Quick Tips for Staying Safe on Your Motorcycle
Wayne O’Bryan has served as a lawyer for a lot of motorcycle wrecks and he has seen some bad ones. One client was riding his bike through a tunnel when a tractor-trailer moved into his lane and caused a horrible accident. We got a fair settlement for that poor man who was injured through somebody else’s fault.
Riding a motorcycle can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. Motorcycles represent 2.5% of all registered vehicles but 11.3% of traffic deaths. In 2006, motorcycles accounted for over 4,800 fatalities and 88,000 injuries in the United States. In Virginia, there were 2,601 motorcycle crashes that resulted in 126 motorcycle operator deaths and 2,284 occupant injuries in 2007.
Follow these safety tips in order to have a safe ride.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing to maximize your visibility at night.
- Wear a DOT, ANSI, OR Snell-approved helmet that is designed with a hard outer shell and a retention system to protect the head and the brain in a variety of impacts. In 2006, 41% of those killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet.
- If your helmet is not equipped with a face shield, wear goggles or glasses with plastic lenses to protect your eyes against insects, wind, dirt, rocks, or other airborne matter.
- Wear elbow pads, kneepads and slip-resistant shoes and avoid wearing sandals, flip-flops or shoes with laces.
- Wear durable, non-slip gloves that provide firm grips on the controls along with long pants and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket.
- Ride with the flow of traffic and pass vehicles with extreme care.
- Reduce your speed when riding over bumpy roads.
- Obey the speed limits and never travel faster than your skill level or than the conditions allow.
- Learn how to use both front and rear brakes and to properly downshift through the gears as you slow down or stop.
- Keep your headlights on both day and night.
- Check your mirrors and blind spots frequently.
- Use caution when riding in bus traffic and watch out for buses pulling to and from curbs and passengers getting on and off buses.
- Know how to use hand signals and signal well before you make a turn or lane change.
- Use extra caution at intersections, parking lot entrances and exits, and driveways.
- Avoid hitting road hazards, such as sharp bumps and holes in the road surface. These hazards can cause loss of control or damage.
- Be especially conscious of traffic from behind.
- Check with your DMV to find out where local safety classes are being held.
- Get licensed. In Virginia, you must hold a valid class M endorsement on your driver license.
- Register your motorcycle. In Virginia, you must have a VA title, registration card, and license plate.
- Do not block sidewalks, handicap and building accesses, or emergency drives when parking your motorcycle.
You should follow all of these general tips, but keep in mind that this checklist is not completely exhaustive and you should check with your state DMV for state specific rules.
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