According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016. And that number isn’t dwindling. In fact, it’s double what it was in 1997. If you’ll be taking your bike on the road anytime soon, here’s what you can do to keep it safe.
Go back to school
Sure, you know how to drive a car, but if you’ll be hopping on a hog, you’ll likely need a new license to ride. Most states require either a motorcycle permit or license, or a motorcycle endorsement (on your standard license). Before you take that test (and maybe even after), you’ll want to make sure you know the rules of the road — as a motorcyclist. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles of Nevada, motorcyclists in Nevada must
- wear a helmet
- be equipped with at least one and no more than two headlights
- be equipped with electric turn signals on the front and rear
- have a red taillight that is visible for 500 feet
- have a stoplight or brake light that is visible for 300 feet in daylight
Even if you know the rules, a motorcycle safety course will teach you how to handle unpredictable situations and road conditions from the seat of your bike.
Get geared up
Those motorcycle jackets aren’t just about looking cool. Legitimate gear can actually keep you safer on the road. In case of a crash, a good leather jacket can save you from severe road rash.
While some states still don’t have motorcycle helmet laws, forgoing a good helmet is practically a death wish. Not only does a DOT-approved helmet give you the best chance of survival in a crash, it also keeps bugs out of your face and, well, just makes you look cool. To get the best protection, forgo the shorts and flip-flops. You’ll want gloves, full pants and heavy footwear.
Keep it maintained
Keeping your motorcycle properly serviced and maintained isn’t just good for your bike, it’s crucial for your safety. Consumer Reports recommends that you keep your bike properly maintained by having the brakes checked regularly, getting frequent inspections and keeping your tires properly inflated.
According to the publication, when tires are underinflated, “handling gets really hard, steering gets hard, and the bike doesn’t want to lean.” Between your scheduled maintenance appointments, inspect your bike yourself to make sure you don’t see any leaks, broken lights or chains or belts that need attention.
Think before splitting
When it comes to traffic, your motorcycle is a lifesaver. After all, everyone’s witnessed that motorcyclist zipping between traffic during the busy morning commute. Lane-splitting (riding between two cars in adjacent lanes) is a common motorcycle practice that seems dangerous in theory. After all, you’re putting yourself at risk every time you enter a car’s blind spot. But a yearlong California study showed that lane-splitting was no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle in general — except at high speeds. When riding 10 mph faster than traffic, motorcyclists are significantly more at risk for a fatal crash. If you’re considering splitting lanes, think before you zip through traffic.
Know who to call
Even the safest motorcyclists are more at risk for an accident than drivers of cars. If you’re involved in an accident, you need an attorney you can trust. The attorneys at Ed Bernstein & Associates have more than 40 years experience in personal injury law and understand its finer nuances. Visit edbernstein.com or call (702) 240-0000 to find out how to get started on the road to recovery.