An Irreverent Guide to Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycle (safety) season is here.

The sun is out, the leaves are green, the water is warm – all reasons to get the bike out, wipe it down, and hit the road.  Whether you ride all year or just for quick trips in great weather, now is the time to enjoy the experience that only your motorcycle and a great ride can give you.  But, as insurance agents, we want to make sure you come back from the ride in one piece.  So let’s talk about motorcycle safety.

I know, I know, no one wants to.  But whether you are hitting the mountains for the Parkway, or heading downhill for a little get-together at the beach, or just going to the store for a loaf of bread, the chances of you having a great time are increased exponentially if you do it safely.  And it’s more than just remember to fill up on gas – though you probably should.  So let’s go over some of the basic things we can do to be safe on the road.

Motorcycle on a prairie road.

Sweet ride.  Wish it had gas.

The Overhead View

How big of a deal is motorcycle safety?  Look at it like this: motorcycles only make up 3% of vehicles that are on the road, but account for 13% of all people killed in traffic accidents.  I’ll let that sink in for a minute.  And it isn’t just young guys out being stupid that are getting hurt.  36% of motorcycle deaths were riders aged 50 and up.  Add all that up and you have a small population of people that are on motorcycles, but they are much more likely to be hurt or killed in traffic accidents, no matter what their age.

Luckily, there are a few things we can do that help prevent us from ending up as a bad statistic.  Starting with that thing that goes on your cranium.

Check Your Head

I’m sure everyone has told you this already.  Your spouse has told you, your co-worker has told you, heck, even usually cool guy in your fantasy football league has told you: wear a helmet.  But it isn’t just that everyone likes telling you what to do – but they totally do.  No, there’s actually science and math that backs this all up, so lets get that.  I promise, no nagging.

Here’s the basics according to the CDC: helmets reduce the risk of dying by 37%.  They reduce the risk of head injury by 69%.  The total economic cost of accidents without helmets is $1 Billion per year.  Crazy right?  Wearing a helmet is the cornerstone of motorcycle safety, and knowing how they work and how to care for them is super important.  Also, never buy a used helmet – any impact such as a crash will use up the structural integrity of the helmet even if it looks the same.  Helmets are useless after they have suffered such an impact, so don’t risk your own head to save a few bucks.

Man thinking about motorcycle safety on a motorcycle.

See Dan, I told you I wear a helmet!  Now trade me Aaron Rodgers.

The Road More Traveled

Lot’s of riders think that regular or “surface” roads are safer than highways and freeways, but the math isn’t on their side.  A whopping 91% of accidents between passenger vehicles and motorcyclists happened on country or urban roads, making highways astoundingly safe by comparison.  And the most dangerous place on these streets for motorcycle safety?  Intersections.  One study found that more than half of all accidents involving a motorcycle occurred at an intersection.  Take care not to speed through them, always stop at stop lights and signs, and pay particular attention to vehicles coming from behind you.

Man with beard and helmet on a motorcycle.

Does my beard count as protective clothing?

No Such Thing As Beginner’s Luck

When it comes to motorcycle safety, being a rookie isn’t a good thing.  It takes more skill to handle these well-built machines out on the road than it does a car or truck, and the time to find that out is not the day you get your first Harley because you always thought they looked cool.  Treat yourself and your motorcycle with the respect it deserves and take a safety course.

Wait, what?  You’re too cool for school?

Well check this out: over 50% of motorcycle accidents involve a newbie with less than five months of riding experience.  Pair that with the fact that over 80% of motorcycle accidents end up with someone being injured or killed, and you can see just how dangerous being a new rider can be.  A new rider has a very good chance of being in an accident and hurt or even killed.  Signing up for a course is a sure fire way to get experience and training before you hit the road.  Some courses even have awesome tracks for you to test out and can teach skills that will put you ahead of your friends who are getting into the bike life with you.

A great resource for courses and what they are like is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Motorcycle in black and white.

Good news: I can handle my ride now.  Bad news: I’m lost.

Fishes Get Stitches

It goes without saying, but that has never stopped us before.  DON’T DRINK AND RIDE.  43% of all fatal motorcycle accidents involved an inebriated rider.   Getting on your bike after you have had a few is simply a throw of the dice, and you or your passenger could pay the price if you come up sevens.  Or almost half of the other possible outcomes.

Another fact from the National Safety Council is about the type of motorcycle you ride.  According to their research, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “‘supersport bikes’ have driver death rates about four times that of cruisers or standard bikes.”  Take care in selecting the right bike for you, and if you do have one of the faster models, make sure you treat it with the care.  Four times more likely to die is no laughing matter.

Motorcycle parked next to scenic view.

What’s with all the black and white photography?

Take It Easy

The main piece of advice here is to treat your motorcycle with respect.  It is a vehicle that requires more skill and care than your average automobile or truck.  So treat them right, take it easy, and make sure you don’t end up as a statistic to be quoted because you got careless.

There are monetary benefits as well to being a safe motorcyclist.  A clean claims history can make a huge difference in your insurance premium, saving you hundreds of dollars a year.  Additionally, higher risk bikes are more expensive to insure, so having a clean record will make a massive difference in you being able to afford taking your new pride and joy out on the road legally.

To find out how motorcycle safety helps you with your insurance rate, call or email us today.  Or fill out the form below to speak with one of our agents ASAP.

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