​Motorcycle Basics: What you need to know before you ride

Motorcycle Insurance

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and with the beautiful weather, we want to ensure your time on the road is safe for you and for others. Motorcycles are fun and fuel efficient, but are also more dangerous than driving a car. While you may be enjoying the excitement of riding one of these fine vehicles, focus on the safety of yourself and those around you. May is not the only month you should be focusing on motorcycle safety. It is important to stay conscious of your actions on the road every single day. Here are tips for motorcyclists and drivers on how to share the road without compromising safety.

Get your motorcycle license

You would be surprised at the amount of motorcyclists on the road driving without a motorcycle license. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 25% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2013 were riding their vehicles without valid motorcycle licenses at the time of the collisions. When riding without a license, you face a possibility of being fined or even banned from riding your motorcycle for a long period of time.

Buy a bike you can handle

Although it is tempting to buy the “baddest and fastest” bike on the market, make sure it is a motorcycle you can handle. Many riders make the mistake of purchasing a bike that is far out of their league, and as a result, end up with some serious injuries. Get a bike that fits you. When seated, you should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground. Handlebars and controls should be easy to reach. If it feels too heavy, it probably is. A smaller model with a 250- to 300-cc engine can make a great starter or commuter bike, while one with an engine in the 500- to 750-cc range is good for the highway to keep up with traffic.

Hone your skills

It is absolutely critical that you should take a motorcycle driving course before taking your bike on the road. You will learn the basics, as well as advanced techniques, such as how to perform evasive emergency maneuvers. Increase your riding confidence and ride without having to second guess your skill level.

Don’t drink and drive

This rule is important for all drivers, whether you are driving a car or a motorcycle. There is no excuse for impaired driving, because it not only puts you in danger, but other drivers on the road as well. Riding a motorcycle is complex and is a task that should take up 100% of your focus. Alcohol is a key contributor to fatal motorcycle crashes. Studies show that 40% to 45% of all riders killed in motorcycle crashes had been drinking. Only 1/3 of those riders had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limits, while the rest had only a few drinks in their systems enough to impair their riding skills.

Wear proper gear

According to government studies, riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash and are three times more likely to suffer brain injuries, than those with helmets. Speeding on a motorcycle puts you on the fast track to injury. It is highly possible for a car to fail to see you or misjudge your speed. Helmets save lives by protecting your skull and brain from irreversible injury if you get into an accident. Modern helmet designs are lightweight and comfortable, helping with wind resistance and fatigue.

NEVER text and drive

The dangers of texting and driving are clear, yet people are still doing it. Lives are in danger with every glance at your phone. Not only are your eyes not on the road, your hands are trying to multitask the operation of a vehicle and also texting. This poses a danger to yourself and everyone on the road around you because your focus has shifted from the road to your phone. The best action to take is to put your phone away. No text is worth a life.