Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating, but dangerous. Because of their smaller profile, motorcycles are harder to see than other vehicles. When accidents do occur, the consequences can be far more serious. Follow these tips to stay safe on your motorcycle.
1. Wear a Helmet
Before 1998, Kentucky had a "universal helmet" law, under which every cyclist and passenger needed a helmet. Under current Kentucky law, not every motorcyclist is required to wear a helmet, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't wear one. Helmets save lives - more than 1,700 per year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries for motorcyclists (41 percent effective for their passengers).
2. Be Visible
Help other motorists see you more easily by wearing bright or reflective colors. Keeping your bike's headlight on, day or night, can also help make you more visible, lowering the risk of an accident. In a New Zealand study of motorcycle habits and accident data, drivers wearing reflective or fluorescent clothing had a 37 percent lower risk of accident. And it's not just clothing: those wearing white helmets instead of black helmets had a 24 percent lower risk.
3. Embrace Technology
You can make riding a motorcycle safer by harnessing the power of technology. Today's bikes offer riders electronic throttle controls, adaptive headlights, liquid-cooled engines, stability control tools, and helmets equipped with GPS connectivity. Motorcyclists whose bikes have anti-lock brakes (ABS) are statistically safer, too: an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that the rate of fatal crashes is 31 percent lower for bikes with ABS.
4. Be Proactive
While everyone on the road should obey the rules, don't assume that other drivers are looking out for you. Leave enough room between your motorcycle and the vehicles around it. And, of course, obey traffic laws yourself. A study by AAA reports that more than 35% of motorcyclists involved in accidents were speeding.
5. Don't Drink and Drive
Finally, never drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, being alcohol-impaired is a factor in more than 40 percent of single-vehicle motorcycle accident deaths. Riding a motorcycle requires a specific skill-set; mood-altering substances make it more difficult to control your bike and to react nimbly when necessary. That delayed reaction time can have devastating consequences.
If an accident occurs, seek medical treatment immediately. Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s), get a copy of the police report, and contact your insurance company. You should also contact an attorney. Filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit can help protect your rights and can provide funds to help pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.