From time to time, in general conversation with people, the discussion gets into motorcycles, and someone usually has some horror story to tell about a family member or friend that was killed or seriously injured on a motorcycle. Those stories always remind me of how important it is to pay attention to all the safety issues involved with riding a motorcycle.
When I hear or read of a motorcycle involved in an accident, I’m always interested in learning of the details of the accident. To me, it seems that over 90 percent of the accidents could have been avoided if the rider was following proper safety principles while riding, even if the accident was caused by the automobile.
I don’t claim to know everything there is about motorcycle safety, or see myself as an expert, but I do try to read up on everything I can, and to keep myself alert of my riding environment.
The following items are things that I have learned over the years and try to follow. They are not in any particular order of importance:
- Always wear a DOT approved helmet, even if it is to the store that is only a block away. Statistics show that most motorcycle accidents happen within two miles of home.
- Take a motorcycle safety course and have a valid motorcycle license. Another interesting statistic indicates that the majority of motorcycle accidents are with non-licensed riders or inexperienced ones.
- Always be alert of your surroundings. Pay attention to driveways, left turn lanes, merging traffic.
- Always assume that the automobiles don’t see you and will turn left in front of you, or pull out from a driveway, or merge into your lane.
- Keep a safe distance behind the car in front of you, judging how much distance you will need to stop if the car stops abruptly.
- Don’t allow cars to tailgate you too close. Rather than getting upset, just move over and let them pass.
- When traveling on the freeway, use the far left lane. It is the safest lane for a motorcyclist. There is no traffic on your left and you only have to worry about the traffic on your right.
- Take curves and corners slow. Always assume that there is oil, gravel or dirt that you could hit and slide on.
- If you can, try not to travel at night, you are more difficult to be seen, and the wildlife like to jump out in front of you.
This list is not all inclusive, but probably lists the more important points. I have found one of the best books I have read on motorcycle safety is “Proficient Motorcycling, The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well,” by David L. Hough as pictured above.