These are 15 essential tips to avoid a motorcycle accident

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Most people have heard of motorcycles being dangerous or the dangers they pose to their lives. Motorcycles aren’t dangerous machines; the lack of protection they provide is what increases the risks.

If you’re going to ride a motorcycle, it’s important you learn some tips on how to avoid accidents. Motorcyclists are often difficult to see by other drivers, making them more vulnerable. These are some essential tips for motorcyclists to consider in order to avoid an accident with a motorcycle.

Perform basic preventative maintenance

Most motorcyclists are aware that if you’re going to own a motorcycle, you need to perform some basic maintenance on the machine. Most assume that’s mainly so the motorcycle will last longer and won’t leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

But basic maintenance does a lot more than preventing frustration; it also can prevent a potential accident while you’re out for a ride. When you perform maintenance on your motorcycle, think about what you’re preventing it from doing.

Let’s look at a few examples. Engine health is dependent on oil changes. If you do not change the oil, your engine could overheat and seize. Not only is that expensive, but it can be extremely dangerous if you’re out for a ride and your bike comes to an abrupt stop while on the freeway.

Tire care is another form of basic maintenance; they’re the components that are separating you from the road. A flat tire could cause you to be thrown off your bike. And let’s not forget about taking care of the chain. When that’s neglected, a motorcycle chain can jam up the sprockets and also cause you to come to a complete stop in the middle of the freeway.

This list could go on. Perform the basic yet vital preventative maintenance a motorcycle requires and it’ll more likely take care of you while you’re out for a ride. To learn more about servicing a motorcycle, see my other article.

Use a Light Modulator

Any way that you as a motorcyclist can make yourself more visible legally is worth investigating. It is highly recommended to use a light modulator on your motorcycle’s taillight and headlight.

The light modulator is an electronic device that connects directly to your motorcycle’s electrical components, such as the taillight and headlight. It alternates between high beams and low beams for the headlight. It flashes so that other drivers notice you more.

Some taillights on motorcycles are hard to see since they’re a bit small. The taillights will glow brighter when the motorcyclist applies brakes. However, not everyone behind them notices and ends up rearending them. A taillight modulator makes the taillight blink 5 times before it stays on the brighter side. This will help other drivers be more aware that the bike is stopped.

In all 50 U.S. States, light modulators are legal. Many states even recommend that motorcyclists use light modulators. According to studies, flashing lights such as these can help motorcyclists avoid crashes. You can read my other article to learn more about light modulators.

Pay Attention to Wherever You Are Stopping

It is important to know where you should stop at a stop sign. Motorcycles are different. While we don’t think twice about stopping at a stop sign or light as we drive our cars, it is something we do.

It is dangerous to stop in the middle of a lane between two cars. The reason being is that some motorists don’t see or notice a motorcycle stopped behind a car at a light and end up rear ending them which often leads to the motorcyclist being pinned between two cars.

Always stop behind another vehicle when you are stopped. If the other lane is occupied by oncoming traffic, it is best to turn right.

This won’t prevent you from getting rear ended, but it does prevent you from getting pinned. You don’t have to smash into the car in front of yours, but instead you should stop in a specific direction so you are pushed into an unfilled space. This is a better option than being pinned.

Avoid Riding At Night

While riding a motorcycle nighttime can be fun, you are more likely to get into an accident. It may seem extreme suggesting to avoid riding a motorcycle at night if possible, but there’s a lot of truth behind this fact.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (28% of fatal motorcycle accidents occurred between 9 p.m. & 3 a.m. in 2017). Motorcyclists who drive at night are particularly at risk, according to the study.

You’ll also have to consider other factors when it comes to night riding. You may not have been drinking, but that doesn’t mean other driver’s haven’t. Drivers who drink and drive at night are more likely than others to do so. Motorcyclists are more at risk when they encounter unpredictable behavior from other drivers.

Riding at night also also hinders a motorcyclist’s view of the road. This limited visibility can make it difficult for riders to see potholes and animals, even with the brightest headlights. These are all things that can be seen much better during the day.

Avoid riding in wet weather

A motorcycle is a great vehicle to ride on sunny days. Though it’s possible to ride a motorcycle in less ideal weather conditions, that doesn’t necessarily mean a biker should do so.

