With winter in the rearview mirror and gas prices on the rise, roadways are seeing an increase in motorcycle traffic. While a motorcycle’s combination of fun and fuel efficiency make it seem like the perfect transportation alternative, motorcycles also come with greater risk. Studies show that motorcyclists are thirty-five times more likely than a car driver to be killed in an accident. Simply, there are no bumpers, seat belts, or airbags between a biker and another vehicle or the pavement. Therefore, it is of vital importance that drivers take every opportunity to improve their safety while operating a motorcycle.
Something as simple as properly maintaining your motorcycle tires can mean the difference between life and death. Worn or improperly inflated tires can reduce steering responsiveness, cause sliding, and can increase the likelihood of a tire blow-out. Proper maintenance will also help prevent mechanical failure when driving. While a car that suddenly stalls in traffic has the protection of a frame and bumpers, a stalled motorcyclist is vulnerable on all sides.
A motorcyclist’s most important piece of safety equipment is a helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that a motorcyclist without a helmet is 40% more likely to receive a fatal head injury than those wearing one. Helmets can also prevent vision problems from wind or debris. Wearing proper gear like long pants, sturdy closed-toe shoes, gloves and leather jackets are not simply for achieving the biker look. These thick materials both protect riders from the elements as well as stand between your skin and the pavement in the event of a fall.
Using daytime lights are also important in improving your biking safety. With their smaller size, motorcycles are often harder for car and truck drivers to see. The use of lights, even during the day, can catch the eye of a potentially distracted motorist.
Training and Licensing
A motorcycle is a powerful machine capable of causing a great amount of damage. Whether a weekend warrior or a daily commuter, all bike drivers should receive proper instruction and training in a motorcycle’s operation. Additionally, you should obtain any required motorcycle licensing. Doing so will not only help teach you safety skills and traffic laws, you will avoid fines for driving without a license.
A motorcyclist should always know his or her surroundings. State laws on motorcycles can vary, and failure to understand these laws can result in accidents. For instance, while lane sharing, where a motorcycle rides between stopped or slowing cars, is allowed in California, it is illegal in some other states. Assuming this practice is allowed where you ride can put you at risk from drivers who might not expect to find you in that area of the road. Also, though you may easily be able to see a car, quite often you are much harder for them to see. Do not assume, therefore, in areas like intersections or when executing a lane change, that a driver sees you. Attempt to make eye contact before proceeding.
Unfortunately, even the most skilled bike rider is only as safe as the surrounding cars and truck drivers. With approximately 75% of all motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles, a biker must be prepared in the event a collision does occur. Not only should motorcycle owners obtain insurance, they should be aware that just as in a car accident, you may be able to receive compensation if injured in a motorcycle accident. If you have been in a motorcycle accident, contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer who may be able to assist you.
Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.