Top Five Safety Tips for National Motorcycle Ride Day, Oct. 14

As National Motorcycle Ride Day approaches, observed on the second Saturday in October, it’s time to celebrate the freedom of the open road. It’s now 150 years since Ernest Michaux, among others, had the idea of motorizing the bicycle. Ernest, the son of the French blacksmith Pierre Michaux, inventor of an early form of the modern bicycle called the velocipede, attached a single-cylinder, alcohol-fueled steam engine to his father’s creation. The so-called steam velocipede was not a commercial success, but the age of the motorcycle was born.

Motorcycles have undergone countless advances since Michaux’s prototype. But while performance has improved enormously, safety remains an issue. Danger, unfortunately, is in the nature of the machine. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that motorcycle riders are 29 times more likely to die in a crash than are passenger car occupants. That higher rate is due in large part to the fact that a rider’s body is exposed to the elements and other vehicles. However, there are many things motorcycle riders can and should do to reduce risks on the road.

So, in honor of National Motorcycle Ride Day, here are five important safety tips for riders:

  • Perform a visual inspection before each ride — It’s especially important to inspect your chain and tires. Tire problems are the most dangerous hazard that you can detect with a quick visual inspection. Are they underinflated? Is there anything caught in the tread? Did you pick up a sharp stone or a nail?
  • Wear the best full gear you can afford — Helmet, gloves, jacket with body armor, pants, and boots are essential for protecting your body if you go down. Don’t skimp on your equipment purchases and don’t neglect to wear full gear, even on the warmest, sunniest days.
  • Practice defensive riding — Whenever you ride, you want to create and maintain a safety sphere by making sure you have enough stopping distance ahead of you and are aware of who is behind and beside you. You should ride in the car tire track close to the lane marker. This allows you better traction, since you’re not driving over oil residue from cars, which collects in the center of the lane. It also gives you better visibility down the length of the road and discourages vehicles in the adjacent lane from creeping up on you. Maintaining your defensive sphere allows you to anticipate trouble ahead and increases your maneuverability if you are forced to evade a hazard.
  • Prepare for conditions — You can prepare for road conditions by checking your itinerary before your ride and looking down road during your ride. You must also prepare for weather conditions, especially wind and rain, by wearing appropriate clothing. The more comfortable you are riding in adverse conditions, the more alert you will be.
  • Don’t ride above your skill level —This tip often comes down to a single factor: speed. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 33 percent of riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding. But even if your rate of speed is not illegal, it could be above your skill level. You might be going too fast to hold a turn or make an evasive maneuver when encountering hazards, such as potholes. Always maintain a safe speed for your skill level, so you can improve your skill over time. If you try to perform at a master level too quickly, you may never get there.

Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban wants bikers to enjoy safe travels. But if you are ever hurt in a motorcycle accident in Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina, you can trust us to fight for your rights. Call (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


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