Inclement weather can be snow, rain and hail. It can be very dangerous for motorcyclists and can make it uncomfortable. Motorcycles are more susceptible to the elements when water or cold temperatures are introduced to the atmosphere.

It is often easy to drive a car in these conditions. But that’s because cars have four wheels whereas motorcycles only have two. You’re risking a lot when you decide to take your motorcycle for a spin in harsh weather when balancing on just two tires.

Like any other vehicle, motorcycles are also susceptible to hydroplaning. You are more likely to hydroplane if you ride in snow, rain, or hail. Once it does happen, it can be difficult to fix. To learn more about hydroplaning on motorcycles, click here.

Don’t forget that just because the sun is out doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good day to go out for a ride. It isn’t recommended to ride a motorcycle below freezing temperatures (32°F or 0°C). In these conditions, black ice can form easily on roads. Always look at the weather and temperature beforehand if you’re planning on taking your motorcycle for a spin.

Only ride in the side lane

This tip for avoiding a motorcycle accident is particularly important to long-distance riders. Being on the freeway or highway can be stressful enough. You can make the experience even more difficult by riding on a motorbike.

You should always ride in the far left or right lane if you’re going to be riding on major highways or freeways. Avoid staying in the middle lanes unless it is necessary to switch lanes.

You know how careless other drivers can be if you’re a motorcycle rider. Plus they’re less likely to see you in the first place. You have two lanes of traffic to consider if you ride in the middle lane. Riding in one of the side lanes means there’s only one lane of traffic you need to consider. You can reduce your chances of being hit by another vehicle by riding in the side lane.

Take a Safety Class

There are many courses available for motorcycle riding safety in the United States. This class should be taken seriously if you wish to learn how to become a safer rider and reduce your chances of getting into an accident with your motorcycle.

Anyone can take a motorcycle safety class. The course usually takes 1-3 days and involves several hours of classroom instruction as well as riding under the guidance of an instructor. The instructor will determine the price.

Safety riding courses are a great way to teach riders, whether they’re new or experienced, how to safely ride a motorcycle. Some states allow you to pass the safety riding course and get your motorcycle license by passing the DMV riding test.

This class is statistically proven to reduce the chances of riders in an accident. The California Motorcyclist Safety Program It was reported that a safety riding class can reduce the chance of you being involved in a fatal crash by 61%. This class has such positive statistics that it would be worth your time and money.

Assume that No One Can See You

It is important to assume that nobody can see you. There have been too many instances when complacent riders believed that drivers around them could see them. This has led to disastrous situations.

It’s easy to get a feeling of invincibility while riding a motorcycle, especially if you’ve ridden for years and have never had any type of accident at all. When complacency begins to set in, it’s when something bad happens.

General driver’s education doesn’t go into much about teaching drivers to be more aware of motorcyclists on the road. You cannot assume the drivers around you can see you; that’s literally a bet on your own life.

Always presume every single person around you on the road has no idea you’re there and ride accordingly. This means to never ride in people’s blind spots or ride too closely behind someone (tailgating). When they cause an accident on a motorcycle, the biggest excuse is that they don’t have insurance. “I didn’t see them.” Don’t let that be you.

Intersections: Be extra cautious

This tip cannot be stressed enough. It is important to be cautious at all intersections to avoid a motorcycle accident. Intersections are especially dangerous for motorcyclists and here’s why:

According to a study done at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “the failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents.” The same study also found that the most common scenario for motorcycle accidents happens in intersections when cars are turning and don’t see a motorcyclist in oncoming traffic.

Make sure to look both ways when approaching any intersection, regardless of whether they have a red light. If a car attempts to turn left, be alert and ready to respond. Also be on alert for cars trying to turn into your lane of traffic; it’s easy for them to pull in without seeing you which requires emergency maneuvering on your part.

Wear Reflective Gear

There is a certain type of fashion in the motorcycle world. While fashion may vary from one biker to the next, there are some common elements such as boots, jackets and helmets. The next suggestion to avoid a motorcycle crash may not be popular with those who take pride in their riding style.

It is a great way for other drivers to see you and your reflective gear. While this may not be in line with fashion standards, it is still important to avoid an accident.

Reflective gear could include wearing a brightly colored vest with reflectors, a helmet with reflectors, or adding reflectors to several parts of your bike. You can also buy reflection tape and put several strips anywhere you’d like either on you or on your motorcycle; that way you don’t have to buy gear specifically with reflectors on it.

