Spend a lot of time on motorcycles? Or maybe even just once in a blue moon?
If so, you know that motorcycle safety isn’t exactly intuitive. Biking is a skill, and so is avoiding injury in the process.
The truth is that many other motorists — the ones driving SUVs, minivans, sedans, and semi-trailer trucks — don’t know a thing about how motorcycles really work.
They aren’t looking for you, they don’t know how much distance to allow you, and in many cases, they see your very presence on the road as a hassle.
Given that reality, the person you can best rely on to protect yourself is, well, you.
We’re big believers in good habits. As Bakersfield motorcycle accident lawyers, we’ve seen some truly devastating bike accident injuries. Even though the motorcycle driver usually isn’t at legal fault in these crashes, there is a lot you can do as a biker to reduce your likelihood of harm.
After all, likelihood isn’t on your side to begin with. Motorcyclists have a higher rate of collision, serious injury, and death than other motorists — precisely because drivers create such dangerous circumstances around you.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of five essential motorcycle safety tips for our readers. Because they’re easy and practical, you can start making these simple habits part of your daily biking routine today!
1. Put Fashion First
That might sound like odd advice, but it all depends on how you define “fashion.”
In the motorcycle world, what you wear can be just as important as how you ride. Your wardrobe and gear choices can make all the difference in whether you have a crash and how serious the injuries are if you do.
Helmets are an obvious part of this, and that should go without saying. If you know enough about motorcycles to operate one, you should already know that helmets are an absolute must — every time, no exceptions.
But we’re talking about more than just head gear here. Consider these “fashion choices” as first steps in your new quest for motorcycle safety:
- Wear bright colors. Bikers tend to wear a lot of black and brown, but that makes you harder to see, especially at night. Reflective tape can give your wardrobe an extra, eye-catching flare.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, even in warmer weather. They can help protect your skin if you’re thrown off your bike.
- Invest in good gloves and safety glasses. Remember: your gloves should protect your hands, but they should also allow you nimble control of the clutch.
- Get the right shoes. We’re talking rugged heels with a good grip, sturdy ankle support, and closed toes. (Don’t be one of those riders whose shoes slip off halfway down the highway!)
2. Play the Escape Game
No matter what kind of vehicle you drive, it’s always a good idea to leave adequate following distance between you and the next vehicle. But as a motorcyclist, you might want to think about a different kind of safety space: “the escape path.”
When approaching a stop, turn, bank, or any other potential problem area, keep a watchful eye on the traffic around you. That includes the cars coming up behind you!
What if they don’t see you and stop in time? Wouldn’t it be nice if you’ve left yourself enough space to quickly scoot out of harm’s way? So many California motorcycle accidents happen because the biker is essentially trapped in a dangerous situation with no way out.
3. Remember What Your Mother Said About Other People
For many people, biking is as much a community activity as it is a primary means of transportation. If you like to ride in groups, that’s great! California is home to many wonderful and supportive motorcycle communities.
But no one can get you in hot water as quickly as the people you’re sharing a lane with. We’ve heard many bikers tell us about the pressure they’ve felt to drive recklessly because someone else in the group is a show-off.
Remember what your mother said: “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”
When riding with other bikers, keep these group motorcycle safety skills in mind:
- Only ride with people you know and are comfortable with.
- Ride with bikers who have a similar level of experience. Biking “out of your league” can get you in trouble.
- If the rest of the group starts going too fast for your blood, feel free to hang back. You can catch up with the group later!
- Make a pact with your fellow bikers before hitting the asphalt — always to obey the law, never to speed, and to drive safely in every circumstance.
4. Yawning Is for Beds, Not Bikes
You probably already know that drunk driving is bad (and illegal), regardless of what your vehicle looks like. And these days, you’ve probably seen enough people texting while driving to know you should never do that on a motorcycle either.
Any kind of driver distraction is a danger, for that matter, and you should pledge to keep your biking distraction free at all times.
But there’s one kind of driver distraction that’s just as dangerous as a DUI and yet doesn’t get discussed as much — drowsy biking.
You should never take a motorcycle on the road if you’re too tired to drive. We all have restless nights where we don’t get enough shuteye, but if that’s the case, call a cab.
Motorcycling is a serious responsibility that requires steadfast focus. High speeds and heavy eyes don’t mix.
5. The Weather App Is Your Friend
Driving in the rain is so much riskier on a motorcycle than in a car. With only two tires, you have just half the traction. And without a massive windshield in front of you, it simply isn’t possible to adequately clear away heavy rain. Rainy roads are more slippery. Heavy downpours hurt an exposed body, too.
So as soon as those first drops fall, both your braking ability and your field of vision are significantly compromised, and you’ll wish you were anywhere other than on your bike.
That’s why you should always check the forecast first, before you pull out of the garage. If you find yourself caught unexpectedly in the rain, pull over until the deluge diminishes and the water has had a chance to wash some of that slippery oil off the asphalt.
Talk with Experienced Los Angeles & Bakersfield Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured in a California motorcycle accident, we want to help. Contact the Los Angeles and Bakersfield motorcycle accident lawyers in the Law Offices of Mickey Fine for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
Get started: call, text, or use our online form right away.