Showing Bikers Respect on Our Roads

The National Safety Council has designated May as National Motorcycle Safety Month.  And though its goal is – in-part – an effort to encourage motorists to be more aware of motorcyclists and to drive with their safely in mind, we’re going to take a few moments to again remind bikers how to avoid crashes with larger vehicles. On a per-capita basis, motorcycle accidents occur 27 times more frequently than other vehicle accidents, and bikers are six times more likely to be injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

NHTSA also tells us that 5,286 motorcyclist accident fatalities occurred in 2016. Of that number, 4,603 riders of traditional “street bikes” and 319 of their passengers were killed on roads and highways in the U.S. (total 4,922).

You motorcycle riders know riding is so much fun. But you also know it can be dangerous. It takes balance, coordination, good judgment and total awareness of your surroundings. So we’re sharing some ways to raise the odds that you’ll be around to enjoy riding for many years to come.

Learn How to Ride your Bike and be Properly Licensed

Riding a motorcycle requires different skills and knowledge than driving a car. New York State residents must have a Class M or Class MJ license or a learner’s permit to ride a motorcycle on the street. You must complete a DMV-approved pre-licensing course with your motorcycle learner’s permit, before getting your Class M license. Completing a motorcycle rider education course is a good way to ensure you have the correct instruction and experience it takes to ride a motorcycle. To find a motorcycle rider training course nearest you, contact the New York Department of Motor Vehicles or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at (800) 446-9227.

Become Familiar with your Motorcycle

Take time to get acquainted to the “feel” of a new or unfamiliar motorcycle by riding it in a controlled area. Once accomplished, cautiously ride it in traffic: less-congested streets at first, NOT the LIE or the Van Wyck at 60 mph.  Get comfortable handling your bike in all conditions: inclement weather, slick roads, potholes, and encountering road debris. Familiarize yourself with carrying a passenger; but only after completely comfortable with your motorbike.

Proper Protection

First – New York State has a “helmet law.” Meaning all riders and passengers must wear an approved safety helmet. Even if you don’t like them, helmets save lives! You would be smart to have one with a plastic face shield to protect you from wind, rain, insects, dust, and stones thrown up from cars. If not, a durable pair of goggles will do nicely.

Arms and legs should be completely covered with leather or heavy denim. Boots or shoes should be high enough to cover your ankles, and gloves offer better grip and protect your hands in the event of a crash. Wearing brightly colored clothing makes it easier for other drivers to see you. A brightly colored mesh vest over your clothes is ideal.

Ride Responsibly and Stay Sober

Experienced riders know it’s best to obey traffic lights, signs, speed limits, and lane markings.  Ride with the traffic flow and keep good distance from other vehicles. Ride defensively, keep your eyes moving for other cars, make yourself easy to see, and try to anticipate what other drivers do.  Most multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes happen because other drivers don’t see the biker.

And make sure you are alcohol- and drug-free when you get on your bike. Otherwise, you’ll be heading for trouble.

If you’ve been hit by a negligent driver on your motorcycle, the professionals at Kaplan Lawyers PC are available to answer your legal questions. Contact us to arrange a free case evaluation.