Being a motorcycle owner is a great feeling and puts you in some pretty awesome company, especially here in Wisconsin. Of course motorcycle riding comes with some added responsibilities and risks. Having the proper course training and understanding can literally be a lifesaver for motorcyclists.
While motorcycles make up no more than 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists account for 13% of total traffic deaths. Contrary to the image of the risk taking, thrill rider, in general, most cyclist are extremely careful, considerate and alert drivers. After all, in an accident with a car, cyclists are far more likely to be injured because they don’t have the added protection of airbags, bumpers and encompassing steel frame.
Research conducted by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in all motorcycle accidents occurring between motorcyclists and cars, the motorcyclist was either not at fault or less at fault than the other driver 80 percent of the time. In those accidents where the car is at fault, more than 80 percent of those accidents are the result of the car turning into the motorcyclist path.
Here are a few items to consider before taking to the road on a motorcycle:
Motorcycle Course For New Riders
Before you purchase your bike or take to the road, get in some hours with a registered motorcycle safety course. From a financial standpoint, passing a course may get you a discount on your insurance premium as well. There are lots of courses available and most motorcycle dealers will be glad to help you find one locally.
What Bike Is Good For You
Besides reviewing the motorcycle basics, a course can also help you decide what type of bike is best for you. If you’re planning on doing long road trips, a touring bike may be what you need. If you just want a bike for local commutes a modest-sized motorcycle may be better for you. Also think about starting with a used bike to be sure you like riding and because it’s likely you’ll have a minor spill or two as you learn.
Outside of riding a course, what you wear can greatly increase your chances of avoiding serious injuries and accidents. Gloves, jackets with padding that still allow air flow and boots that protect ankles can help prevent serious injury if you are involved in a crash.
Although not mandatory in every state, you should consider a Department of Transportation-certified helmet as part of your safety gear. Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. One national study found that an unhelmeted motorcyclist is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury. A related study found that motorcycle helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries and that unhelmeted motorcyclists are 3 times more likely to suffer brain injuries.
Keeping your bike in good condition is something you’ll want to do. From the best sealants, waxes to a good cover, find out what is out there and what will meet your needs.
So you’ve gone through the training, got the gear and are ready for a ride. If you’re riding with a partner or group, keep everyone’s experience level in mind. Riding with others of similar experience will avoid some riders feeling as if they are being left behind or that others have to “watch over” someone.
Keep your eye on the weather. Some people are happy to ride in any weather, others are more particular. Determine what kind of rider you are and check the forecast before you head out.
Of course, make sure you have good motorcycle insurance before you head out. A standard policy is very inexpensive.
There are a number of great motorcycle resources out there for riding groups, safety tips and bike reviews such as americanmotorcyclist.com. As with any big purchase, do a little research on various bikes, courses and related materials.
For over 40 years, LeBell, Dobroski, Morgan & Meylink, LLP has offered aggressive, professional representation to motorcycle accident victims. If you or a loved one are injured in a motorcycle accident, call us for a free