Individuals face a far greater risk of catastrophic injury or death when riding a motorcycle than when traveling in a car, truck or other motor vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that for every mile traveled, the risk of fatal injury on a motorcycle exceeds is 26 times higher than in a regular passenger vehicle.
The size of a motorcycle, its speed capabilities, and the lack of protection afforded to the rider make motorcycles a very dangerous transportation option. Even when basic safety measures are taken by motorcyclists, the risk of injury remains very high.
According to statistics from the IIHS, 4,381 motorcyclists across the U.S were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2013, and motorcycle fatalities accounted for 13 percent of all crash-related deaths that year. Additional motorcycle accident statistics from that source reveal the shocking facts:
Fortunately, motorcyclists can minimize the risk of injury by being properly prepared, avoiding known hazards and exercising caution. Sevenish Law has produced short motorcycle safety video (above) which includes a summary of a few of the basic actions motorcyclists could take to reduce the risk of injury when riding. The following is a more in-depth look at safety tips riders should follow to stay safe.
Wear a Certified, Properly-Fitted Helmet and Protective Gear
Helmets are the main protective item motorcyclists must use to keep themselves safe while riding. While a helmet is not 100 percent effective in preventing significant head injury or death in a motorcycle accident, IIHS statistics do show that wearing a helmet while riding can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by about 67 percent. Motorcycle helmets are nearly 37 percent effective in reducing the risk of death to a motorcyclist.
Not all helmets will provide the same level of protection. Consumer Reports recommends riders wear a properly-fitted, full-face helmet that has been certified by the Department of Transportation. Helmets can also help minimize rider distractions. Helmets should be replaced about every five years, or less if the helmet has been damaged.
Motorcyclists should always wear protective gear when riding. Gloves, sunglasses or other eye protection, a long-sleeved sturdy jacket, jeans, leathers or other full-length pants, as well as enclosed-toe boots or over-the-ankle shoes are recommended for safety.
Do Not Buy a Motorcycle With Too Much Power
While buying a larger motorcycle that has tremendous speed and performance capabilities is tempting, buying a motorcycle with more power than you can easily handle can be dangerous. Motorcycles are not built as they were in decades past. Even smaller models are capable of traveling at a high rate of speed and providing all the power you need.
The first step in buying a motorcycle is determining how you intend to use it. Will you be using the bike to commute to and from work, to get around town, or do you plan on taking the bike on long road trips? You also need to make sure your feet can both rest flat on the ground while you are seated on the bike, and you are able to get on and off the bike without difficulty. Handlebars and controls should be easily accessible.
Take a Motorcycle Safety Class to Hone Your Skills
Whether you are new to riding a motorcycle or you are a seasoned professional, taking a motorcycle safety class can increase your riding skills. In most classes, you learn basic traffic safety laws, test your riding abilities on a track or in a controlled environment, and are trained on how to react to emergency situations.
Some instructors will also take the time to provide maintenance tips that could help you minimize the risk of a breakdown or malfunction. The majority of riders find that motorcycle safety classes leave them feeling more confident in their ability to ride safely and avert a potential disaster.
Conduct Routine Inspections and Perform Maintenance Regularly
One of the steps a motorcyclist should take when planning on going for a ride is to conduct a routine inspection of the bike. Tires should be checked for wear and tear, as well as correct inflation. The working order of brakes, lights, controls, cables, and chains should be verified. Oil, fuel and other fluid levels should be topped off. The American Motorcyclist Association has a simple three-minute check motorcyclists can perform prior to a ride. Performing regular maintenance is also extremely important and can prevent potentially deadly problems on the road.
Do What You Can to Avoid Rider Distractions
Any activity that causes a motorcyclist to take his or her eyes off the road, hands off the handlebars or attention off the task of riding is a dangerous rider distraction. Motorcyclists must remain extremely alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Cell phones must be put away, headphones should be avoided, and passengers should be educated so that they are aware of the importance of not distracting the motorcycle operator.
Motorcycles are much harder to see than larger vehicles, due to the smaller profile. For their own safety, motorcyclists must be very alert and avoid cars and trucks, rather than trusting that the drivers of those vehicles see them. If a motorcyclist’s reaction time is reduced by even a few seconds, it could mean the difference between avoiding an accident and becoming a statistic.
Do Not Ride When Weather or Road Conditions Are Poor
Another step motorcyclists can take to reduce the risk of injury when riding a motorcycle is to avoid going out for a ride when weather or road conditions are bad. Rain, ice, or snow on roads, streets and highways will significantly reduce a rider’s ability to control the bike or allow emergency maneuvers to avoid an accident or injury.
Stay away from potholes, uneven pavement, wet leaves, sand and other road hazards, as these can pose a risk to motorcyclists. Slowing down will help lower the chances of losing control, but it will not eliminate the danger these conditions present. The only way to fully eliminate the risk riders are likely to encounter when weather or road conditions are poor is to choose another form of transportation.
Seek The Expertise of a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Despite our best efforts to avoid injury, motorcycle accidents continue to occur. Injuries sustained from motorcycle accidents often are expensive and you can be left unable to work. If you were hurt in an accident that was not your fault, you deserve compensation to help with your costs and we can help. If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident in Indianapolis or throughout Indiana or if you would like to speak to someone about an injury, contact the Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyers at Sevenish Law Firm.