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Springtime Motorcycle Safety: Tips for Riders and Drivers

Motorcycle Safety Tips Springtime

Spring is here, and with more motorcycle riders on the road, it’s time for a motorcycle safety review. Here are some tips for riders and drivers of other vehicles to share the road safely with motorcycles.

Motorcycle Riding Safely

If you are a motorcyclist, here are some ways you can stay safe on the road:

Always Wear a Helmet

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 1,859 motorcyclists were saved by helmets in 2016 alone. They say 802 more could have been saved if they had worn helmets. They also estimate that helmets reduce motorcycle crash deaths by 37%, and head injuries by 69%. Full face helmets provide even better protection for your eyes and face.

A prevalent myth among motorcyclists is that wearing a helmet increases the chance of spine injury in a motorcycle crash. Not so. A five-year study showed that helmet use significantly reduces the risk of cervical spine fractures.

Motorcycle helmet laws exist in all but three U.S. states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire). And, if you are in a motorcycle accident without a helmet, your insurance company may not cover your losses.

Loud Pipes May Not Be Safer – But High-Visibility Gear Is

Some bikers say, “loud pipes save lives” – but it may not be true. In fact, due to the Doppler Effect, the sound from exhaust pipes isn’t resonant until after the motorcycle has passed. Since most motorcycle collisions occur from the front of the bike, the loud pipes aren’t helping much, if at all.

What they might be doing, though, is giving you hearing loss, and slowing down your reaction time. Additionally, some states have outlawed modifying motorcycle exhaust systems to increase their volume.

If you really want to be sure other drivers notice you, consider adding auxiliary lights, or wearing high-visibility, reflective clothing.

Safety training motorcycle

Take a Motorcycle Safety Course, If You Haven’t Done So Recently

In many states, including California, those younger than 18 must pass a motorcycle training course to obtain a motorcycle license. Laws very from state to state. But even if you’re an experienced rider, it’s still helpful stay up-to-date on motorcycle safety standards.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers courses nationwide, including online-only courses. Taking a safety course may also qualify you for discounts on your motorcycle insurance.

Observe Lane-Splitting Laws and Safety Guidelines in Your State

The practice of lane-splitting, or driving a motorcycle between traffic lanes, is legal and widely accepted in many countries. However, the lane-splitting is illegal in every U.S. state – except California.

Lane-splitting has been legal in California since January 2017. Click To Tweet

For California motorcyclists, the California Highway Patrol offers these safety tips for lane-splitting. They caution that it can be dangerous, especially at higher speeds. Riders should exercise extreme caution, considering road, weather, lighting and traffic conditions.

Driving for Motorcycle Safety

Many car drivers have a perception of motorcycle riders as daredevils and risk-takers, but nothing could be further from the truth. According to a landmark study known as the “Hurt Report,” passenger vehicles caused two-thirds of accidents they had with motorcyclists.

Sensible guidelines for sharing the road can make a major difference in decreasing motorcycle fatalities.

Don’t Violate a Motorcycle’s Right-of-Way

According to an NHTSA study, drivers turning left in front of motorcycles caused 41% of fatal crashes with other motor vehicles. These accidents occur either because the driver doesn’t see the motorcycle, or miscalculates how fast the motorcycle is traveling.

Don’t be misled by a motorcycle’s size. They travel as fast as, if not faster than cars. Whenever making a left turn, don’t proceed until you’ve scanned all oncoming lanes and are sure it’s safe.

Don’t Impede Motorcycles in the Carpool Lane

Motorcycles are permitted in carpool lanes, even with only one passenger, by federal law. The U.S. Department of Transportation acknowledges that it is safer for motorcycles to keep moving in stop and go traffic. It’s important to know that a motorcycle is safer in the HOV lane, and has every right to be there.

Watch Out for Lane Splitters

Many drivers are irritated when they see motorcyclists driving between lanes. However, if you’re in California, lane-splitting by motorcyclists is completely legal. Even outside of California, motorcycle riders still do it.

And there is data to show that it might be safer in stop and start conditions. When in traffic, keep an eye on your side view mirrors and check for motorcycles before merging.

Share the Road

Safety Guidelines for Everyone on the Road

Whether you are driving a car or riding a motorcycle, some safety tips are universal:

  • Don’t drive under the influence. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 25% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved alcohol.
  • Don’t drive distracted. According to the NHTSA, the risk of a crash is 3.6 times greater when a driver is texting.
  • Never ride or drive when fatigued. Remain alert, anticipating possible movements by other motorists.
  • Check side-view mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or turning, and when you hear a motorcycle.
  • Always use your turn signal before changing lanes, turning, or merging with traffic.
  • Be conscious of the speed limit.
  • Don’t tailgate; increase your following distance to give yourself time to react.
  • Be courteous and share the road.

{torklocal] attorneys are motorcycle accident experts. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, call us for a free consultation. We may be able to help you recover significant damages, so you can get back on the road.