May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month Tips
May is Motorcycle Awareness Month for the whole United States. Being that I personally know people who have been injured or killed by drivers while riding, I wanted to share some reminders.
Look twice for motorcycles
Sharing the road with motorcycles isn't that difficult, it just takes a little more attentiveness on the part of a vehicle driver. Think about not only looking twice, but maybe even a third time. Even larger touring motorcycles are smaller than cars and can be harder to see in your mirrors.
Keep extra distance from motorcycles
A lot, if not most motorcycles have manual transmissions and sometimes riders rely on engine braking to slow them down, especially when coming up to stop signs or traffic lights. This means you might not see those brake lights so keeping some extra distance gives you more space in case they have to stop abruptly.
Think of how the motorcycle rider feels
A motorcycle rider for sure makes a choice to ride something offering less protection than a car. Even if you personally don't ride, imagine if you chose too and someone was tailgating you, or swerving into your lane while texting or not paying attention. It's not a fun feeling when you're on a bike, so keep that in mind.
Motorcycles get the whole lane
Whatever lane a rider is in, they get the full run on their area. You might see a motorcycle riding the center line or jumping around in their lane. Often, it's because of the road's condition. Things like cracks, bumps, tar strips, or even debris might be a cause for this. So don't worry about what they are doing in their lane, just stay out of it.
After some thoughts for drivers, how about for riders? As a rider I fully acknowledge there are some real bonehead riders that give motorcyclists a bad name. You know, the rider that thinks because they have a motorcycle, they own the road. There are plenty of those, so don't be that individual.
Don't tailgate automobiles
You hate it when drivers tailgate you, correct? Don't be like them. I know many people who ride and practice that exact automobile driver behavior they hate, but somehow think it's okay for a bike to do it. Newsflash, tailgating automobiles makes even us halfway respectful motorcycle riders look bad.
Be as visible as possible on your motorcycle
Yeah, darker colors and less reflective materials might look cooler, but it hinders your visibility. In a lot of motorcycle accidents, the driver of the automobile will state something along the lines of 'I didn't see the bike'. Companies are now making a lot of actually decent looking reflective riding gear, as well as reflectors to replace those ugly orange ones that have a darker tone, making the bike look better but help keep you visible.
Gear up when riding your motorcycle
I'm all about personal choices and when it comes to things like a helmet, I didn't wear one for years. Even a half shell Snell certified DOT Helmet can greatly decrease damage to your head if you are in an accident. A popular saying is 'all the gear, all the time' or ATGATT. I personally don't do this, but this isn't about me, it's about what will make you as safe as possible on your bike. This means riding with a helmet, gloves, boots, jacket, and pants. As far as the clothing end of it, consider even motorcycle specific items designed to keep you safer if you go for a slide. Tobacco Motorwear Company makes some of the gear I'm referring to.
As we all know, enough automobile drivers don't like to pay attention. Inattentiveness happens to motorcycle riders too. Things like messing with music on your phone or your GPS can distract you from what you should be doing, riding. Not just riding but paying attention to other people not paying attention. Don't let the same actions that distract car drivers distract you.
After some of my thoughts for motorcycle safety for Motorcycle Awareness Month, what would you add to the list?