Most people don’t understand what it’s like to straddle a bike, grip the handles, and feel the wind in your face. But for those of us that do, there are few things in life that mimic the freedom and excitement that comes with riding a motorcycle. Yet despite the fun that you enjoy while riding your bike, there’s always the risk of a dangerous or deadly accident.
Motorcycle Crash Statistics
While you could say motorcycles are safer than ever – annual deaths are declining every so slightly – they’re still far more dangerous than cars and other motor vehicles.
Despite making up a small percentage of vehicles on the roads, motorcycle deaths still occur 28-times more frequently than in other crashes – this according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
“Motorcyclist fatality numbers have fluctuated from year to year over the past decade, so while we are cautiously optimistic about this projection, we really need to see a sustained trend downward toward eventually eliminating motorcyclist fatalities altogether,” says Tara Casanova Powell, author of the report.
Common causes of motorcycle accidents include alcohol impairment, drug impairment, erratic driving, and distracted driving.
4 Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents
If you want to stay safe on your motorcycle, you must be proactive. Here are a few helpful tips to prevent accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
1. Wear the Proper Safety Gear
The proper safety gear will go a long way towards protecting you in the unfortunate instance that you are involved in an accident. And, without a doubt, the helmet is the most important piece of gear.
According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, approved helmets must weigh at least three pounds, have a sturdy chinstrap, and include a one-inch thick inner liner.
“Though a motorcycle helmet will protect you against injury, it cannot protect you from all injuries,” Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. points out. “No matter what your injuries you should go and see a doctor if you have been in a motorcycle accident. Some injuries like serious life threatening internal injuries may be hard to diagnose especially if you had a hard crash but walked away with only scratches and abrasions.”
Safety gear is only designed to minimize injuries. The best strategy is to avoid accidents in the first place. If you can do that, you’ll significantly reduce your chances of injury.
2. Be Mindful of Intersections
Contrary to popular belief, you’re far more likely to be involved in an accident on a city street than a highway or interstate. And of all the problem areas, intersections pose the greatest risk.
At intersections, be aware of cars turning left in front of you. They may not see you, or they could judge your speed incorrectly and attempt to make a quick turn. Either way, a collision like this could prove to be fatal.
The best way to avoid accidents like these is to remain aware. Keep your eyes on cars waiting in turn lanes – specifically at their wheels. Having an escape route in your mind will ensure you have somewhere to go if the vehicle does pull out in front of you.
3. Avoid Blind Zones
Remember: Drivers are looking for large cars and trucks – not small bikes. It’s easy for you to disappear. This is why you must always avoid blind spots and door zones (when driving on city streets). Make yourself as visible as possible!
4. Absolutely No Booze
It doesn’t matter what the legal limit is or how much alcohol you think you can consume without any ill effects – you should never consume any booze before riding.
“Riders with more than one beer in their systems are about 40 times as likely to crash as sober riders,” motorcyclist Jim Ouellet writes. “And a drinker’s favorite way to crash is by running off the road, which has a higher fatality rate than any motorcycle-car crash except head-ons because there are so many rigid fixed objects waiting to, uh, welcome you. Trees, fire hydrants, parked cars, culverts, the list goes on and on.”
Putting it All Together
Motorcycles will always be more dangerous than cars, trucks, and other larger motor vehicles. This is simply a result of size, physics, and the absence of certain protective elements (like seat belts and steel frames). But by following some of the aforementioned tips and tricks, you can significantly reduce your risk of injury and stay safer.