We’ve all heard the horror stories and seen the gruesome images of what happens to motorcycle riders who get involved in an accident. Some parents use threats of lost limbs and smashed skulls to try to keep their kids off motorcycles, but what is the likelihood of a tragic accident actually happening to you each time you get on your motorcycle?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 5 million motorcycles were registered in the US in 2001, 74,000 of which were involved in an accident in that same year (i.e. just over 1.5% of motorcycle owners). By comparison, 129 million passenger cars were registered in the US in the same year, 6,705,000 (5%) of which were involved in an accident.
So you’re actually much more likely to be involved in an accident in a car, rather than a motorcycle. The problem is, if you’re on a motorcycle that gets involved in an accident, you don’t have seatbelts, airbags, or a metal body surrounding you, which is where the gruesome images and instinctive fear of motorcycles comes from.
On the other hand, motorcycles are more agile than cars and can both stop and accelerate more quickly than most passenger cars. All this should mean they’re better equipped to avoid an accident, but human error is always a factor. In order to maneuver your way out of an accident, you need to be prepared, so if you do own a motorcycle (or plan to), here’s what you can do to lower your probability of getting into an accident.
KNOW YOUR BIKE
You didn’t hit the highway as soon as you got your driver’s permit and you should not do so with your motorcycle either. You’re better off taking it easy and practicing things like slow maneuvers and braking in a parking lot first. Get to know your bike before taking it out on the open road, and once you do, make sure you take it out regularly in order to maintain that familiarity.
KEEP YOUR FRONT BRAKE COVERED
It may be tempting to let go of that front brake, especially on long rides, but doing so is never a good idea. Your life is on the line every second you spend on the road, and the ability to stop more quickly than a car is largely dependent on your access to your brakes. If you have to take extra time in an emergency to cover your brake before applying pressure, that tiny amount of time could be the difference between avoiding an accident and a trip to the hospital – or the morgue.
The images of women in bikinis and men in tank tops and shorts on their bikes may look appealing, but they’re extremely dangerous. Not only do you want to make sure you’re wearing a helmet at all times when riding a motorcycle, but proper gear also includes leather pants and jacket. They’ll keep you safe while looking good at the same time. They may not be the most comfortable warm weather wear, but they’re better than a smashed skull or a bare leg scraped across asphalt.
These are all in addition to the obvious tips to never drink and drive, always obey all traffic and safety laws, and keep your wits about you and pay attention at all times. Your life depends on it.
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, or your loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident, you need a personal injury attorney on your side.