Motorcycle Safety Tips
Motorcycle accidents can happen for reasons out of any control in some cases, however, there are some actions that you can take to reduce your risk of collision. Taking precautions is especially important for motorcyclists who are so much more exposed and vulnerable to injury on these types of vehicles than other motorists.
Seasonal Risks for Motorcyclists
Texas is one of the lucky states for motorcycle enthusiasts, as there are very few days that truly exclude the form of transport. Warm, dry days are best for riding, but the risks can vary by seasons, such as:
Spring Risks to Motorcycle Safety
Rain, high winds, and the start of construction season all contribute to spring dangers for bikers. Roads may be damaged from winter weather, and particularly treacherous with new potholes and debris – two inconveniences for cars that are dangerous obstacles for those on two wheels. May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, and campaigns are targeted at this time to grab drivers’ attention before the deadliest season – summer.
Summer Risks to Motorcycle Safety
June July and August are the most dangerous time of year for motorcyclists. Depending on the report, June may be most deadly by single-day tally, though July has the highest total number of fatalities in recent years. It is unsurprising that these months are the most trafficked by bikers, traveling for summer vacation with other holiday travelers, warm temperatures that discourage full-coverage attire, and continued construction on the hot asphalt.
Fall Risks to Motorcycle Safety
Early fall in Texas is still an extension of summer temperatures and conditions. Back to school and commuter traffic tick up during these months, contributing to chaotic driving conditions. Late fall cooling temps lead to tire pressure and mechanical issues as bikes adjust, as well as the potential for the first freezes at the very end of the season, accompanied by rain and sleet.
Winter Risks to Motorcycle Safety
Cold winter weather can result in icy-slick streets, snow, low visibility due to weather and shorter days. Still, Texas offers a relatively year-round riding season, leading many bikers here to persevere through our coldest months and even driving through notoriously dangerous holiday seasons.
The Importance of Maintenance for Motorcycle Safety
Proper maintenance of a motorcycle is just as, if not more, important than proper maintenance of a car. With only two tires on the ground and more of the machine’s structure exposed to the elements, it’s important to regularly look for anything that seems off and to keep all components in good working order. Make sure brakes are sound, tires have good tread, all lights are functioning. Have unusual noises or handling checked out for optimal function and build a relationship with a shop that you trust so you have a great resource ready when your bike needs a tune-up.
Don’t Overestimate the Benefit of Drivers School
As stated in this article from motor enthusiast publication The Drive:
“There is no statistical evidence that the basic safety course makes you a safer rider. The only way to be a safer rider is by using this equation: Extensive Personal Practice + Advanced Riding Courses = a Safer Rider.”
Top motorcycle instructors agree the only way to truly become a safer driver is through practice. Simply taking a course or doing the minimum practicing to get through a certification does not translate into the real-life handling skills and muscle memory that it takes to improve your ridership.
The Benefits of Real Motorcycle Gear
It is common to hear complaints about the expense of specialty gear for motorcycle riding. However, if you are going to make the commitment to owning a bike, you should absolutely make a commitment to your bodily safety while riding it. All motorist and vehicle safety resources recommend at least the following items of apparel for every ride, any time of year:
- Helmets for all riders (always invest in a new helmet, never Used)
- Well designed and fitted face shield, goggles, or glasses
- Bright or reflective clothing
- Durable clothing, with full-length sleeves and pants, plus gloves
- Durable boots that cover the ankles
If You Aren’t Ready, Don’t Ride
Experienced motorcycle instructors often advise a concept like “double defensive driving” – a name for the concept that motorcyclists need to be twice as vigilant toward their surroundings as any other driver on the road. If you are not a person with the diligence to drive in this way, if you feel unprepared or lacking practice, or even if you are an experienced driver having an off day, choose not to get on the bike. It’s a choice that may save lives.
Motorcycle Crash Statistics
Since 1997, the number of registered motorcycles in the United States has just about tripled. Just a few years ago, in 2013, 443,000 motorcycles were registered in Texas. This ranked Texas as the state with the third-highest number of registered bikes in the country. With biking season existing nearly year-round for Texas motorcyclists, bike enthusiasts and admirers alike may not be surprised at this popularity. The state has also consistently ranked highly in the overall percentage of women motorcyclists. This may bode well for Texas, as women riders have lower crash statistics than men – men make up 91% of motorcycle fatalities.
Wearing a helmet is a legal requirement in Texas, just as it is in nearly every state in the U.S. New Hampshire is the only state that does not have this requirement (interestingly, it is the state with the most lax seat belt laws as well). Still, even with safety gear requirements, motorcycling is very dangerous. In the last 20 years, the fatality rate for motorcyclists has more than doubled! Motorcycles are 38 times more dangerous than driving a car. And in Texas, more fatal motorcycle crashes occur overall in urban areas than rural, and also occur at a higher per capita rate in these areas.
Because there is so much passion for riding within the motorcycle community, many statistics are used to support ideas that there are safer ways to ride or to misrepresent the amount of control that bikers have in avoiding wrecks by practicing good motorcycle safety. For example, 70% of crashes that involve a motorcycle and another vehicle occur at intersections, where the driver in the other vehicle causes the accident.
No matter the spin, the fact is these vehicles are dangerous. Motorcyclists make up 3% of registered vehicles and 0.6% of all annual vehicle miles traveled in this country, but motorcyclists represent 14% of all traffic fatalities. If you are going to ride, do all you can to stay informed, stay alert, and stay safe.
What You Should Do After a Motorcycle Accident
After a motorcycle accident, just like after an accident, it is important to get checked out by a medical professional. Sadly, many motorcycle accidents result in such severe injuries for the driver that they have no choice in this decision – the ambulance called to the scene will make those determinations. In fact, these accidents are so dangerous that of the 436 motorcycle crashes in Texas in 2018, 398 motorcycle drivers were killed.
If those involved in the crash are lucky enough to make it through, it is extremely important to follow your prescribed treatment plan for healing any injuries. Many motorcyclists have a real passion for riding, but if you push your physical limitations too far and get right back on the bike after a serious injury, you run the risk of further injury and permanent damage. In addition, aggressively getting back to strenuous activities in this way can damage your chances for a good settlement through your insurance company. Your claim of injury and loss will be undermined by your actions.
Aside from prioritizing healing after the motorcycle accident, it is important to make sure that your personal interests are represented. When accidents do occur between a motorcycle and another vehicle, most of the time the at-fault party is the non-motorcyclist. A recent study found this disparity in the cause of accidents, and also found that a common reason for these collisions was distracted drivers failing to notice and give way to smaller vehicles. With an experienced motorcycle accident attorney working for you, you increase your chances of a higher settlement to cover all the expenses you are facing after your accident.
Our Attorneys Care About You and Your Motorcycle Safety
Even if you practice perfect motorcycle safety, there are still risk posed by other motorists. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a motorcycle accident, the time to call an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is now. Fighting insurance companies for good settlements after accidents on these dangerous vehicles can be a particularly difficult task. With the help of the expert legal team at Thompson Law behind you, you stand a much better chance of getting the justice you deserve and the highest possible compensation for your injuries, damages, pain, and suffering.
Thompson Law makes it as easy as possible to start your case, just call us in Dallas at 214-444-4444 or Fort Worth at 817-444-4444. After a traumatic motorcycle accident, the last thing you need to worry about is traveling around town to legal appointments and hassling with insurance company nonsense. Leave all of that to an expert team of motorcycle lawyers. In as little as 15 minutes on the phone, you can sign up for legal services with Thompson Law fighting for your just compensation and supporting you every step of the way.
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