There’s nothing better than suiting up, pulling on your helmet, and swinging your leg over the bike for some weekend fun. The rush of the wind as you cruise down the road. The sense of freedom. It all creates a wonderful experience you want to repeat. However, accident conditions can appear out of nowhere and you only have a fraction of a second to react.
We don’t want you to stop having fun on your bike, especially when there are things you can do to help keep you as safe as possible while riding. Your bike is equipped and designed to help you keep you safe on the road, but it’s important that you have the skills to keep yourself safe. We will go over the common causes of motorcycle accidents, what kind of safety gear you can get to protect yourself, and the top tips for avoiding a motorcycle accident in the first place.
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Common Motorcycle Accident Causes
Riding motorcycles can be an exhilarating experience but it’s not without its risks. Being able to prevent a motorcycle accident is one of the most important things you should focus on as a rider. A rider of any skill level, beginner or advanced, should know the common causes of motorcycle accidents and be prepared should they find themselves in a similar situation. Below we’ve compiled a list of the common causes of motorcycle accidents and why they happen.
A Car Turns Left In Front Of You
Drivers are trained to look for cars, not motorcycles. Worse, motorcycles easily fit into a driver’s blind spot. Thus, it is not uncommon for a car to turn left right in front of you. Always assume cars cannot see you.
You Hit Gravel In A Blind Corner
We all love the thrill of whipping around a corner but it can turn into a disaster real quick. The unknown surprises on the other side of the corner can cause you to lose control, often by overreacting to what’s there. If you’re coming up to a corner, it’s best to slow down and take a peek before you resume your normal speed.
You Entered A Corner Too Fast
First, there’s the blind corner where you do not know what’s around it. Then there’s the corner where you come around too fast. Before you know it, your wheels are peeling out from under you and you are sliding sideways. It is always best to reduce that speed as you come around the corner.
A Car Changes Lane Into You
We repeat: Drivers cannot see you. Unlike motorcycles, where you have an unrestricted field of view, cars are loaded with blind spots. Thus, it is imperative that you expect drivers around you to make dumb moves. Pay special attention to two things: their signal lights and their wheels. Not everyone uses their signal lights when changing lanes but everyone has to use their wheels. The car wheels will tell you the direction the vehicle is headed.
A Car Hits You From Behind
Has it set in yet that cars aren’t trained to see you? Yeah, we know it’s sad that they don’t see you even when you’re right in front. It’s a sad reality of being a rider. Motorcycles are significantly smaller than most vehicles on the road, they don’t have as big or as bright brake lights, and they are much less noticeable even when stopped. So it’s best just to avoid this situation altogether by pulling ahead to the left of the car in front of you, remember to give them a friendly wave. If there’s no car in front of you, pull off to one side of the lane and flash your brake lights rapidly to make yourself more noticeable.
Your Riding Buddies Are Idiots
It’s fun to connect with other riders and go adventurous rides but if your buddies don’t know what they’re doing, it can turn into a disastrous ride real quick. Make sure your buddies know how to ride in proper formation or, better yet, ride alone.
You Locked The Front Brake
There’s always the momentum of distraction where you suddenly pull hard on that brake. It could have been the car jumping lanes in front of you or a puppy dashing into the road. Before you know it, you’re lying flat on the ground watching your motorcycle do somersaults down the road. The front brake is the most powerful and difficult-to-master component on your bike so make sure you take the time to learn how to use it properly and in balance with your rear brake.
A Car Opened Its Door
If you’re riding between moving traffic and parked cars, don’t. Bicyclists call this the deadman zone for a reason. Not only are random car doors opening a risk but so are pedestrians who step out at random intervals and locations. Just avoid this area. Don’t. Ride. In. It.
Slippery When Wet
It’s great when we’re out riding in the perfect weather with the sun shining and the roads dry and smooth. However, the weather does not always comply with your riding desires and when those droplets fall, it can cause you some serious trouble. Here, it’s always best to reduce your speed and be more alert.
According to the 1981 Hurt Report, the largest study ever conducted on motorcycle accident causation, alcohol is a factor in 50% of all motorcycle accidents. That’s half of all motorcycle accidents. Alcohol and operating any vehicle DO NOT MIX especially not a motorcycle. So don’t drink and ride.
Motorcycle Safety Gear
Knowing the common causes of motorcycle accidents is a first step to helping you ride better and safe, but there’s a lot that can be done just by focusing on what you wear when you ride. In a car, you’re well protected against whatever harm might befall should an accident occur. On a bike, you are overly exposed. It is critical to make sure you take the appropriate protection while riding. It might not always be convenient or stylish, but it will help you should something go wrong on your next ride.
Memorize the acronym: All The Gear, All The Time (ATGATT). On the short ride to the grocery store, it might not seem necessary to gear up but you’re more likely to experience an accident closer to home than you are on a long ride so it’s best to suit up everyone time you go out.
It might seem like a no-brainer but a helmet is a must. Your brain is your most valuable part of your body and you need to make sure you protect. There are a lot of styles and variety out there but your best option will be a helmet that covers all sides of your head and face. There are plenty of manufacturers that make high-quality helmets but they all fit a little differently so it’s best to try them on and see how they fit before you purchase.
