangers on the road and may cause a loss of traction and control. Even wet leaves can prove problematic. Motorcyclists should do their best to avoid road debris, if possible, and to drive cautiously without sudden movements when gravel is encountered. Other hazards include unkempt roads with cracks and potholes that can cause tire damage or may even throw the driver off of their bike. Puddles of water can conceal dangers such as debris or may cause the motorcycle to hydroplane.
When possible, motorcyclists should avoid riding in extreme weather situations, including snow or heavy rainstorms. Bad weather such as rain greatly reduces visibility. Slick conditions also reduce a motorcycle’s ability to respond and maneuver safely. People who must ride in poor weather conditions should do so with caution. This means being gentle when braking, avoiding movements that are sudden, and being prepared for things such as strong winds. Black ice is yet another issue that motorcyclists must be aware of when riding in winter weather.
Defensive driving is as important to a motorcyclist as it is to the driver of a car, truck, or other vehicle. When driving defensively, riders should constantly keep their eyes in motion and plan a way out in anticipation of the unexpected. This means that motorcyclists must be aware of their surroundings at all times. They should also be focused and avoid anything that can divide their attention and be a distraction.
Other motorcycle safety tips to follow include obeying the posted speed limit or keeping to a speed that is safe for the road conditions. Riders should also keep a safe distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them. Headlights should be kept on, even during the daytime hours, and motorcyclists should take care to stay visible to other vehicles and never sit in their blind spot. If there is a question of visibility, riders should use their horns to alert other drivers to their presence.