Most of us have the ‘need for speed’ when behind the wheel or on top of a bike. Racing down the road can make anyone feel invincible.
In a car, there’s the buffer of the metal exterior, but a motorcycle is different. With no outer armor or airbags, the only protection is the gear on your body. And if this statistic from the National Safety Council is an indicator, that’s not much protection at all:
Motorcycles make up just 3% of all registered vehicles and less than 1% of total vehicle distance traveled in the U.S., but they are associated with 14% of all traffic fatalities.
In spite of helmet laws and safety campaigns focused on motorcycle driving, motorcycle crashes have increased by 20% over the last decade. Some of this can be attributed to drivers texting behind the wheel and bigger cars that keep drivers from seeing motorcyclists as easily.
Of course, not all accidents are fatal, but they can easily lead to these common injuries:
- Broken/Fractured Bones
- Leg and Foot Injuries
- Head and Neck Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Facial Fractures and Disfigurement
- Spinal Injuries
- Arm and Hand Injuries
- Abdominal Injuries
- Muscle Injuries
- Road Rash
You can’t control other driver’s carelessness, but you can drive defensively with these seven rules:
1. Heed the Speed
Driving too fast is the number one cause of motorcycle accidents. So SLOW DOWN! It will save you from a speeding ticket and give you more time to stop.
2. Look First
Checking left and right could save your life. Failure to yield the right of way means you don’t know what’s coming your way. And it’s very easy for car or truck drivers to miss seeing motorcycles on the road.
Check your surroundings and signal your next move so the other vehicles know where you are heading. Try to identify the hazards so you don’t fall victim to them.
3. All the Gear All the Time
Motorcyclists know this rule as “AT-GAT.” Often, your gear is all that stands between you and another car and you and the road. The right gear includes approved helmets, protective clothing, and face or eye protection. Wear it every time you ride.
Driving without a helmet is inviting a TBI or even a fatality. You may be thinking, “Why should I wear a helmet if it’s not required in Utah.” Utah is indeed a “partial-law state,” which means that helmets are only required for motorcyclists and passengers who are under the age of 21. Even still, wearing a helmet is always the best practice. Helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatalities for motorcycle drivers and nearly 70% effective in preventing head injuries.
Not all helmets are created equal. Make sure that yours meets DOT standards. Most helmets manufactured in the U.S. today meet these standards, but some made in foreign countries may not measure up. And that outdated helmet that’s been sitting in the garage collecting dust may not pass muster either.
Just as driving without a helmet opens the door to brain injuries, driving without protective clothing is inviting road rash and burns. Make sure to wear a long sleeve jacket, pants, boots, and gloves.
4. Stay in Your Lane
While an occasional lane change is necessary, weaving in and out of traffic to try to get ahead is a bad idea. Driving in between lanes (“lane filtering”) or weaving around moving cars and parked cars is a risky practice.
Just because motorcycles are smaller doesn’t mean they can’t be hit. In fact, it means they have a greater risk of not being seen by the other driver as they can easily ride in a vehicle’s blind spot.
Here are the Utah laws for motorcycles and lane use:
- Change lanes before passing a vehicle
- Only two motorcycles can share a lane (side-by-side)
- No “lane filtering” (or driving between lanes) on freeways or roads with a speed limit exceeding 45 MPH
- No lane filtering at speeds higher than 15 MPH
- No lane filtering on roads with less than two traffic lanes heading in the same direction
- When lane filtering, the other vehicles must be stopped
5. Don’t Drink and Drive
This is a horrible idea in a car and an even worse idea on a motorcycle. According to the most recent statistics from the National Safety Council, 27% of all motorcycle operators killed in crashes were under the influence of alcohol.
Consuming alcohol impairs your judgment and slows down your reactions. You could not only harm yourself but others. If you plan to drink, arrange alternate transportation to and from the venue/event.
6. Check the Weather
Road conditions change quickly with rain and snow. Plan ahead and don’t get caught in precipitation. Slippery surfaces increase the amount of time it takes to stop, and you will have a higher chance of losing control in a curve.
7. Keep up with Maintenance
A motorcycle needs more diligent attention than a car. Riding a poorly maintained motorcycle jeopardizes your safety in a myriad of ways. Make sure that you are regularly inspecting your fluids, tires (or “skins”), brakes, brake lights, headlights, taillights, turn signals, mirrors, horn, clutch and throttle.
What if I’ve Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
Keeping these rules can go a long way to ensure your safety, but unfortunately, you’re not the only driver on the road. If you’ve been injured on your motorcycle due to the negligence of another driver, contact our Salt Lake City personal injury attorneys.
If you are dealing with medical bills, pain, trauma, a wrecked bike (or other damaged property), missed days of work, or diminished work capacity due to a motorcycle accident that is the full or partial fault of another driver, contact us today for a consultation.