A jacket might seem like overkill when it’s not cold or raining out but it’s definitely a must-have. In the event that you come flying off your bike in a motorcycle accident, a jacket will offer your upper body the necessary protection as you skid along the road. And don’t make it any ordinary jacket, make sure it’s one for riding motorcycles. These jackets are made with added padding for protection as well as ventilation so you don’t overheat when it’s a sunny warm day.
Just like the jacket, pants are equally important because they will protect your lower body. And, again, you don’t want to be wearing your typical pair of jeans when riding. You want to be wearing a pair of motorcycle pants, like the jacket, that has extra padding and ventilation. It might not be as nice as your khaki pants or jeans but you’ll be better protected. You can also buy matching sets of jacket and pants so you still look stylish.
If you’re looking for one piece of clothing to wear while riding instead of two, then a suit might be the option for you. Like the jacket and pant combination, a motorcycle suit is designed with extra padding and ventilation to make you safe and comfortable while you ride. Designed to fit over your ordinary clothing, you can slip it on before and after you hop on the bike.
You might think any pair of shoes will do when you’re out riding, but a common occurrence during a motorcycle accident is the bike will end up on top of one of your legs. Riding shoes are designed to offer extra support so that your leg and foot is not crushed under the weight of the bike.
Gloves will give you added protection from the elements, but in the event of a motorcycle accident they protect the skin on your hands. Make sure they’re gloves made for motorcycle riding because those will have added padding and ventilation. Also, they’ll give you a better grip and control while riding.
If you’re looking for some additional protection, you can also purchase body armor. This will add another layer to help protect your body, particularly your vital organs, in the event of a motorcycle accident.
Elbow, Shin, and Knee Guards
Body armor is usually focused on protecting the upper body. To protect your extremities, consider elbow, shin, and knee guards.
If you’re wearing a helmet that fully covers your head, get goggles or a visor that covers your face. Most sunglasses and eyeglass are not impact-resistant.
As you’re riding, your ears will hear a lot of noise. Not just the traffic itself but the rushing of the wind and the roaring sound of the tires on the road. This can be especially fatiguing for longer rides. To combat this, you can purchase a standard pair of disposable ear plugs to help reduce the noise you hear. You’ll still be able to hear and know of what’s going on around you, but it will mitigate the long-term effects of noise exposure.
10 Tips To Avoid A Motorcycle Accident
1. Being Aware Of Your Surroundings
On a bike, you’ve got a lot more visibility than you would in a car. Take advantage of that. That means you’re looking around you and being mindful of what is happening. Assume cars cannot you and ride accordingly. This might mean you have to take some evasive action should a car enter your riding space.
2. Complete A Motorcycle Safety Course
Regardless of your skill level, you should take a motorcycle safety course. This will give you the opportunity to learn and practice the skills you need to be safe when you’re out riding.
3. Behave As If No Car Can See You
Even if you are in their field of vision, drivers are trained to look for cars not motorcycles. Assume they can NOT see you and be prepared for anything.
4. Pay Attention To The Wheels Of Other Cars
Wheels point where a car is going more accurately than turn signals. Get into the habit of looking at the car’s wheels to know what direction they plan to go. If that direction is in your riding space, be prepared to take action.
5. Watch Out For Any Obstructions In The Road
It’s inevitable that something that doesn’t belong will cross your path while you’re out riding. The best thing you can do is to be aware of what’s going on around and in front of you. Train yourself to know how to use all the components of your bike so that you can ready to take the appropriate action.
6. Check Your Mirrors Often
Just as it’s important to know what is happening in front of you, it’s also important to know what’s happening behind you. Make it habit to regularly check your mirrors for what’s coming up behind you. If there’s a fast-moving car, best to get out of its way.
7. Maintain Your Motorcycle
Your motorcycle is a wonderful machine but like all machines, it needs to be well-maintained. Make sure you keep your bike clean and take it in for regular maintenance. If it makes any strange noises or isn’t functioning properly, take it to the mechanic right away.
8. Practice Braking
Being able to stop effectively and efficiently is one of the most important things you can train yourself to do. Best thing to do is to find an empty parking lot and practice getting up to speed and slowing down. Start at 30 miles per hour and once you decrease your stopping distance, then increase your speed.
9. Follow Any Speed Limits
Riding a bike brings with it a certain sense of freedom and it can be tempting to go fast but the faster you go the more energy it will take to stop. Aside from running the risk of getting a speeding ticket, it’s best practice to follow all posted speed limits. This will help reduce your risk of getting into a motorcycle accident.
10. Don’t Drink And Ride
Alcohol impairs your ability to react and think clearly so don’t drink and ride. Even if you’ve only had ONE drink, leave the bike and pick it up in the morning. It’s better to miss a night of riding than to never to ride again.
Riding a motorcycle can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. There are plenty of steps you can take to prevent the accident and protect yourself in the event of an accident. Riding is a skill that needs to be continually practiced and always focused on improving. Wear the right gear (ATGATT). And always be aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t assume that the cars can see you; assume they can’t. Keep these helpful tips in mind as you prepare for your next ride. Safe riding!