Men have always had an obsession with going fast and the open road. It’s an obsession that can get you in trouble, especially if motorcycles are your preferred mode of transport. In most situations people have to take a motorcycle safety course before they can get a license to drive their hog. The main focus of the course is making sure you can handle the machine, know all of the laws and practice safe driving techniques.
But that isn’t the end all be all of motorcycle safety. There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself before the ride in addition to making smart decisions on the road.
Even if you follow all of the safety guidelines below, you can’t control the other drivers. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to have the contact information for a motorcycle accident attorney on hand. For your own protection the police, your insurance company and an attorney should be notified immediately if you get in an accident.
Always Do a Safety Check Before Hitting the Road
Safety starts before you put a motorcycle into first gear. Riders should never hit the open road without first making sure their bike is in perfect working condition. The things you’ll want to check include:
- Brake lights
Always Ride With an Emergency Kit
Chances are your car has an emergency kit in the trunk. Sure, space is limited on a motorcycle, but an emergency roadside kit is worth making a little room for. A good kit will include first aid supplies, tire repair supplies, flashlight, basic tool kit, electrical tape and a phone.
Get Yourself Some Motorcycle Safety Gear
There’s nothing between you and the road expect what you’re wearing. You may not spend much time thinking about your everyday attire, but your motorcycle gear should be well thought out.
DOT-Approved, Full Face Helmet
The most important piece of motorcycle safety gear is the helmet. Some states require them while others don’t. Even if it’s not required by law, a helmet is always suggested because it can mean the difference between walking away from an accident and not living through the ordeal.
The helmets that offer the best protection are DOT-approved. The Department of Transportation has created minimum requirements based on impact tests. Any helmet that is given the DOT seal of approval has met or exceeded those requirements. There are also a number of helmet styles that offer different types of coverage. A full-face helmet that covers the entire head from the jawline up is going to be safer than any other option.
Boots With Ankle Coverage
After the helmet the next most important piece of riding gear is a pair of sturdy boots that go up past the ankles. When a rider goes down injury the to feet and ankles is very common. A study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the most common motorcycle accident injuries treated at level I and level II trauma centers were lower extremity wounds. Proper riding boots will help you avoid these injuries and won’t cause problems like catching on the foot pegs.
If you plan to ride at night you’ll need a reflective vest. Motorcycles are hard enough to see during the day, but at night riders can be near invisible in some situations. A reflective safety vest in a bright color will make you much more visible to the other drivers.
Jacket and Pants
As noted above, protecting your lower extremities is important for motorcycle riders. But it’s also just as important to protect your upper body because road rash is one of the most common injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle jackets and pants are designed to protect the skin so that the outerwear takes the beating not you. At the very least riders should wear leather pants or jeans along with a jacket anytime they ride.
Gloves make motorcycle riding safer in two ways. 1.) They protect the hands from wind chill and debris so that it’s easier to operate the motorcycle. 2.) They protect against injuries like road rash and muscle damage during an accident.
Far too many guys get into the mindset that taking safety precautions somehow takes away from the manliness of riding a motorcycle. But these are dangerous machines that have to be respected. You can’t control other drivers, but you can take steps to protect yourself so you can keep on riding years down the road.