Going for a motorcycle ride on a beautiful spring day is an invigorating way to enjoy the warmer weather. Anyone who owns a motorcycle will tell you about the feelings of freedom they experience when they are fully immersed in the ride. Luckily, most riders also make motorcycle safety a top priority.
As the nicer weather beckons you toward more regular rides, take a moment to brush up on your knowledge of basic safety precautions. Our personal injury attorneys are all too aware of the serious dangers that accompany motorcycle riding, and we want you to enjoy your bike and continue to ride for many years to come.
Motorcycle Licenses and Training Courses
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle crash fatalities occurred 27 times more often than fatalities in other vehicles. This harrowing statistic brings a dose of reality to the carefree experience motorcycle rides can bring. Thankfully, anyone who operates a motorcycle in Pennsylvania must acquire a motorcycle license by passing a written test and on-cycle skills test. It is important to have proper training, and most experts recommend that all riders take a professional training course.
Most training centers offer classes for beginner riders and for more experienced riders wishing to brush up on their skills. The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program offers free classes to Pennsylvania residents with a motorcycle learner’s permit or license. You can also call the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at (800) 446-9227 to find the training course nearest you.
Wear the Right Protective Gear for Optimal Motorcycle Safety
According to NHTSA, motorcycle helmets saved 1,630 lives in 2013, and could have saved over 700 more if riders had worn proper helmets. In Pennsylvania the helmet law requires anyone younger than 21 to wear a US Department of Transportation-approved helmet. In addition, a rider with less than 2 years of experience must wear a helmet unless they have taken a PennDOT or Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved safety course. Of course the Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends wearing a helmet every time you ride, no matter what the laws of your state require.
Helmets approved by the USDOT will have a DOT sticker centered on the back of the helmet. They will also have a label with the following information:
- Manufacturers name and/or ID
- Precise model designation
- Month and year it was manufactured
In addition to wearing a helmet, protective eye gear will keep your eyes safer from wind, bugs, rocks, and any flying debris. Ideally your eye gear should be shatterproof. Protective clothing is another essential tool riders use to keep themselves safer and more comfortable. The right clothing will protect you from weather, debris, hot and moving parts of your bike, and can make you more visible to other drivers. Protective clothing includes:
- Complete covering on arms and legs with a sturdy material such as leather
- A proper fit that avoids catching or flapping but allows freedom of movement
- Sturdy boots or shoes that cover the ankles and provide support and traction
- Durable gloves to protect your hands and provide grip control
- Proper gear for inclement weather including a warm coat and raingear
Speed Limits and Alcohol Consumption
According to NHTSA, speeding was a factor in 34% of fatal crashes in 2013. Adhering to basic speed limits is common sense when operating any vehicle and could mean the difference between life and death. Often speeding and alcohol use are dual factors in crashes, and drinking and riding is never a good idea. In 2013, more than 28% of motorcycle crashes involved a driver who was alcohol impaired.
Avoid Road Hazards on Your Motorcycle
Motorcyclists are more exposed to the conditions of the road than drivers of other vehicles. Features like small bumps, gravel, or potholes, which present a minor annoyance to other drivers, can be life threatening to motorcyclists. Other hazards include:
- Edge breaks, when two lanes are slightly different heights;
- Uneven road surfaces like expansion joints that connect two sections of road or a road and a bridge;
- Animals unexpectedly running out into the road can cause a motorcycle to skid or lose balance completely. Hitting a deer or other large animal can be disastrous; and
- Road debris or flying objects ejected from other vehicles
Of course, weather is an important factor whenever you head out for a ride. Roads are especially slippery up to 30 minutes after rainfall, and the obstacles mentioned above are even more dangerous for a motorcycle when wet. Keep an eye out for puddles, oily surfaces, manholes, and even painted surfaces, which will all be more hazardous after rainfall.
Maintain Your Bike
Anytime you head out for a ride, check tire pressure, tread, and fluid levels. Ensure your brakes are working properly and pay attention for any potential leaks. Make sure your lights and turn signals are functioning. If you plan on carrying a passenger, you should have an extra helmet and inform your passenger of basic precautions.
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers for Your Motorcycle Accident
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own, now is the time to seek the advice of the experts at Donaghue & Labrum. We will study your case and guide you through the legal process. As the innocent victim of an accident, you should not feel isolated. Donaghue & Labrum can ive you the peace of mind you need right now. Call us for a free consultation today at one of our Media or West Chester offices.