The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s March 31, 2010 news release states that motorcycles with anti-lock brakes are 37% less likely to be involved in fatal collisions than those without (per 10,000 registered vehicle years). Furthermore, motorcycles with anti-lock brakes file 22% fewer damage claims per insured vehicle year* than the same models without anti-lock brakes.
Responsible motorcyclists clearly need to immediately act on this information to increase everyone’s safety out on the roads. Unfortunately, over 5,000 people lost their lives as the result of motorcycle accidents in 2008. That total is higher than any other year since the federal government began collecting such data back in 1975.
Of course, this upswing in accidents and fatalities is partially due to the increasing popularity of riding motorcycles. In 2008, 7.7 million motorcycle registrations were filed, compared to only 4.3 million in 2000. These statistics are particularly noteworthy since car and truck accidents declined during that same time period. It’s clear that the general public, as well as motorcycle riders themselves, need to review various safety precautions in light of the increased presence of motorcycles on all of our country’s streets and roads.
Tips for Increasing the Safety of Riding a Motorcycle
The following list should provide at least a starting point for those wanting to increase their safety while riding a motorcycle.
- Wear the safest helmet you can afford (based on Department of Transportation standards), regardless of whether or not your state requires you to do so – head injuries account for the largest number of motorcycle accident fatalities of all injuries sustained
- Obtain proper training before applying for your license and take refresher courses as needed
- Make sure to take your motorcycle in for regular tune-ups and check-ups so that any malfunctioning parts can be fixed or replaced
- Do plenty of research before ever buying a motorcycle to be sure you’re purchasing the model best suited to your needs and ability to maneuver it properly
- Never add more passengers than allowed for your particular model of motorcycle
- If your current motorcycle doesn’t have anti-lock brakes, either have them installed or purchase another “bike” that has them.
- Wear the best protective gear you can afford, the since motorcyclists need all the protection they can get when either directly hit by another vehicle or thrown a great distance from the accident site;
- Never ride your motorcycle if you’ve been drinking or using any type of drug that might impair your coordination or reaction times
- Don’t ride beyond your own skill levels
- Be completely familiar with the safety guidelines for motorcyclists issued by your state or any other state you plan to visit
- Never speed on your bike or weave carelessly between other motor vehicles;
- Never tailgate other vehicles
- Slow down during bad weather and consider postponing any motorcycle trips until the weather improves; hydroplaning (having your tires skid above the actual road surface when it’s very wet or raining outdoors) is especially dangerous for motorcyclists, since they have even less traction than larger vehicles
- Never try to customize your motorcycle in any manner that might compromise your safety or violate any laws.
If you’ll keep in mind all of the safety suggestions listed above, you can greatly increase your safety while riding your motorcycle in the upcoming beautiful spring and summer months, as well as during the rest of the year.
*a vehicle year is one vehicle insured for one year, two insured for six months, and so forth.