Motorcycles are exhilarating. Hopping on a bike and cruising down the road is one of the quickest ways to feel powerful and in charge. If you’ve never ridden before, it is easy to let the power go to your head and let your inexperience show. A seasoned rider knows that one of the most important things to remember about riding a motorcycle is safety. It’s not about how fast you go or how many maneuvers you can pull off. It’s all about getting where you are going in one piece.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), close to half of all motorcycle fatalities occur in single-vehicle crashes. That means that the most dangerous vehicles on the road are not other cars and the most dangerous people are not other drivers. The person a motorcycle operator needs to worry about the most is themselves.
On that note, there are things that a beginning driver can do to help ensure their own safety. Keep the following tips in mind as you begin your journey on two wheels.
One of the biggest mistakes a new rider can make is choosing a bike that they can’t handle. When looking for a motorcycle, first look for one that fits you physically. You should be able to sit on the seat with both of your feet flat on the ground. The handlebars and all controls should be within easy reach. You shouldn’t have to stand on your tiptoes or stretch to reach anything. If the bike feels too big and heavy when you are testing it out, it probably is.
You may think that you don’t need a bike with antilock brakes, but they are proven to be a lifesaver. Drivers operating motorcycles with antilock brakes were 37 percent less likely to be in a fatal crash than those without the brakes. The reason behind this is that inexperienced drivers tend to lock up the brakes in an emergency. This locking can cause the bike to skid dangerously and cause a loss of steering control. Most bikes come standard with this safety feature, but antilock brakes can typically be added for just a few hundred dollars when not standard.
You may or may not have to take a motorcycle safety course to obtain your license depending on where you live, but chances are that you will have to at least take a test. It doesn’t hurt to take a class, no matter what is required by law. A Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course can help you sharpen your skills. You will be taught advanced techniques as well as how to respond to emergency situations. These courses normally cost less than $400 and can save your life.
You need more than a helmet to ride a motorcycle. It can be tempting to wear shorts and a T-shirt in hot weather, but it could be a costly mistake. You will want to wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt and boots. For even more protection, consider wearing leather. If you are forced to put your bike down or get into an accident, leather will help to protect your skin more than any type of fabric can. Remember: Dress for the slide, not for the ride.
Even experienced drivers know to avoid bad weather if at all possible. What many people don’t know is that road conditions are the most dangerous immediately after precipitation begins. You are better off starting out after a storm begins than being stuck in the start of one. Always keep an eye on the weather reports before you decide to drive down the highway on two wheels. If rain or snow is being called for, seek an alternate form of transportation for the day.
Don’t make the mistake of avoiding taking a closer look at your bike. You should do this before every ride, yet many people don’t. Walk around your motorcycle, look for signs of corrosion or damage, check to make sure your tires are properly inflated, and test your brakes. These things only take minutes but they can mean the difference between getting on a dangerous bike and getting it repaired.
Riding a motorcycle is an amazing experience. Unfortunately, beginning riders may not take safety into consideration in lieu of the feeling of the open road. Use the tips above if you are planning on riding for the first time. Remember that getting where you need to go safely is more important than speed and fancy maneuvers.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in West Palm Beach, contact our office. A member of our team will help you schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost wages and more. Call today for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.