Are you ready to share the road responsibly as a motorcyclist or motorist? The National Safety Council (NSC), joined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), challenges you to do everything you can in May 2021 to ride and drive safely because it is once again Motorcycle Safety Month.
Each May is designated as Motorcycle Safety Month because it is right about this time each year that motorcyclists tend to hit the road more often. Winter weather in many parts of the country can mean dangerous riding, so there is a predictable drop in riders when the weather goes cold. As things warm up in May, though, the drop inverts to a big spike of new and returning riders on the road, which means there is no better time than right now to review some must-know motorcycle safety tips for riders and motorists alike.
Five fast motorcycle safety tips for Motorcycle Safety Month:
- Gear up: Every motorcyclist should wear a helmet that has been approved by the Department of Transportation for maximum head protection. Even if your state does not require you to wear a helmet by law, you should. There’s just no substituting the serious protection that only a properly fitting helmet can provide. DOT-compliant motorcycle helmet use was just over 70% in 2019, which means 3-in-10 riders are risking their good health for no good reason. Don’t forget to wear other types of protective gear and clothing, too, like gloves, knee pads, closed-toe shoes, jeans, and a jacket.
- Check your ride: The NHTSA advises that you complete a quick motorcycle maintenance checklist before you ride, whether you are going across the state to see a family member or just down to the corner store for some bread. Your checklist should at least include tire pressure, tread quality, hand and foot brake functionality, headlight brightness, and turn signal functionality. Look under your motorcycle for signs of any leaking fluids. Lastly, if you have loaded something onto your ride, then practice your balance on your ride before getting up to highway speeds.
- Never ride drunk: Out of the 4,985 recorded motorcyclist deaths in 2018, approximately 25% of those fatal motorcycle accidents involved a drunk rider. Countless more were severely injured in crashes caused by their own intoxication or impairment. Never get on your motorcycle after just one drink. If you use a recreational or prescription drug, then talk to your doctor as soon as possible about how it might impair your ability to ride safely and for how long. The only safe way to ride your motorcycle is sober and distraction-free.
- Don’t lane-split outside of California: The only state that allows lane-splitting – or riding in between cars in traffic to pass – is California. If you are riding anywhere else, then you should not lane-split. Motorists will not expect you to be between their car and the next, so there is an inherently higher chance that they could suddenly hit you while turning, changing lanes, or merging. Lane-splitting, where it is prohibited, can also increase your liability in a crash.
- Look for smaller vehicles: As a motorist, you have a big responsibility to keep motorcyclists safe, too. Many motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle are caused by a motorist turning left in front of an approaching motorcycle. Motorists have trained their eyes to look for passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs when checking for dangers, not motorcycles. This “programming” can cause a dangerous phenomenon of looking directly at an approaching motorcycle yet not acknowledging it. Retrain yourself to see and register smaller vehicles as they approach and in your mirrors.
From our entire team at Aizenman Law Group in Tulsa, we wish you the best Motorcycle Safety Month 2021 and beyond! Always be safe when riding and when sharing the road with motorcyclists throughout Oklahoma. If you ever get into a crash that is not your fault, though, then know we are here to help. Free consultations are always offered to inquiring motorcycle accident clients. Call 631-769-8431 today!