Any motor vehicle accident will be traumatic, but motorcycle accidents are, without a doubt, more dangerous than average accidents for bikers. Motorcycle riders don’t have the protection cars, trucks, and SUVs provide passengers. That means riders face a far greater chance of being injured, or even killed, in an accident. However, there are strategies both to prevent an accident and to survive one.
Understanding the Odds
According to NHTSA, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in an accident than car passengers. In addition, most motorcycle accidents will result in injuries. That means motorcycle owners must take extraordinary precautions to avoid accidents. In the event a biker is involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s vitally important to discuss the incident with an attorney as quickly as possible. That’s especially true when the bike owner is injured, as the attorney will protect the motorcyclist’s rights and ability to recover damages.
Safe Riding Reduces the Odds of an Accident
Every motorcyclist is encouraged to take motorcycle safety classes before venturing out on the road. There are specific strategies bikers can use to reduce their chances of being in an accident. Avoiding an accident is always preferable, and taking a few precautions can keep a ride from ending tragically. Here are a few rules safety experts recommend.
- Always wear a helmet. Many states have laws in place requiring riders to wear helmets. While not everyone agrees helmets should be mandatory, the statistics are clear-helmets save lives.
- Wear all the gear all the time. Road rash is not pleasant, but wearing appropriate protective gear (in addition to a helmet) reduces injuries. That means wearing jackets, pants, boots, and gloves designed for motorcyclists. Protective apparel is designed to protect riders (or bike passengers) in the event of a fall or another type of accident. Many jackets and pants, for example, include ballistic materials that prevent road rash.
- Ride defensively. Many accidents occur because the drivers of larger vehicles fail to see motorcycles. Bikers must always be alert to the actions of other drivers and should assume those drivers don’t see them. Motorcyclists should try to make eye contact with other drivers if there is any question of their not seeing the bike. Use extra caution in all driving situations.
- Check the bike carefully before riding. Look for issues like tire damage, malfunctioning lights, or controls that are not operating correctly. If there is a problem, don’t ride the bike until the issue is corrected. Even though replacing a headlight will delay your ride, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Don’t ride when tired or upset. A rider’s state of mind is important, and riding when tired or distracted for any reason prevents the cyclist from paying attention to what they’re doing.
There are numerous other strategies that can make riding a motorcycle safer. Taking advantage of continuing education and riding skills improvement classes is always recommended, as skilled riders are less likely to be involved in accidents.
Surviving a Crash
Safety training to avoid accidents is incredibly important, but there are times when avoiding an accident isn’t possible. However, when an accident can’t be avoided, there are ways to minimize the odds of suffering serious injuries. Many riding courses teach riders how to fall or deal with an accident, but the basics always include:
- Knowing how to brake correctly. Stopping quickly may well help a motorcyclist avoid an accident. At the very least, correct braking will reduce the severity of an impact. Safety classes teach riders how to brake effectively, but even riders who haven’t yet had the opportunity to take a course can learn a lot about their bike’s braking capabilities by practicing hard braking in a safe environment. Parking lots and lightly traveled back roads provide places to learn about a bike’s braking characteristics. Learn how a bike responds to sudden, hard braking on a variety of surfaces. That’s especially true if you ride on gravel roads or in harsh weather conditions. Rain and gravel dramatically change how a bike behaves under hard braking, so practice, practice, practice.
- Selecting your escape route or crash point. Riders frequently have time to alter their direction prior to a crash. That means they can choose a strategy that will reduce the odds of injuries. Most importantly, take action to prevent a head-on collision, as that’s the most dangerous option available.
- Learning how to slide. A high percentage of bike accidents end up with the bike sliding. Again, there are motorcycle safety classes that help riders prepare for a slide. In most instances, not tensing up will leave the rider with fewer injuries. That’s hard to do, but is an absolute must. This type of scenario is also where wearing the correct protective gear will help.
- Rolling correctly. Self-defense experts always teach students how to roll to avoid injuries when falling. The same strategies can be used to minimize the odds of suffering severe injuries during an accident. Again, many riding and safety schools promote specific ways to roll after an accident.
The odds of suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident are high, but there are ways to mitigate those odds. Taking safety classes that focus on real-life riding skills is always an important option to consider. Bikers who take the time to improve their riding skills will always be better prepared to deal with an accident should one occur.
Dealing With the Aftermath of an Accident
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, the first step is always to evaluate any injuries and call 911 for help. In most cases, don’t try to move around or take care of other issues until you’re evaluated by an EMT. When possible, collect information from witnesses and anyone else involved in the accident. However, your safety is always more important than getting information or taking pictures. If you’re injured, have the police or someone you know gather the necessary information.
Once your injuries are taken care of, take the time to contact an attorney for advice. Never provide more information than necessary to anyone until you’ve had the opportunity to review the events with an attorney.