According to the National Motorcycle Institute, a motorcyclist is five times more likely to be injured and 27 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than in a motor vehicle accident. During the peak warm months of the year, there are over six million motorcycles on the road and it’s important to do everything you can do to protect yourself if you plan to be one of them. Our Georgia motorcycle accident attorneys at Kaufman Law have compiled a list of ten safety tips to keep you safe while on the road.
1. Get a Motorcycle Inspection
It’s important to get your motorcycle inspected professionally at least once or twice a year to make sure everything is still functioning properly. On top of that, you should do a thorough pre-ride inspection before hitting the road. Check the bike tire tread and air pressure and test the headlights, taillights, signals, and brake lights. You always want to be certain that all of the lights and signals are functioning properly. For a more detailed inspection, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends the T-CLOCK inspection.
2. Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Motorcycle safety programs can help riders acquire or even refine important life-saving skills and provide a chance to practice potentially critical future situations before they happen. The statistics support this as well showing that 90% of riders involved in a crash have not taken any motorcycle safety training. Motorcycle safety classes typically cover a variety of skills and procedures that are critical for confident and safe riding as well as teaching the rider how to handle a variety of traffic situations. As a bonus, most insurances companies will offer a discount as well after completing a certified safety course.
3. Always Wear a Proper Helmet
Georgia is one of 19 states that make the laws clear that riders should be wearing a helmet at all times. More importantly, wearing a helmet greatly reduces the risk of a brain injury and reduces the chance of death by 37%. It’s smart to always go for a full face helmet that has been approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This will protect your chin bar area which has been shown to hit the pavement in many motorcycle accidents. There are many modern models of helmets that are lightweight and comfortable without sacrificing your safety.
4. Wear Protective Gear
Even during the warm summer month’s, it’s important for riders to wear all the proper gear. This means opting for heavy protective fabrics, like leather or textiles with added armor and getting jackets, pants, gloves, and over the ankle footwear specifically designed for adding additional impact protection. It’s important when budgeting for your bike to set aside 10-20% of the budget for top of the line protective gear. Although it can be sometimes expensive, it’s not where you want to cheap out. Also, aim for bright colors, or if you prefer darker gear, make sure the fabric has reflective seams and trim so that you can be easily seen.
5. Ride Within Your Skill Level
The safest thing you can do is understand your own ability level when riding. You may think that because you have been riding for a long time that you are no longer a beginner, but it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding it’s your ability to control the motorcycle at all times and in all terrains that define your skill level. Sixty percent of fatal motorcycle crashes occur on curvy, rural roads. If you are a beginner and still don’t have full control it would be best to avoid these kinds of roads.
6. Stay Prepared for Inclement Weather
When preparing for a ride it’s important to always check the upcoming weather conditions. Riding your motorcycle in the rain may not be avoidable for some, so it’s important to wear the right gear that has waterproof membranes like Gore-tex and look for storm flaps and multiple front zippers designed to tightly seal out water. Beyond waterproof gear, it’s important to watch for extra slippery surfaces like painted-on lines, manhole covers, and steel plates and to always take additional care when braking or accelerating due to the reduced traction during bad weather.
7. Respect All Traffic Laws
Motorcyclists should always follow the same traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles, including staying in the lane and avoiding weaving between lanes during heavy traffic, following at a safe distance, always using turn signals, and most importantly obey the speed limits at all times. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 33% of motorcycle riders killed in accidents were a “direct result” of speeding. Excessive speed gives you fewer chances to correct for all sorts of errors. Although some studies have show lane splitting to be safe when done at proper speeds, it is illegal in Georgia and should be avoided or you may be liable for injuries that occur to you and others involved as a result of an accident.
8. Ride Defensively
Defensive driving is one of the most effective ways to stay safe on the road when driving a motorcycle. This is an all-encompassing term related to wearing the right gear and maintaining your ride like we discussed earlier, but it’s also about creating important driving habits. Always get in the habit of checking your mirrors regularly and looking ahead in traffic to anticipate changes in traffic patterns or identify aggressive drivers to avoid. It’s also important to be confident in your decisions, but never aggressive, avoiding sudden and unexpected maneuvers, impatient acceleration or deceleration in heavy traffic, and aggressive breaking, as optimal breaking techniques learned in safety classes can save lives.
9. Install an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
As every rider knows, stopping on a motorcycle isn’t as simple as stopping in a motor vehicle. Most bikes have separate controls for front and rear brakes and either wheel can lock up during aggressive or emergency braking. In a car, a lockup might result in a skid, but on a motorcycle it will most likely end up in a serious fall. This is why it’s very important to install an anti-lock braking system (ABS) on your motorcycle. Studies show that motorcycles with ABS are involved in 20% less crashes and are 31% less likely to be deadly. It’s also shown that motorcycles with ABS have improved stopping distances on both wet and dry surfaces.
10. Have More Than Minimum Coverage
Georgia requires motorcycles to carry at least the state minimum insurance liability, but it’s important to purchase additional protection for unforeseen expenses in case of injuries to you, your passenger, your bike or other vehicles. A big one is Underinsured/Uninsured Insurance, which will cover damage and medical expenses if an uninsured motorist hits you or even worse if you are involved in a hit and run accident. Comprehensive insurance will also cover you if your motorcycle is stolen or damaged through a non-vehicle collision. Lastly, you may want to look into roadside assistance that will cover you if you break down on the side of the road or need a roadside repair above your ability level.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident because of another motorist’s negligent driving behavior, despite taking the necessary precautions, then contact Georgia’s best motorcycle attorneys at Kaufman Law.