motorcycle safety

Motorcycle Riding Safety

motorcycle rider

Now that the weather has warmed up, motorcycle riding season has begun!  If you’re a bike owner, you know that cruising on the open road with the wind in your hair can be an exciting experience, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.  We’ve come up with a few tips to keep in mind so that you can be as safe as possible on the road.  Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a new rider, it’s always helpful to have a reminder of some basic safety tips!

  • Get your bike ready!  It’s been a long and cold winter, and your bike may need a few adjustments to get it rider ready.  You’ll want to check the oil and fuel levels, make sure the headlights and turn signals are all working, and check all cables to make sure they’re not frayed.
  • Get yourself some good gear.  Having the right gear for riding a motorcycle is extremely important.  When you’re on the back of a bike, there’s not much between you and the pavement, which is why having the right gear is so important, especially if you were to ever crash.  Wearing leather is your best bet, bikers don’t just wear it for style, it’s for protection too.  Leather is extremely tough and durable, and in the event of an accident it’s strong enough to protect your skin from the road surface.  It’s also a good idea to get non-slip gloves and boots that cover your ankles.
  • Wear a helmet!  For starters, it’s the law here in Massachusetts that all motorcycle riders need to wear a helmet.  This is the most important safety tip to remember when it comes to motorcycle riding.  Your head needs to be protected in the event of an accident, and not just any helmet will help with that.  Look for a helmet that has been approved by the Department of Transportation, and ideally one with a face shield to protect your face from bugs and gravel.  You also need to make sure that it fits properly and doesn’t obstruct your vision.  Having a good helmet can mean the difference between life and death if you’re in an accident, so make sure you take the time to find the right one!
  • Watch the weather. Before you go out for a ride, you need to make sure heavy snow and rain aren’t in the forecast.  Riding on a motorcycle is much less stable than riding in a car, and not to mention the fact that you’ll be directly exposed to the elements.  We suggest opting for a car or staying indoors if that’s not an option.  If you must take your bike out in the rain, make sure to leave extra space between your bike and the car in front of you should you need to stop.
  • Know your limits.  You need to not only know your bike’s limit, but you need to know your own limits as a rider.  Becoming an expert rider takes time and experience to build those skills, and if you’re a new rider you may not be able to quickly weave in and out of traffic or maneuver your bike on extremely windy roads.  Take time to build up to these skills and even consider taking an advanced riding course, many motorcycle dealerships offer them and they’re a good way to practice your skills in a controlled setting.
  • Always follow the rules of the road.  From going the speed limit, to always using turn signals, the rules of the road are there to protect you and your fellow drivers, so follow them.  Don’t weave in and out of lanes, and always make sure you’re leaving enough room between yourself and the car in front of you in case you need to brake suddenly.  Make sure your fellow drivers can see you and you’re not riding in their blind spot.
  • Make sure you look twice.  Before changing lanes, crossing an intersection, or going through a light, make sure to look twice before you cross.  Other cars may have difficulty seeing motorcycles since they are smaller, so always double check before you hit the gas.

Motorcyclists are exposed to more dangers than the typical driver, but if you keep these tips in mind and drive responsibly you’ll stay as safe as possible on the road.

Photo By: Rob Swyston

Check Twice Save A Life – Motorcylists are Everywhere

As the snow melted and floods subsided, March’s beautiful weather lured motorcyclists out early this riding season, a drastic change from last year when many motorcyclists did not ride until July. As of last September 182,215 motorcycles were registered in Massachusetts, which may sound impressive until it’s placed side by side with the 4.3 million cars also registered.

Today marks the end of Motorcycle safety week as proclaimed by Governor Deval Patrick. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles sponsors the Mass Rider Education Program, providing training, materials, new Rider Coach training and promotional and technical assistance to a statewide network of training sites. Numerous motorcycle safety courses are available for beginners and advanced riders throughout Massachusetts. For more information on safety courses visit the motorcycle safety page of the Massachusetts RMV website.

Driving through many areas of Massachusetts it’s difficult to miss the yellow signs with black writing, “Check Twice, Save a Life. Motorcycles are everywhere.” Originally thought up by Bob Doiron in 1982 the stickers and signs have caught a wave of popularity across the state. Doiron, a founder of the  Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA), has now retired and transferred the rights of the “Check Twice” signs to Paul Cote of Amesbury, a fellow motorcycle activist. Both Doiron and Cote have fought for motorcyclist rights however above all, for their safety. Think to look twice before switching lanes or making a sharp turn, as the signs say – it may just save a life.

According to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, an accident with a motorcycle is more likely when:

  • Making a left turn in front of a rider.
  • A motorcyclist is riding in your blind spot.
  • There are hazardous road conditions such as potholes, wet leaves, railroad tracks, and other obstructions that may force a motorcyclist to ride in a way you would not otherwise predict.
  • You have an obstructed line of sight. Sport utility vehicles, delivery vans, and large trucks and those with cars too full of cargo may block motorcyclists from your view.
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