Millions of motorists traverse the country’s roadways when the weather allows. An increasing number of those motorists are seeing the sights while riding motorcycles.
Riding a motorcycle can be an awe-inspiring experience much different from riding inside a car or truck. According to the motorcycle information resource Biker Report, 1.5 million Americans owned a motorcycle in 2018. Even though motorcycle accidents have declined in recent years, a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization representing state highway safety offices, indicates that, when adjusting for miles traveled, motorcycle fatalities occur 28 times more frequently than fatalities involving passenger vehicles. Alcohol and drug impairment, distraction and an aging motorcycle population have contributed to the elevated accident risk among motorcycle riders. However, inexperience also plays a role.
By adhering to certain safety measures, novice riders can avoid various risks and stay safe as they get more acclimated to their motorcycles.
• Get your license. It is essential to ride with a license. In the United States, riders are required to have a motorcycle license or endorsement in addition to a driver’s license to legally ride a motorcycle. Depending on where riders live, a motorcycle safety course may be a prerequisite to getting a license and can help riders improve their skills on a motorcycle.
• Enroll in a safety course. A safety course can teach riders various strategies, including emergency evasive maneuvers. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers courses for riders, who can check to see if any such courses are available in their areas.
• Wear a helmet. Many states require motorcycle operators and riders to wear helmets when bikes are in operation. Helmets are required by law in Canada across all provinces and territories. The U.S. Department of Transportation also recommends a full-face helmet as an added safety option for novice motorcycle riders. Biker Report states that a helmet can reduce risks of brain injuries from a motorcycle accident by up to 67 percent.
• Wear protective clothing. In addition to helmets, jackets and other protective gear can reduce the risk of injury for riders involved in crashes. A 2011 study published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention determined there was a significantly reduced risk of injury to the upper body when riders wore fitted body armor.
• Practice in a closed environment. It is essential that motorcycle riders grow accustomed to riding the bike they will be taking out on the road. Doing so in a parking lot or a closed course enables riders to get a better feel for the throttle grip and brakes and steering. Riders can gradually increase their time on the motorcycle and skip long distance trips until they feel comfortable on their bikes.
In addition to these tips, novice riders are urged to be as visible as possible while on the road. Bright or reflective items can make motorcycle riders stand out. With these safety measures in place, novice motorcycle riders can reduce their risk for accidents and injuries while on the road.