Riding a motorcycle is incredibly fun, but it can also be quite dangerous. Unlike passenger car drivers, motorcycle riders have nothing to protect them but helmets and safety gear, so when accidents occur, they tend to be serious.
While getting on a motorcycle and hitting the open road will always come with a little risk since there’s no way to control how other riders and drivers behave, there are ways that motorcyclists can reduce their chances of getting into accidents. Read on to find some safety tips that will help.
1. Ride Defensively
The most common type of motorcycle crash is a left-turn accident. Nicoletti Law Firm handles a lot of cases that occur after motorcyclists are hit by drivers making left turns. While not all of them can be avoided, defensive riding can make a difference.
Pay attention to what drivers are doing. If there’s a car waiting at an intersection to turn, assume the driver won’t notice an oncoming motorcycle unless he or she makes eye contact. If there’s a gap in traffic or a driver pulling onto the road who looks a little too anxious to make a turn, those are also signs that it’s time to slow down, get in the other lane if possible, and be prepared to take evasive maneuvers.
2. Stay Out of Blind Spots
Lane-switching accidents are almost as common as left-turn crashes. They occur primarily when riders are in drivers’ blind spots when cars switch lanes. As with avoiding left-turn crashes, it’s important to drive defensively and pay attention to what drivers are doing since they are less likely to see motorcycles, even when they are in clear view. Look for signs that a driver is about to make a lane change, such as:
- Using turn signals
- Checking mirrors
- Swiveling the head to check blind spots
- Turning the wheels
It’s also very important to stay out of blind spots by speeding up or slowing down. The best way for a rider to tell if he or she is in a driver’s blind spot is to take a look at the mirrors and check to see if the driver’s face is visible. If a rider can make eye contact with a driver, the driver should also be able to see the motorcycle.
3. Follow the Four Rs
Head-on collisions are less common than the two types of accidents described above, but they’re also more likely to be fatal. The National Safety Council (NSC) sets forth guidelines for motorcyclists about how to avoid head-on collisions. They recommend following the four Rs. Motorcyclists should always:
- Read the road
- Drive on the Right side
- Reduce speed
- Ride off the road when an accident seems imminent
Reading the road refers to paying attention to what other drivers are doing. Driving on the right side is obvious, and doing so makes it easier to merge onto the shoulder to the right to avoid head-on collisions. Reducing speed means slowing down as soon as a car starts swerving or a driver stops paying attention, which is important because even a 10 MPH difference can be life-saving.
What to Do After a Crash
Even the most careful motorcyclists can still get into accidents if the drivers around them aren’t paying attention, so it’s wise to have a plan in place for what to do following an accident. Plan to seek medical care immediately, file a police report, gather evidence at the scene and hire a lawyer as soon as possible to help with building a case against the responsible driver.