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Motorcycle safety tips

Whether you're a new motorcyclist or you've been riding for years, these 10 motorcycle safety tips will remind you how to stay safe on your next ride.

Riding a motorcycle is adventurous and an exhilarating experience. However, the harsh reality is that motorcycle riding can be very dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimated that motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than people in a car. The DOT also reported that a total of 5,029 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016—an increase of 5.1% from 2015.

With statistics like these, it makes sense to take safety seriously while driving motorcycles. We’ve compiled a list of tips, so you can safely enjoy your ride.

  1. Take a safety course.

    A safety course will teach you the rules of the road for motorcycles. You will also learn the appropriate actions to take in unpredictable riding situations that can arise. Driving a motorcycle requires skill and good judgment and a safety course can help you practice these.

  2. Check the weather before heading out.

    Rain, ice and snow can compromise your ride. Driving in these elements is hazardous for bikers because you have less traction than a car and visibility is lower. Choose a different day if inclement weather is in the forecast.

  3. Wear motorcycle gear.

    Motorcycle gear protects you from the elements, debris and road rash. Appropriate gear includes a DOT-approved helmet, goggles, leather jacket, leather pants or chaps, over the ankle boots and non-slip gloves. Dress in layers to adjust to any changing weather throughout the day.

  4. Inspect your motorcycle before each ride.

    It’s a good idea to inspect your bike before you ride to ensure it is as safe as possible. Check your headlights, taillights, turn signals, brakes, fuel, oil, tire pressure, mirrors, handlebars and horn.

  5. Obey traffic rules, use your signals and drive the speed limit.

  6. This may sound remedial, but it’s important to follow traffic rules, use signals and drive the posted speed limit to avoid accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2009 48% of motorcyclist deaths were caused by excessive speed.

  7. Be visible.

    You cannot assume you are visible to other drivers. According to The Hurt Report published by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration in 1981, 75% of accidents involving motorcycles are due to the fact that other drivers did not see the motorcycle. Here are some ways to remain visible: Avoid other drivers’ blind spots; Drive with your headlights on even during the day; Wear reflective or bright clothing, and; always use your turn signals and hand signals.

  8. Be observant and watch for road hazards.

    Driving defensively enables you to anticipate traffic problems and road hazards. Sand, oil and gravel can make you lose traction. Bumps and potholes are equally dangerous and should also be avoided. Cross railroad tracks at the appropriate angle.

  9. Stay at a safe distance.

    Tailgating is not safe. It is recommended to stay at least four seconds away from the vehicle in front of you. This will allow you to stop in an emergency situation. Also, it is good to have an escape route in mind such as moving to the shoulder should you not be able to stop in time.

  10. Carry a first-aid kit.

    Keeping a basic first-aid kit with your motorcycle is a good idea in case of injury. It should include: disinfecting wipes, bandages, hand sanitizer, gauze, adhesive tape and Band-Aids.

  11. Take an advanced riding course.

    Practice and increase your skills by taking an advanced riding course. You will learn collision avoidance maneuvers, advanced turning, control tips and braking techniques.

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