We’ve all read the frightening statistics about motorcycles:
- Riders are 27 times more likely to die in a crash than people in cars
- Motorcyclist deaths began to increase in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008
- 13 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in 2015 involved motorcyclist deaths
But what are we doing to change them?
It’s easy to forget that motorcyclist deaths were declining through the 1980s before they began increasing in 1998. Something changed—and not for the better.
Safety is of the utmost importance when you hit the road in any vehicle, but especially when you’re on a motorcycle. Here are our top 5 tips to keep you safe the next time you ride:
Wear a Helmet
As more states make helmets mandatory, the percentage of fatal accidents in which a rider is wearing a helmet is rising. But in states where helmets aren’t mandatory, the difference in fatality rates is still substantial.
59 percent of the motorcyclists killed in states without all-rider helmet laws in 2013 were not wearing helmets. In states with all-rider helmet laws, that statistic is down to only 8 percent, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The risk of head injury decreases by 69% and the risk of death decreases by 42% if motorcyclists wear helmets.
It is estimated that motorcycle helmets currently prevent $17 billion in societal harm annually. That number would increase to $25 billion if all motorcyclists wore helmets.
Buy Antilock Brakes
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that motorcycles with antilock brakes (ABS) were 31 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
“Braking too hard and locking a wheel creates an unstable situation,” the IIHS report states. ABS keeps riders in control of their bikes in case of an emergency stop or slippery conditions.
Some bikes come with ABS, but it may cost extra for others. Either way, it is worth having if it means saving your life.
Motorcyclists almost always share the road with cars, semis, and other large motor vehicles. It’s important to drive defensively to ensure your own safety.
People in cars typically have more available to distract them: phones, radios, GPS directions, passengers, etc. Be extra alert in case they start to drive recklessly.
Driving defensively means keeping a safe distance from other vehicles to ensure enough time to stop or react to any hazards that might appear in front of you. It also means avoiding making sudden maneuvers if the traffic around you cannot anticipate your moves (e.g. changing lanes too close to another vehicle).
Take the Weather into Account
We’re not saying don’t ride any time there’s a slight drizzle, but it’s important to avoid severe weather if you can. Bad weather leads to slippery roads that make it easier for you to slide out. Strong winds will affect you more than they will affect larger vehicles on the road.
If you do decide to ride in bad weather, you may have to ride more cautiously, so plan out enough time for your journey so you don’t feel tempted to rush.
Keep Your Bike in Good Condition
Make sure your motorcycle is safe to ride before every trip. Don’t cut corners with upkeep or maintenance. It’s important to make sure your brakes, tires, and other parts of your motorcycle are in top condition so they don’t create problems for you on the road.
If you’re having problems with your bike, make sure to have it looked at and/or fixed as soon as possible.