Anyone who rides a motorcycle knows how exhilarating it feels to cruise down the open road. Taking in the sights and feeling the wind on your face can leave you feeling like you're on top of the world. However, while riding a motorcycle can be a great experience, it can also be incredibly dangerous. According to data reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2021, motorcycle accident fatalities made up 14% of all traffic fatalities, making it the highest number since at least 1975. Now more than ever, as more and more motorists take to the roads, it is imperative we continue to take road safety seriously and ensure the next time you mount your bike is not the last.
Ways You Can Stay Safe On the Road
We know it's tempting to just get on the road and take your bike on a joy ride, but before you do, it's important you take the time to ensure you are taking all the necessary precautions. Below, we've gone ahead and broken down some of the safety "steps and checks" you should take before and during your bike ride and what to do after an accident.
Before the Ride
Just like vehicles, motorcycles can vary in handling and responsiveness. Whether you're a seasoned motorist or just dipping your toes into the biking world, it's important for you to know what to expect when handling your bike on and off the road. Take your time to get accustomed to the feel of a new or unfamiliar motorcycle and ride it in a controlled area. Then, once you feel confident with your control over the bike, you can take it into traffic. For added precaution, before you hit the road, we also highly recommend you regularly inspect your bike for any of the following potential safety issues:
- Tire pressure and tread depth
- Hand and foot breaks
- Headlights and signal indicator
- Fluid levels
Don't forget to check under the motorcycle for signs of oil or gas leaks. If you notice any issues with the items listed above, contact your local repair shop or motorcycle dealership to have a professional inspect and, if necessary, repair your bike.
During the Ride
One of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and those around you safe while riding your motorcycle is to stick to the rules of the road. Drivers and motorists are subject to the same traffic laws, so while some motorists may think it is okay to bob and weave through traffic or speed up to get ahead of a few cars, you may be breaking a few laws. Always ensure you are keeping a watchful eye on the road, adhering to the speed limits, and following the traffic signals and signs to keep the traffic flow moving safely.
Sometimes, keeping track of the road is not enough to ensure you're safe. As a motorist, when you're sharing the road with other vehicles, typically, you'll look and feel much smaller than others. In some cases, this can leave you vulnerable to getting lost in a blind spot, and in the event another driver does not notice you on the road, it's up to you to ensure you know how and when to respond and avoid any potential accidents. You can also help other motorists and drivers see you on the road by wearing bright and/or reflective clothing.
Passengers and Cargo
In the event you are carrying a passenger, you'll want to make sure they know what to do when getting on your motorcycle. For example, when mounting the bike, the passenger should only mount after the engine has started; should sit directly behind you, as far forward as possible, and hold on firmly to your waist, hips, or belt. Remind your passenger they should keep their movement on the bike to a minimum and lean at the same time and direction as you do.
During the ride, make sure to remind your passenger to keep their feet away from the muffler and to keep both feet on the footrests at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped. Do not let your passenger dismount the motorcycle until you say it is safe to do so. Most importantly, ensure your passenger fully understands the rules of the road and, like yourself, is always wearing their helmet.
If you are carrying cargo on your motorcycle, ensure the cargo is securely placed on the bike and that the load is balanced. If necessary, you can adjust the suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight. For safety, do not overcrowd your bike and only carry what you need. In the event you want to carry a larger load, consider swapping to a vehicle.
After an Accident
So you've checked off all the boxes on your security checklist, but unfortunately, after you hit the open road, you've found yourself involved in an accident. Immediately after an accident, if you are on the road or in immediate danger, distance yourself from the scene and head to a safe location like the side of the road or the nearest sidewalk. Inspect your head and body for any visible injuries, and if you are able, dial 911. If you are unable to access your phone or are injured, ask others in the surrounding area to call an ambulance if they have not already done so. Once the ambulance is on the scene, do not refuse medical attention, as some injuries are not always visible.
If you are able, and when it is safe to do so, use your phone to collect evidence from the scene by taking photos and videos of your motorcycle. If another vehicle was involved, document/capture any of the potential damages on the vehicle, as well as the vehicle's license plate and the driver's insurance number. We also encourage you to collect witness statements, as this may serve as evidence for your claim later on. Next, contact your insurance company and inform them that you have been involved in an accident. Once law enforcement is on the scene, ensure you collect the name, badge, and incident report number from the officer handling your accident.
After your accident, we highly suggest you seek further medical attention to address any potential injuries that may not be immediately visible. Motorcycle accident victims often suffer from internal bleeding or psychological injuries such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety. Finally, we recommend you contact a motorcycle accident attorney. Speaking with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney can significantly increase your chances of recovering compensation for any damages you may have suffered due to your accident.
Contact a Morgan & Morgan Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Did you know that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month? While May is still a few months away, it's always a good idea to ensure you're keeping yourself and your loved ones safe when sharing the road with other motorists. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a motorcycle accident, you can rely on a Morgan & Morgan attorney to help guide you through not only the physical recovery process but also the legal recovery. After a motorcycle accident, don't wait to seek help from a Morgan & Morgan attorney. Contact us today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.