How Motorcyclists Can Stay Safe on Roads

Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of riding season, but an early spring has invited motorcycle riders out of hibernation. As the riding season continues in earnest, Connecticut drivers will undergo their annual re-learning process on how to share the road with motorcycles.

Continued vigilance is important given the increase in motorcyclists compared to recent years. With gas prices increasing, it is likely that more people will use motorcycles and scooters in order to save money. Motorcyclists can take a number of steps to be protected when they head out on the road. The following article will highlight some helpful tips so riders throughout the state can enjoy another summer of great riding.

Staying Safe on the Road

First, appreciating a bike's power and capabilities is critical. Knowing how a motorcycle accelerates, handles and stops is essential in preventing motorcycle accidents. Of the five most common factors leading to accidents, excessive speed and failure to control were the top two contributors. As such, riders should attend an instruction course certified by the state and be properly licensed before riding on public roads. Safety classes may provide hours of classroom instruction and on-cycle instruction on various aspects of safe operation, including: turning, shifting and braking; street strategies, and emergency situations.

Following Traffic Rules

Obeying applicable traffic laws is critical. Riders should be aware of speed limits and how traffic may affect how they may ride. It is no coincidence that most fatal accidents occur between 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; especially during rush hour, when traffic is heaviest. Because of this, riding between lanes of stopped traffic should be avoided. However, if traffic slows suddenly, staying to the left or right of the car in front of you is helpful. This can provide an escape route if needed. Road conditions are also important, since 90 percent of all motorcycle accidents occurred on dry pavement. However, remnants of winter sand and salt can make curves dangerous.

Don't Drink and Ride

Just like drinking and driving is dangerous for drivers, it is even more hazardous for motorcycle riders. Since alcohol impairs your judgment and awareness, it is easy to take more risks and execute dangerous maneuvers. Motorcycle riders do not have the protections offered by other types of motor vehicles, and any accident could have extremely serious consequences.

Be Seen By Other Drivers

Another way to stay safe is to be seen by other drivers. Cyclists unfortunately need to presume that other drivers will not be able to see them, and take several steps to potentially improve visibility. Therefore, using headlights at all times and staying clear of drivers' blind spots can keep riders safe. When riding on a state highway or interstate, never position yourself between a vehicle and a freeway exit. Drivers exiting at the last minute kill a number of riders each year, and riders should avoid crossing in front of a car to reach an exit ramp.

Wear Your Helmet

Most importantly, all motorcycle riders should wear helmets. The proper helmet can prevent debilitating brain injuries, and also help riders and their passengers avoid concussions in minor crashes. Further, studies conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association that helmets reduce the likelihood of fatalities by 37 percent, and are highly effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries. Conversely, riders without helmets are three times more likely suffer such injuries, which commonly lead to lifelong disabilities.

Legal Liability

Despite the best intentions, accidents still happen. In these situations, it is helpful to know how the law works. Ultimately, both drivers and motorcyclists have a duty to use reasonable care in operating their vehicles. This means that due care should be used in seeing each other, driving at safe and appropriate speeds, and sharing the road. Cell phone violations, aggressive driving, or drunk driving could be viewed as a breach of that duty (because these actions create unreasonable safety risks for other drivers, including motorcyclists). If found negligent, a driver could be held liable for the injuries and property damage stemming from an accident.

The preceding is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions about your rights and options after a motorcycle accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you.