Safety Tips for Beginning Motorcyclists
Your new motorcycle gives you a cool way to get around, and you love riding it. Whether you bought your motorcycle for an inexpensive and convenient commute or for the thrill of joyriding, you have a great time on your bike.
But you also know that motorcycle accidents account for a large number of highway accidents. You want to stay safe while on your motorcycle, especially while driving around cars and gaining road experience. Follow our safety tips below to reduce your risk of injury.
- Pick the Right First Bike
We know you just can’t get that red Ducati out of your mind. The time for a big, expensive bike will come, but when you’re first learning to ride, you need a motorcycle that you can drive safely.
Choose a motorcycle that fits you. When you sit down, you should be able to easily put both feet flat on the road. It’s not the best idea to stand on your tiptoes, especially since you still need to learn how to balance on a motorcycle.
You should also be able to easily reach the controls and handlebars. And don’t choose a motorcycle that weighs too much. You should be able to get the bike easily on and off the center stand.
- Perform Pre-Ride Inspections
Before you go for a ride, conduct a quick inspection to make sure your bike is in top condition. Check the following things before getting on the road:
- The chain, shaft, or belt for breakage or stiff grime
- Fuel and fluid levels (keep an eye out for leaks)
- Tire pressure and condition
Your motorcycle needs to be in good condition all of the time-a tire blow out may not be a big deal in a car, but on a motorcycle, it can be fatal. A pre-ride inspection before every ride can lower your risk for accidents and mechanical dysfunction.
- Avoid Bad Weather Conditions
Wet, slippery weather is dangerous for all motorcyclists, but new riders with less experience are especially at risk for accidents in poor conditions. If possible, just stay at home or drive in your car. You can get wet-road driving experience at your local motorcycle course. Use this facility to learn how to drive well in less-than-ideal conditions.
If you need to ride in the rain or snow, slow down and give yourself plenty of space. Cornering and other maneuvers are more dangerous in slick conditions, so be gentle with the throttle, brakes, and steering. Remember that the most dangerous time to bike is right when it begins to rain, before the oil on the road has washed away.
Bad weather can limit your visibility, so you’ll want to ride slowly and double-check before switching lanes. Rain also makes it difficult for other drivers to see you, so drive cautiously around other vehicles.
- Drive Defensively
In a perfect world, you’d have plenty of wide-open road-or you’d at least share the highway with drivers who are used to driving around motorcyclists. But despite many states’ efforts to increase motorcycle awareness, it can still be very dangerous to ride around other drivers.
Drive defensively to lower your risk for accidents. Always look twice before you maneuver and leave yourself plenty of room to accelerate, brake, and change lanes. Consider riding with other motorcyclists so that you’re easier to spot on the road.
Invest in anti-lock brakes and high-traction tires so you can slow down quickly. And keep an eye out for distracted or dangerous drivers who change lanes unexpectedly or accelerate and brake suddenly. Leave yourself plenty of following room so you can spot potential road hazards.
- Do It Right
If you’re going to ride a motorcycle, be smart, legal, and educated. Participate in a motorcycle-safety course so you can improve your skills and practice riding in a controlled environment. Trust us-your best friend isn’t the most qualified person to teach you how to ride. Work with professionals with experience and training.
After you’ve taken a course or two, get a license and ride legally. Take a safety and skills course every couple of years to refresh what you’ve learned.
When you’re on the road, take it seriously. Don’t take any risks, and always ride sober and distraction-free. Alcohol is a major factor in fatal motorcycle crashes. If you’ve been drinking, don’t get on the bike for any reason. Stay off the road and stay alive.
- Wear a Helmet
Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. If you don’t wear a helmet, you take a terrible risk each time you get on the road. Purchase a Department of Transportation-approved helmet with safety features, and always wear it when you ride.
Invest in other safety gear as well. Wear gloves, boots, and road gear that can protect you from dirt, rain, debris, and potential skidding. Denim, a t-shirt, and flip flops won’t protect you from road rash in the event of an accident.
As a beginning rider, these tips can help keep you safe and lower your risk of accidents. Even so, sometimes accidents happen. If you are hurt in a motorcycle accident, contact your personal injury attorney immediately.