Warm weather and long days mean peak motorcycle season is beginning. While riding is a superb way to experience the outdoors and enjoy great gas mileage, it’s not without risks.
Because motorcycles inherently offer riders less protection than a car, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates motorcyclists are 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash.
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to be safe on a motorcycle, potentially saving yourself and others from injury or death.
Here are some important steps to take when you head out on the open road.
Wear a helmet – even if you don’t have to
Michigan has a lot of motorcyclists – it ranks in the top 10 for states with the highest numbers of motorcycle registrations – and helmets are not required for adults, 21 and older, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
However, legal doesn’t equal safe. Skipping the helmet puts you at a higher risk for injury in a crash. A summary report published by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion found that “helmets were estimated to reduce the risk of death by 42 percent and the risk of head injury by 69 percent.”
Know where accidents occur
About two thirds of all Michigan motorcycle accidents occur when the motorcyclist is driving straight. How is this possible? Because of inattentive drivers.
“The single, most frequent cause of motorcycle/passenger vehicle accidents is due to automobiles turning left in front of motorcycles driving straight,” law firm Goodman Acker says. “Intersections are the most common locations for motorcycle accidents.”
Slow down at intersections if you see vehicles waiting to turn left, and prepare to perform evasive maneuvers, if necessary.
Be aware of blind spots
All motor vehicles have them, but not all drivers are great at checking them. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t see other drivers’ eyes in their sideview mirrors, they can’t see you. Avoid blind spots when possible, and drive through them quickly when passing.
Check driving conditions
Knowing road conditions before a trip could save you more than time and gas, it could save your life. Checking the weather forecast, conditions on mountain passes, construction maps and traffic accident reports. Then, decide if today is a good day for wearing extra safety gear or skipping the motorcycle ride.
Watch for wildlife
Wildlife and cattle are particularly dangerous to motorcyclists, especially as there are 50,000 vehicle-deer crashes every year, according to the Michigan State Police. While a collision between a deer and a car causes damage to the vehicle, a motorcycle-deer collision is likely to have more serious consequences.
The MSP warns drivers that crashes involving deer are common in spring and fall, especially at dawn and dusk. Because deer are herd animals, if you see one, there could be more, and they usually walk in single file across the same stretch of road. In areas with high deer traffic, there are often signs to alert you to the possibility of deer crossing the highway.
Motorcyclists hope to come home safely when they head out on a ride, but it doesn’t always work out that way. If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, call the experts at Goodman Acker for legal advice about your situation.