Now that summer is officially in full swing, it’s time to get your motorcycle ready for those long cruises. For many Californians, taking care of their bike and riding with friends and family is a favorite pastime, especially during the warm summer months. However, it is important to know basic motorcycle safety before you head off on your biking adventures.
Operating a motorcycle has a lot more responsibilities as the risks for accidents and injuries are higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are about 29 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and are 4 times more likely to be injured. Whether you are a new rider or a veteran of the roadways, taking bike safety seriously is essential. Bikers are at an increased risk of serious injury every time they hit the road. These tips will help all riders ensure that their trip is as safe as possible.
Motorcycle safety tips to prepare for your trip
Ensuring you have a safe ride begins before you even straddle your motorcycle. You should check your bike before every long ride, especially if it is the first time you are taking the bike out this summer. Give the lights, brakes, tires, and mirrors a sound quality check. If you know that you are going on a long ride with your motorcycle over the weekend, check the bike out a couple of days before so that you have plenty of time to make any adjustments. You may even consider taking it out for a short ride around town as well to test that everything is in working order. If you don’t follow basic motorcycle safety protocols, you are putting yourself, and those sharing the road with you, in serious danger.
Check the weather
Poor weather conditions are dangerous for everyone to drive in, but with only two tires, bikes are even more susceptible to the bad weather. Keep an eye on the weather whenever you plan to ride. If it looks like storms or high winds are heading your way, refrain from driving until it clears. And, if bad weather overtakes you in the middle of the ride, don’t be afraid to safely pull over and wait it out. Trying to beat the storm can be fatal. Riding a motorcycle in the heat can be equally as dangerous as driving in rainy and windy conditions. Heat exhaustion is quite common among riders during the hot summer months, especially on those long afternoon rides. Avoid riding during early to mid-afternoon when the heat is usually the strongest. Try getting an early start or an evening ride in on the hotter days. Plan out a few stops and always carry plenty of water with you to ensure that heat exhaustion and dehydration do not get to you. As the rider, motorcycle safety starts with your overall wellbeing, and your ability to safely operate your bike.
Get the proper bike safety equipment
Motorcycles do not provide nearly as much safety compared to cars; with lack of seatbelts, airbags, and doors. There are traffic laws in place specifically regarding motorcycle safety. California Vehicle Code requires motorcycle riders to wear a safety helmet. However, a helmet is not the only safety gear a biker should consider wearing when out on a ride. Other safety gear includes:
- Gloves: A pair of weatherproof gloves not only help riders get a strong and comfortable grip on their handlebars at all times, but they also protect riders if they were to fall off their bike. If a rider is thrown off their bike, they will naturally try to brace the fall using their hands. A durable pair of gloves will help lessen the amount of damage done to the rider’s hands.
- Boots: A pair of sturdy boots will also help riders maintain a firm grip on their bike. They will also help keep the rider’s feet and ankles protected during a fall.
- Jacket: A thick jacket protects the rider from debris and other airborne materials. Especially when traveling at high speeds, debris can cause damage to the rider’s skin if left unprotected.
- Shin, elbow, and knee guards: During a fall, the knees and elbows are often most vulnerable to damage. Covering them with protective guards lessens the impact and may even prevent broken bones or other serious injuries.
Eyes on the road
Staying alert while driving is important for all vehicles on the road. However, where drivers in a car or truck can handle a pothole, branch or debris, gravel, or animals with ease, those hazards can be fatal for motorcyclists. Distracted driving applies to bike safety as well. Keep your eyes on the road at all times and remain alert to objects or poor road conditions. If avoiding them is impossible, at the very least you can slow your speed to reduce the damage.
Make your motorcycle visible
Motorcycles are significantly smaller than cars, trucks, buses, and semi-trucks. They are easily hidden by these other vehicles or overlooked from a quick glance in rearview mirrors. Although this isn’t the fault of the bikers, it is the harsh reality that they have to deal with. Unfortunately, motorcycle safety also relies on the responsibility of others. Drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, including bikes. However, if a biker is not making an effort to make themselves visible on the road, they can be overlooked by larger vehicles. This will significantly increase the chance of accidents. Bikers can do a few things to make themselves more visible to other drivers on the road:
- Place reflective decals on your bike or helmet
- Wear reflective clothing while riding
- Keep your headlights on at all times
- Flash brake lights when coming to a stop or preparing to turn
- Use your turn signal well in advance
- Be prepared to use your horn to alert other drivers if necessary
Ride safely: Never drink and drive
This one goes beyond motorcycle safety and applies to all occupants on the road. Operating a vehicle or a motorcycle after drinking is illegal across the country. Doing so puts not only yourself at serious risk of injury or death, but it also creates risk for others. Motorcyclists are already vulnerable enough on the road. Adding a few drinks to the equation makes riders less alert to other drivers, debris, or poor road conditions. Bikers that plan to stop for a drink or two on their ride should take extra precautions. If you are unsure if you are below the legal limit, you should not try to drive. Know your limit and always give yourself enough time to sober up before hitting the road.
Contact an Experienced California Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one is a victim of a motorcycle accident in California, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney as you may be entitled to compensation. The California motorcycle injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can then help determine if you have a personal injury claim. With multiple offices located in Irvine, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our motorcycle accident lawyers represent victims across California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 949-727-9300.
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