In 2016, motorcycle fatalities occurred 28 times more frequently than passenger vehicle fatalities in motor vehicle crashes when accounting for vehicle miles traveled. Murphy & Pressentin fights for those who have been injured or killed in motorcycle crashes. Below are 8 tips that can help you avoid future motorcycle disasters.
THE TOP 8 MOTORCYCLE DRIVING TIPS
Motorcycle riders are at higher risk than other vehicles because bikes are smaller, less visible and less stable than four-wheeled vehicles. Motorcycles have fewer barriers to prevent injuries compared to automobiles, which have seat-belts, air bags, door and roof beams, and windshields. Although motorcycle riders are only 2% of all vehicles on the road, they account for 5% of all fatalities.
Motorcycles do offer some safety advantages as they are more agile, can turn quickly to avoid hazards and obstacles, and they have a much shorter stopping distance. The key to defensive driving of motorcycles then, is to maximize the safety advantages and compensate for the increased exposure risk.
These 8 motorcycle driving tips are essential to becoming a safe motorcycle driver. Defensive driving is defined as “driving to save time, lives and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”
While every situation is different and will require its own specific course of action, there are 8 very basic motorcycle driving tips that should be followed while you ride.
1. INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY, BUT ASSUME YOU’RE INVISIBLE
Use daytime lights, bright colors and lots of chrome to increase visibility. Beeping your horn at the first sign of danger is very important to help others see you. The angle view of cars and bigger vehicles is not good for smaller targets like motorcycles or bikes.
Use lane choice (left, center or right thirds of a lane) to increase your visibility to other traffic, depending on the circumstances. Avoid overtaking on the right, as circumstances arise where vehicles try to merge from the right thinking the lane is open because it looks empty at a glance. Avoid blind spots – never ride in another driver’s blind spot alongside the rear of a vehicle.
Be vigilant at all times and assume that you are invisible! Look at all driveways and intersections and be prepared to take evasive action if someone doesn’t see you.
2. HAVE AN ESCAPE PLAN
In order to be one of the safest riders on the road, drivers should have an escape plan. This is a skill that is learned over time. While you may be a great rider, it’s hard to predict what other drivers around you may do. There are also factors beyond your control that can change a routine driving situation into a driving emergency quickly. For example, an animal may run into the road forcing the driver ahead to slam on their brakes. What will you do? Where will you go? The best way to avoid potential danger is to position your motorcycle where you have an alternate escape plan at all times.
Unfortunately, you share the road with drivers who don’t take driving safely seriously. That’s why you should leave yourself an out in case the worst happens. Having an escape plan is crucial to your safety.
Having an escape plan requires that you establish and maintain a buffer around your motorcycle. If someone pulls up alongside you and matches their speed to yours, either speed up or slow down so that the lane next to you is clear. That way, if you need to swerve, you have somewhere to go. Likewise, maintain a safe following distance so swerving won’t even be necessary. Additionally, beware of tailgaters. Control the situation by slowing down and allowing the tailgater to pass. By establishing and maintaining a buffer zone in front, behind, and to the side, gives you options and more than one escape route.
3. BE COMPETENT AT BRAKING, CORNERING AND CURVES
Be sure that you are competent at accelerating, braking and cornering through curves as these are the trickiest maneuvers and require the most experience. In single vehicle accidents, motorcycle driver error is the precipitating factor in two-thirds of the crashes. The typical error is a slide-out and fall due to excess speed and running wide on a curve, over-braking or under-cornering.
4. USE CARS AS SHIELDS AT INTERSECTIONS
To help prevent accidents at intersections, use cars as shields by passing through intersections alongside cars and other vehicles.
5. STAY IN THE SAFEST LANE
When riding on multi-lane divided interstate highways, the safest lane is the far left lane (if there’s a shoulder). The far right lane is subject to vehicles constantly merging onto the highway and other vehicles exiting. With a shoulder, the far left lane gives the motorcyclist an escape route and subjects the driver to vehicles on three sides, not four. Middle lanes may be safer if there is no left lane shoulder, as they offer multiple escape routes. However, middle lanes also carry the risk of twice as many vehicles that may potentially merge into the motorcyclist’s lane. When passing alongside cars to your right, pass them quickly to minimize the window of opportunity for an abrupt lane-changing vehicle to collide with your motorcycle. Try to ride alongside car gaps in the next lane or, if necessary, alongside the driver’s front left quarter panel where you will be clearly visible. Also, pay attention to the occasional left-hand entrance or exit to the highway as cars may merge from that direction as well.
6. AVOID LANE SHARING WITH OTHER MOTORCYCLES
When riding with other motorcycles, avoid lane sharing. If one of two riders must swerve to avoid something like a pothole, animal, or another vehicle, a neighboring motorcycle will endanger both cycles as it will occupy the safety zone. A swerve becomes impossible and you will either wreck or turn into the rider next to you, likely resulting in a crash. A staggered formation is best as it creates a safety zone for evasive maneuvers by each motorcycle and creates a larger visual for drivers to see. Only when coming to a stop at a light or sign should riders be parallel.
7. MAINTAIN YOUR MACHINE PROPERLY
Ensure that your motorcycle is mechanically fit and safe to ride. Check for proper tire inflation and that brakes, engine chain/belt, suspension, lights and oil/fluids are in working order.
8. WEAR PROPER CLOTHES AND EQUIPMENT
Goggles or glasses, boots, gloves, jeans or leather pants, and leather or a denim jacket will protect your bare skin from coming in direct contact with the pavement in the event of a crash. While helmet laws have their proponents and critics, helmets have certainly saved lives in many circumstances. Clothes with protection for knees, elbows and shoulders are important as they decrease the odds of broken bones and tendons at these points.
When you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it’s important that you know your rights and responsibilities to help bring justice for your suffering and compensation to your pain. The team of personal injury professionals at Murphy & Pressentin can help you recover monetary compensation for the losses to you and your family.