Motorcycle accidents are often associated with catastrophic injuries — and for logical reasons. According to information gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to lose their lives during a traffic collision than motorists in cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. Motorcyclists are also highly likely to suffer some sort of serious injury or a fatality in a crash, up to an 80% likelihood according to some NHTSA data.
With the severity of a motorcycle accident so clear, it is crucial that all riders take steps to protect themselves and reduce their chances of suffering a catastrophic injury in a crash. Thankfully, the steps to add safety to your motorcycle ride are not complex. Unfortunately, though, they are frequently overlooked by riders.
Always follow these motorcycle safety tips to reduce your chances of being seriously injured in a crash:
- Proper helmet use: Wearing a helmet while you are riding should be obvious, but did you know you should use a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet? The DOT reviews and researches motorcycle helmets sold to consumers to see if they fit their high standards of protection, which mostly focuses on impact ratings and how snuggly it can fit on a rider’s head. Purchase a DOT-compliant helmet as soon as possible if you do not already have one.
- Wear protective clothing: Road rash injuries are some of the worst and most common suffered by motorcyclists. When a rider is tumbling or sliding over asphalt due to a crash, the friction can tear through thin clothing and create severe or life-threatening cuts, scarring, rashes, and abrasions. Wearing thick, padded clothing is instrumental in preventing road rash. Protective clothing also includes garments with bright colors or reflectors, making you more visible to other motorists.
- Inspect your ride frequently: Mechanical failures can be dangerous to the average motorist but are all the more hazardous to a motorcyclist. To make certain your ride is roadworthy, give it a quick inspection each morning and take it into the shop a few times a year for a professional tune-up. When performing your own check, focus on brakes, taillights, handlebar controls, and tires.
- Only ride completely sober: More than 25% of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve a rider who was intoxicated at the time of the crash, according to NHTSA data. Do not risk becoming part of this harrowing statistic. Only ride when completely sober. Even a single drink can dangerously impair your reaction time and judgment for hours.
- Follow the law: Be mindful of all the rules of the road wherever you travel. Adhering to the law helps other local motorists anticipate your movements, reducing the chances of them hitting you. Also, keep in mind that California is the only state that allows lane splitting while riding. Don’t lane split in any other state because other drivers won’t be expecting you to be there when they merge, turn, or change lanes.
Filing a Lawsuit After a Motorcycle Crash
After being hit by a negligent motorist while riding your motorcycle, you will want to file a motorcycle accident claim. At this point, your own preventative and protective safety measures become important yet again. If there is evidence that you were responsible while riding and mindful of your situation, then it becomes harder for opposing insurance companies to try to pin liability on you. Insurance companies often try to partially blame motorcyclists for the extent of their injuries in order to cut back how much they owe in damages for medical bills.
For example, if recordings from the scene of the crash show you are wearing a proper helmet and protective clothing, then there is proof that shows you did all you could to minimize your own injuries. The same is true if you are interviewed by a police officer and they make note of your sobriety.
With this in mind, protecting yourself whenever you ride also protects any potential injury claims from unsavory insurance company tactics.