Being that motorcycles are fuel efficient and fun to ride the numbers are increasing on the roads we travel today. If you research bike safety, you will discover that you are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people driving in a car. Nearly half are involved in single-vehicle crashes.
These numbers grow for older riders. One is that many older riders are taking up motorcycle riding again. They had a bike when they were younger, and since the kids are grown and moved out of the house, they decide to get involved again. Because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, and brittle bones, and many other disadvantages. Older riders are three times more likely to be in a crash, and most likely be hospitalized after a collision than a younger rider.
On the flip side of that coin, they are many riders that ride all their lives without injury. The way to avoid risks is to be as prepared for the unexpected as you can. In 2010 according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 48% of fatalities were caused by speeding, alcohol was a factor in 42%. If you can remove those two elements, you will significantly reduce your risk while riding.
If you haven’t ridden in many years, do your research on the motorcycle you wish to buy. Motorcycles of today are considerably different from the one you rode in the past. Performance has changed in today’s bikes. The bikes are notably faster and have a lot more torque than 10 to 20 years ago.
When choosing your new motorcycle find one that fits you. When you sit in the saddle, your feet should be flat on the ground. When you sit on the bike, and you are only able to touch the ground with your toes. You put yourself in the situation of not being able to control your bike at a stop. The handlebars and controls should be withing easy access. Check for ease of getting off and on with the side stand down, or the center stand down. The weight of the bike is a huge consideration. If the motorcycle feels too heavy to you, it probably is.
You might want to start off with a smaller bike model 250-300cc engine which makes it a great starter for commuting. If you plan to use it on the highway, you might want to choose a bike that has a 500-750cc range, so you will be able to run with traffic.
With the option of anti-lock brakes on a wide array of motorcycles, Anti-lock brakes are a proven life saver. Motorcycles with anti-lock brakes were 37% less likely to be involved in an accident than one without. The introduction of ABS brakes gives you an edge while on the road. So invest in anti-lock brakes if you have that as an option. Anti-lock brakes will stop you better. Locking up the brakes in panic stop reduces the rider has to control the motorcycle. Most times when you lock up the brakes will put you into a skid and crash, which can lead to serious injury. ABS helps in maintaining steering control during an emergency stop. On wet or slippery roads this can help you retain the control of the bike as it comes to a stop.
On many high-end motorcycles, this option is standard but adds a few hundred dollars to the price of the bike. Many insurance companies offset the premium with a discount for this option. It’s an investment for you and your passenger’s safety. Can you put a price on your safety? Either way, my opinion is that it is a worthwhile investment.
Practice your skills and find a Motorcycle Safety Foundation riding course in your area. The course will provide you with the training for the basic and advance motorcycling techniques to keep you as safe as possible. The training is critical for enjoyment and safety of riding a motorcycle. Best part cost ranges from free to $350. An approved riding course may make you eligible for an insurance discount, and in some states, to skip the road test and written test part of the licensing process. Some motorcycle manufacturers that offer a credit towards the cost of a new bike or if you sign up for the MSF course. They are 2700 locations for such courses around the United States.
Protect your head. Look for a helmet that is Department of Transportation approved. (Look for the DOT sticker on the helmet). Riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to have a severe head injury in a crash and are three times more likely to suffer brain injuries. Then riders who don’t wear helmets. Modern helmets are durable, lightweight, and reduce wind and noise fatigue. Remember helmets over time need to be replaced every five years or sooner if the helmet has been in a crash or damaged. Exposure to the elements and hair oil and chemicals, causes the helmet to deteriorate. When you do buy another helmet, you will notice an improvement from the helmet you have been using for the past five years. Helmet improvement over time in design and materials.
Choose the right gear for the ride. Jeans T-shirts and sandals are a disaster just waiting to happen. You want to choose the gear that will protect you from the chill of the wind, flying debris and bugs. You want to protect yourself from road rash if you do happen to get into a slide. Always go for the maximum protection, reinforced jackets or leather, gloves, full pants and ankle protection footwear even in the spring and summer months. Motorcycle jackets today are specifically designed with rugged padding mesh material for maximum protection and ventilation for those warm days. It’s essential to have eye protection, don’t rely on your sunglasses or bike windscreen. Instead, find a helmet with a visor or use goggles. Make sure you are visible to others on the road, so choose bright colors. Most crashes the driver admits they just didn’t see the motorcycle rider.
Be on the defensive and never put yourself in a bad position. A study conducted by the University of Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research found that in a collision between a car and a motorcycle, car drivers were 60% at fault. With drivers texting and talking on the phone provides us all with we need to be extra alert at all times. Be aware of cars changing lanes or pulling out from side streets. Don’t tailgate, keeping a safe distance is imperative to ensure safe maneuvering braking distance and reaction to obstacles in the road. An object in the road that a car can roll over might could be a grave danger for the rider.
Check weather conditions before venturing out. Wet roads can cause slippery conditions and reduce your margin for error. Rain reduces visibility and tire traction. Reduced tire traction can make cornering and stopping the bike a bit trick. The first start of precipitation lifts the oil residue on a wet road which can enhance the danger. Avoid sudden stops or about maneuvering. Take extra care when applying the brakes, throttle, and steering to avoid sliding. When riding with high winds, be proactive in anticipating the potential push of the wind from the side by moving to the lane the wind is coming. Giving you some room in case a gust of wind pushes you.
Road hazards can come in many different forms. Gravel, sand, leaves can upset your bike and cause you to slide unexpectedly, quickly resulting in a spill. Potholes, bumps will surprise you if you’re following too close to a vehicle. Or unable to maneuver the bike around them. Slow down as much as you can before encountering them, with minimal steering input. When riding over railroad tracks try to approach them as close to a right angle to reduce the chances of a skid.
Before you set off on your adventure, make a walk around safety check. Make sure all your lights are in good working order. Inspection of tire pressure, tread and make sure that your tires are at the proper pressure. Examine chain, belt or shaft, and brakes are in good working order. Most mechanics will tell you that worn tires, improper inflation, or worn out brakes will increase your odds of having an issue. Tires underinflated, will create handling problems.
Taking the time to do your safety checks for the road will significantly reduce problems and enhance your riding experience.
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