Safety First: Tips for Safe Motorcycle Riding

Riding a motorcycle is, quite clearly, a whole different experience compared to driving a car. When it comes to safety, there are certain steps that new and experienced riders alike need to take into consideration before they hit the streets that they may not have had to deal with when driving a car. Here are a handful of the most often forgotten and neglected motorcycle riding safety tips that ought to be remembered by drivers more frequently.

Get The Right Footwear

Unlike driving a car, where you can wear basically whatever you want on your feet, it's important to keep certain aspects of motorcycle driving in mind when choosing your footwear for a ride. First of all, open-toed shoes are basically a no-go. This is due to the fact that you shift gears on a motorcycle by flicking your foot upwards and against a metal gear shift. This can make sandals a painful affair. Flip-flops also aren't a good idea; they have a tendency to slip off, which can be dangerous, and they don't bear any protection against the hot exhaust system and engine of the motorcycle. Close-toed shoes or sneakers are a rider's best bet for the sake of safety and comfort when going out for a ride.

Take A Safety Course

A common misconception about motorcycle safety courses is that they only offer basic knowledge that anyone can figure out from common sense. This could not be farther from the truth. Safety courses are designed to teach riders about everything from the most obvious to the most under-appreciated safety techniques for riding a motorcycle. These safety courses are so important that some states even make them mandatory for getting your motorcycle license. Therefore, taking a safety course is nothing to be ashamed of- you're only preparing yourself better for potential unsafe situations and learning how to avoid them altogether. 

Watch For Tailgaters

This one may seem obvious on the surface, but a lot of riders rear-ended because they forget how quickly their motorcyles can brake compared to a car or truck. Any motorcyle can brake quicker than 99% of the vehicles on the road. Look out for those following you to closely in case you need to stop quickly. 

Know The Weather

Motorcycles don't have as much stability and traction as cars. Riding in the rain, while certainly liberating and fun, can be dangerous, and attempting to ride through snow or ice is an even worse decision. Check the weather before you go out to ride. It may seem silly, but it can save you from danger in a big way. 

Practice Defensive Driving

Motorcycle drivers can be fun, and lead to taking chances, like weaving through traffic and speeding past slow-moving cars. However, it's important to remember that a motorcycle can be very hard to see. The same defensive driving tactics you use while driving a car ought to be used while driving a motorcycle.

Your Front Brake Is Your Friend

If you're ever in a situation where you have to brake suddenly, your first inclination may be to step hard on the rear brake, not realizing that the largest percentage of your stopping power comes from your front brake. Slowly squeeze your front brake while being light on the read brake. This combination of braking is highly stressed in rider safety courses.

Wear Gloves - Good Ones

Something that people often forget is that many times, when you fall, you can land on the palms of your hands, since our natural instincts are to reach out to break that fall. That should make this tip a no-brainer. Wear heavy-duty hand protection at all times while riding.

Wear A Helmet!

Yup, we saved the most obvious one for last. And for good reason- it's the one that people follow the least. All riders should wear a helmet at all times. In some states, it's the law. Brain damage is no fun, and while you may never really need a helmet, you're guaranteed to be glad you wore one if you ever do.

With these tips in mind, riders can hit the streets more confidently and more safely. Remember these tips every time you go out to hit the road, and you'll be doing a better job of mitigating the risk of riding.

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T.J. Smith, Attorney at Law
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