The road is the first place where you can feel the year shift from winter into spring and summer. The precarious, slippery drives of only a few months ago transform into inviting, shade-dappled avenues full of possibility. As the weather turns warmer and the wildflowers come out, the road invites us to wander, to explore without regard for distance or direction, to literally seek out the road less traveled by.
For many, the perfect way to experience the road during summer is on a motorcycle. Whether your ride of choice is a souped-up Harley Davidson or a trim BMW cafe racer, a motorcycle offers an intimate connection to your surroundings and the road that leads you through them.
No matter where you drive—be it the historic Natchez Trace, the Pacific Coast Highway or Wyoming’s Beartooth Pass—it is essential to maintain proper caution and awareness. As any veteran motorcycle enthusiast will tell you, motorcycle safety is not just vital to your own experience, but is also the most important form of respect that you can show fellow road warriors.
Make Yourself Visible
It is up to every driver to be aware of not only their own actions, but to do their best to make others aware. That is doubly true when it comes to motorcycle safety. Like it or not, motorcycles can be hard for other vehicle drivers to see until they are in dangerously close proximity. In fact, the majority of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle whose driver did not see the motorcycle until it was too late.
Keys to being visible:
- Do your best to make yourself visible.
- Stay out of the blind spots of vehicles.
- Don’t get stuck behind large trucks.
- Keep your lights on at all times, even during the day.
- Wear bright clothing and helmets.
Beware of Environmental Conditions
When you have the road to yourself, stretching out before you under a cloudless sky, it’s easy to assume that nothing can go wrong. But just because the weather is nice or the road is clear does not mean that there are not hazardous conditions ahead.
Motorcycle safety involves remaining constantly alert. Smaller obstacles in the road can cause much bigger problems for a motorcycle than for a larger vehicle.
Things to watch out for:
- Gravel roads mean less traction under your wheels. Even scattered gravel on the pavement can cause major problems if you should need to stop or steer.
- Motorcycle tires are much more vulnerable to potholes and cracks. If the sharp edge of cracked pavement pinches your tire against the wheel rim, you are in for a dangerous blowout. Keep a keen eye out for potholes and cracks and if you can’t move around them, slow down to lessen the impact on your tire.
- Standing water can cause your bike to hydroplane. Avoid it if possible.
- Because your bike is smaller and faster than other vehicles, many animals may not sense it coming. In wooded areas or other environments where wildlife may be present, drive at a slower speed and scan the road ahead.
Always Play It Cool
The exhilaration of being on the open road sometimes causes motorcyclists to make poor decisions while driving. Motorcycle safety involves keeping a cool head and staying in control of yourself and your bike, no matter how exhilarated or daring you might feel.
General safety tips:
- Slamming the brakes can damage your tires and even compress your motorcycle’s front-end suspension system.
- Keep your speed steady. Accelerating too fast, too often is bad on your bike.
- Before you invite a passenger to join you, make sure that you have proved yourself a safe driver on plenty of solo rides.
- Don’t weave between lanes.
- Check your mirrors and look behind you frequently.
- If you feel drowsy while driving, stop and take a break.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
- Never take your eyes off the road.
Live to Ride Another Day
Remember, no matter how open the road may seem, it is vital to your safety and that of other motorcyclists that you remain aware of your surroundings and the road conditions. The attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek want you to remember motorcycle safety is the key to not only enjoying your ride today, but being able to ride again tomorrow.