Avoid drinking before riding

You probably already know that alcohol intake has a major impact on one’s ability to drive a car. Everybody reacts differently to alcohol and some people may experience a greater impact on their brain.

Blurred vision, blurred vision, slurred speaking, difficulty walking, impaired memory and delayed reaction times can all be caused by alcohol. All of these things can make a motorcycle ride dangerous. If your blood alcohol content (or BAC), is more than 0.08%, it’s illegal to drive or operate any vehicle in most countries.

It’s good practice to not consume any alcohol before taking your motorcycle for a ride. Your blood alcohol content is now 0%. Many people will argue that having just a very small amount of alcohol in your system is fine as it doesn’t have that much of an impact on your driving. But let’s look at a few scary facts.

According to the NHTSA, “In 2013, there were 4,399 motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those, 1,232 (28%) were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08 or higher). In addition, there were 305 (7%) fatally injured motorcycle riders who had lower alcohol levels (BACs of .01 to .07 g/dL).” These numbers show that alcohol consumption prior to riding a motorcycle is dangerous.

In addition to this, you’ll also need to consider that if you were somehow in an accident after having just one drink, you’d likely be held liable in some manner even if the accident wasn’t your fault. When it comes to riding a bike, alcohol is not your friend. Leave that for a time when you have a ride home and don’t have to rely on two wheels to get you around.

Practice Hard Maneuvers

No matter how good of a rider you are, you’ll likely come to some sort of obstacle while out riding on the road. These obstacles can sometimes require a quick response from you and your ability to respond quickly can make a big difference in whether you get into an accident.

This can help you avoid disaster by learning how to handle situations such as these. You can prepare by learning how you can do difficult maneuvers like tight turns, tight circles and accelerations.

Although they may appear easy to do when just watching, they are very difficult and require practice. These hard maneuvers can be practiced over a period of time. Don’t let yourself get rusty on these skills and continue practicing them a few times a year.

Use emergency brakes

Along with practicing sharp turns and hard maneuvering, it’s also an excellent idea to practice emergency braking on your motorcycle. There’s a big debate about the right way to do this and doing so the improper way could, in itself, cause an accident.

You’ll likely come upon a situation during your riding days that will call for you to slam on your brakes. Hard braking can sometimes be rough on the braking system of your bike, so don’t practice it so much that it causes damage. Some practice will help.

It is best to abruptly stop yourself safely and without accelerating. Then, evenly apply the brakes on both your rear and front wheels. You should not only apply the front brakes as this could cause too much force to the front, which can lead to a flip. Applying both brakes means you’ll have about 70% of braking force from the front and about 30% of braking help from the back.

Sometimes hard braking won’t prevent a collision. However, braking can reduce the impact and hopefully cause less serious injuries.

Don’t Ride Close To Semi Trucks

We’ve touched up on the idea of not riding too close to other cars to help avoid an accident on a motorcycle, but discussing semi’s deserves it’s own section. Semi trucks can be extremely helpful in transporting large loads to distant destinations. They are also very dangerous because they are so powerful and large.

A semi-truck accident means that the semi was likely to be only lightly scratched. These types of trucks can do so much damage to cars, it’s hard to imagine the damage they can do to a motorcycle.

It is best to avoid riding in the vicinity of semi trucks, especially if you are traveling at high speeds. Semi’s have a lot more blind spots than cars do and that’s a bad mix with a small motorcycle. If you’re riding near a semi, you should either accelerate ahead several hundred feet or let them pass.

Know Your Limits

The last but not the least, knowing your limits and your skills is one of the best ways to avoid a motorcycle crash. It’s good to put yourself out of your comfort zone, but perhaps that doesn’t apply very well to motorcycle riding.

You can immediately get rid of a situation you don’t like. Discomfort means you aren’t confident. Insufficient confidence on the roads can cause you to be irritable and skiddish. These characteristics won’t be friendly to you while out on a motorcycle. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing any type of riding you know you can’t do well.

With enough practice, motorcycle riding can help you become more comfortable with certain types of riding. Sometimes you may not be ready for certain roads or riding in certain ways. But keep riding confidently and you’ll work your way up there with the goal of being accident free.

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