As the long cold and rainy spring of 2018 fades into memory, motorcycle riders across the Commonwealth are taking out their bikes and getting ready for a glorious season of riding. However, the unfortunate truth is that motorcycle accidents can and do happen. Here are some thoughts about how to increase your chance to have a safe and happy motorcycle season.
- Make sure your ride is ready. Like any vehicle, motorcycles need maintenance. Before taking your motorcycle on the road, check your oil, brakes and tires to make sure that they are in proper condition. Worn brake pads and tires can make an accident more likely and make it more difficult to avoid an accident in the first place. A small investment now may avoid large problems later.
- Make sure you are ready. Are your skills polished and up to date? If you have not ridden in a while, your skills and reflexes may have diminished. Your first rides of the year are no time to challenge yourself. Please consider taking your initial 2018 rides in good weather, on uncrowded roads, and when you are rested and alert. Consider a class or professional training if it’s been a while since you’ve been on the road.
- Proper gear is essential. While the wind in your hair may seem appealing, remember that you’ve only been issued the one head, and you’d best take good care of it. Similarly, long sleeves and long pants made of proper materials may literally save your skin. Your chances of surviving an accident with minimal injury increase dramatically with proper clothing and gear.
- Remember that you may see automobiles before they see you. Don’t assume that an automobile driver has you and your bike in their field of vision. A brightly colored helmet or jacket may increase your visibility. Beware of blind spots and try to avoid them, or spend as little time in them as possible.
- Check your insurance. Is your motorcycle properly covered? Unlike car insurance in Pennsylvania, motorcycle insurance does not include payment of medical expenses. Your personal medical insurance will have to cover your motorcycle-related injuries, so make sure you have medical insurance that is adequate to the task.
- Remember that a collision that is a fender-bender to a car can result in serious injury or death to a motorcycle rider. There is no metal box around a motorcyclist to absorb impact and no seat belt to keep the ride from being thrown. Even a minor motorcycle accident can result in serious injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, and brain damage.
- Don’t Assume What Other Drivers Will Do. It is far better to avoid an accident than to have to play the “blame game” afterwards. It is therefore recommended that motorcyclists assume that drivers of other vehicles may be distracted or inattentive. Be wary of cars making or that may unexpectedly make left turns, for such turns are a frequent cause of accidents. Don’t assume that a car is turning just because its turn signal is on, or that a car is stopping because it is approaching a red light or stop sign. Watch the other drivers; if another driver’s body language does not indicate that they driver has seen you and your motorcycle, be ready to move or take evasive action.