As the weather improves in Las Vegas, more and more of us are getting our bikes out of winter storage and taking to the road. After time off, it is always a good idea to refresh yourself on motorcycle safety practices.
Motorcycles are, by their very nature, more dangerous than cars. For example, 5,286 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2016, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Safe practices are the best way to avoid becoming a statistic.
Here are some refresher motorcycle safety tips:
- Always wear your helmet, no matter how hot the day. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. A helmet will protect you not just from brain injury, but from facial injuries and damage. Most fatalities are caused by traumatic brain injury when your head hits the road. Helmets may be cumbersome and annoying, but they can keep you alive or, almost worse, from ending up a vegetable in a hospital bed. Keep your face shield down, as dust and debris on the road can easily cause eye injuries.
- Most motorcycling outfits are brown or black. That’s a bad idea. Either purchase bright colored garb or wear neon safety apparel over your leathers. A mesh vest is a great idea. You want to make sure other vehicles on the road can see you.
- Along the same lines, it can be very tempting to strip down in the summer. Unless heat exhaustion would impair your ability to drive, stick to your leathers. Road rash can be not just painful, but quite severe.
- Wear the right gloves. One tip from a professional is that cheap horseback riding gloves are lighter than most biking gloves and, thus, perfect for hot summer days.
- Don’t drink and ride. Ever. Don’t smoke marijuana and ride either. Legal matters aside; the last thing you want is any impaired judgment.
- On the same note: Don’t ride while tired. Take breaks frequently, drink coffee if you need to, and consider not riding if you didn’t sleep well the night before. Skipping one ride is better than having an accident. Fatigue impairs your reactions.
- Always look where you want to go, and remember the last place you want to go is down. Looking at a curb can increase your chances of hitting it.
- Obey the speed limit, even on open roads where you think there is no other traffic. A car can come out of a blind spot at any time. Make sure that other drivers are going to expect you to be there and respect all traffic laws. Running a red light is guaranteed trouble, even if there isn’t a cop in sight.
- Keep your headlights on, even during the day, as this can significantly increase the chance of a driver seeing you.
- Make sure to do all of your pre-ride checks. Mainly, when you get your bike out of storage, you should check the tires, check for oil and gas leaks under where you stored it, test all of your lights, and check hydraulic and coolant fluids. Don’t forget to clean your mirrors, too, as even if you had your bike under a tarp, they could accumulate dust. When setting out, check your clutch, throttle, brakes, and horn.
- Be aware of blind spots. Never ride next to a semi truck, as it’s effortless to end up in their blind spot, others might not see you, and their wake can cause problems. Make sure you can see the driver’s mirror before you pass.
- If riding in a group, ride with people you trust. Keep a 20-foot cushion between you and other riders, and be willing to hang back if they start riding more aggressively than you’d like.
- Stay within your skills and abilities. Be aware you may be rusty from the winter break and start with shorter, more comfortable rides to ease yourself back into it. You may find your comfort zone has shrunk slightly, so stay within it until you are comfortable doing more.
- Consider taking a refresher safety or riding course, if one is available. Keeping up with your education every year can help you avoid falling into sloppy bad habits.
- In traffic, don’t assume you can see everything in your mirrors. Make sure to take a glance over the appropriate shoulder before moving out into traffic. Never get within any vehicle and an off-ramp, because far too many drivers realize that is their exit at a point which is technically too late, but at which they can still physically make the turn.
- Always make sure you know where your escape route is. In many cases, it’s better to accelerate out of a bad situation through a gap than slam on the brakes and risk a skid. However, avoid weaving rapidly between lanes, as this can put you somewhere a driver doesn’t expect.
- Ride defensively and always assume that nobody else on the road has seen you. A lot of the time, they haven’t.
So, what do you do if the worst happens and you (or somebody with you) gets in an accident? Here are the steps you should take:
- Call, or have somebody call, 911. The chances somebody needs medical attention are very high.
- Check yourself and anyone else involved for injuries.
- If possible and safe, take photos, or get a witness to take pictures for you, of the accident scene before it can be too disturbed.
- Gather information from witnesses and make sure to get contact, vehicle, and insurance information from any other drivers or riders involved.
- Report that information to your insurance company, but do not give them a recorded statement, as they might use this against you.
- Contact a lawyer who specializes in handling motorcycle accidents.
You don’t just need any auto lawyer; you need one who deals explicitly with motorcyclists, and who knows the law in Las Vegas and surrounding areas.
Motorcycle accidents are one of Peter Mazzeo’s specialties. He is a highly skilled personal injury lawyer who can help you get compensation from the other driver or their insurance company. The majority of motorcycle accidents are not caused by the rider, but by a driver who is not paying sufficient attention, appropriately anticipating your movements or who did not see you because of some obstacle. Because of this, it’s essential to have proper legal representation, so your rights are considered and respected. If you need help working through your situation, contact us today.