If you are a motorcycle enthusiast living in the Seattle area, you know that you can ride your bike year-round, or at least 10 months out of the year. Yet, some don’t want to battle the colder weather or potential icy roads during the winter months, so they wait until spring to break out their bike for the summer. This makes May the perfect time to think about motorcycle safety. Fortunately, most bikers ride safely, and when they are involved in an accident, it’s often caused by another motorist.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission estimates that motorcycle accidents account for 15 percent of traffic fatalities and almost 20 percent of severe injuries in crashes. An average of 75 bikers die each year on Washington’s roads and highways. Whether you’ve been riding for years or weeks, it’s important to remain focused on safety for your own protection. Below are some tips to help you avoid accidents while you commute to work or take a joy ride to enjoy the picture-perfect landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.
Know Your Bike
One of the best ways to keep you safe on the road is knowing how to handle your bike. This is a learned skill that only gets better as you ride more. It’s important that you have a motorcycle that fits your body, which means you should be able to put both feet flat on the ground and reach your handlebars. You should also make sure your bike isn’t too heavy for you. Assuming your motorcycle is a good fit for you, hone your skills by taking a rider’s safety class. You can find classes for all levels from beginning to advanced. The Washington State Department of Licensing lists multiple locations throughout the state, including three locations in Seattle.
Get the Right Gear
As you are cruising around on your motorcycle, only your gear separates you from the road if you get in an accident. The right gear helps reduce injuries and might even prevent them in some cases. Washington law requires all bikers to wear helmets. Keep in mind that helmets don’t last forever; exposure to oil and chemicals from hair products cause them to wear slowly overtime. The Snell Memorial Foundation, a world-respected non-profit organization who independently researches and tests helmets, suggests you replace your helmet at least every five years.
In addition to protecting your head, you need the right gear to protect your eyes and feet. Even if your bike has a windshield, you should wear a helmet with a face shield, sunglasses, or goggles to keep debris out of your eyes while riding. Eye protection also keeps the rain out of your eyes, something you will most likely experience at some point when cruising around Seattle. Rain can also cause your feet to slip, so invest in good motorcycle boots to give you traction and protect your feet from getting wet.
The right protective clothing keeps you safe in two ways. First, leather and padded gear protect you from the elements and from road rash if you get in an accident. Second, when you buy clothing and gear in bright colors, you make yourself visible to others on the road which prevents accidents.
Ride Your Motorcycle Defensively
Aggressive motorcycle drivers who take chances are more likely to be involved in an accident, and even those who drive carefully face the risk of an accident. Riding defensively helps you anticipate and prevent hazards and dangerous situations that might lead to injury or fatality. The following tips will help you drive defensively on your next motorcycle ride:
- Continuously scan the road for hazards which might include debris, sand, pebbles, tree branches, and potholes, so you can avoid them. If you don’t have the space or time to drive around the hazard, reduce your speed as much as you can.
- Leave ample space and time for you to respond to other vehicles on the road and also leave enough time and space for them to respond to you. Following too closely on a bike or being followed too closely might be disastrous. If a vehicle is too close behind you, you need to move to the side and let them pass.
- Ride in the most visible area of a lane and avoid the blind spots of other vehicles, so drivers who haven’t cleared their blind spots don’t run into you while changing lanes or turning.
- Avoid riding in bad weather; wet roads and high winds make for dangerous roads. Yet, biking in the rain is bound to happen on occasion. If you get caught in the rain, ride on a dry line. The tires from the car in front of you plow the water away and leave a dry line that will give you more traction.
- Use your turn signals, and horn if necessary, to let other motorists know your intentions.
- Only pass vehicles when absolutely necessary, and make sure the driver sees you.
- Avoid riding your bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you feel fatigued.
- Slow down for curves and bends in the road.
- Keep an eye out for distracted drivers on their phone, eating, reaching in their back seat, or partaking in any activity that interrupts their focus on the road.
Avoid quick braking because it might cause you to skid. Many high-end models come standard with anti-lock brakes, but if you have a low-end model or an older bike, consider investing in anti-lock brakes. Sometimes a vehicle or hazard in front of you forces you to suddenly brake, anti-lock brakes will help you avoid an accident or dumping your bike after a skid.
Get the Help You Need After a Motorcycle Accident
Even when you know your motorcycle well, wear the proper gear, and following defensive driving tips, you still might sustain an injury in a motorcycle accident. Washington law permits you to seek damages in court to recover medical costs, lost wages, and non-economic damages, but you need the guidance of a skilled motorcycle accident attorney to increase your chances of a successful settlement or verdict in your favor. Contact the skilled legal team at Boohoff Law online or call at (877) 999-9999 for a free consultation if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident.