Motorcycles are gas-friendly and economical options for a daily commute to work or school. They’re also a thrilling way to enjoy the open air and open road. But the same open, 2-wheeled design that makes a motorcycle ride so exhilarating also leaves motorcycle riders vulnerable to deadly injuries and fatalities in accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2021 were motorcyclists, the highest number of motorcycle accident deaths since they began recording data in 1975. Motorcycle deaths increased by 5% between 2020 and 2021, and averaged 24 times the mortality rate of those in passenger cars.
But do the scary statistics mean you should permanently park your bike? According to experienced motorcycle accident attorneys in Atlanta, there are some tips motorcyclists can follow to minimize their risks while riding.
Motorcycle safety begins before you ride, by choosing a motorcycle that’s appropriate for your size, weight, and experience level. Choosing a motorcycle that’s a good match for your physical size and strength is crucial to ensure a safe, comfortable ride. Not only is it important to choose a bike that’s the right size and one with speeds and controls you can easily manage, but it’s also essential to choose the right type of motorcycle for the kind of riding you intend to do. For instance, there’s no reason to choose a cruiser when a touring bike is more appropriate for the way you plan to use your bike.
Not only is it a great idea to take and pass a motorcycle safety course to learn the basics of riding, the rules of the road, and safety tips, but many states require passing a course in order to obtain a motorcycle license. Motorcycle safety courses must have approval by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Being properly licensed before riding is required by law and a safety course is an important first step.
Not every state requires a full-faced helmet to ride a motorcycle and three U.S. states have no helmet laws in place at all; however, protecting yourself from head injuries by wearing a full-faced helmet is inarguably a life-saving decision no matter what laws exist or don’t exist in your state. Helmets place a cushion and protective shell between a rider’s head and the road or other obstacles and a face shield protects the eyes, nose, mouth, and facial features from injury and potential disfigurement from road rash. A face shield also protects the eyes from dust and debris during the ride so your vision doesn’t become impaired. Full-face helmets also protect the chin, a common area of impact in motorcycle accidents.
In states lacking universal helmet laws, 55% of fatally injured bikers weren’t wearing helmets compared to only 9% in states with helmet requirements.
Armored motorcycle pants, chaps, leather jackets, and high boots aren’t just to look cool—that’s just a pleasant bonus. This gear helps to protect the skin from road rash during a motorcycle crash. When the skin encounters asphalt, tar, or gravel roads at high-speed impacts, it can cause painful, disfiguring road rash that also leaves the motorcyclist vulnerable to infection. Road rash is similar to severe burns and can cause permanent scarring.
While only 3% of motorcycle accidents in 2021 were attributable to rain, snow, or other inclement weather conditions, this statistic is skewed by the fact that few riders venture out in inclement weather and save the rides for sunny days. However, it’s important to check the weather before your ride so you don’t unexpectedly find yourself caught out in dangerous riding conditions.
Rigidly adhering to traffic laws and rules of the road can prevent many rider-caused motorcycle accidents. These traffic laws apply to motorcycles just as they do to 4-wheeled passenger vehicles. A commonly cited safety standard for riders is to always assume a driver cannot see you and to ride accordingly. Experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyers have handled numerous motorcycle accident cases in which the most common admission of driver fault after a motorcycle accident is “I never saw him (or her).”
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