Motorcycle riders continue to be overrepresented in fatal traffic crashes. In 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists died. To keep everyone safe, we urge drivers and motorcyclists to share the road and be alert, and we're reminding motorcyclists to make themselves visible, to use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets, and to always ride sober.
Safety Topic 1
How a Helmet Should Fit
Here’s what the Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends.
• Holding the helmet by the chin straps, spread the sides slightly and pull it down on your head.
• The helmet may feel a bit tight at first, but it should sit snugly and squarely on your head, with the cheek pads touching your cheeks comfortably and with no gaps between your temples and the brow pads.
• Press on the chinpiece to be sure the helmet and face shield aren’t touching your nose or chin.
• Fasten the straps securely and try to move the helmet around (side to side, up and down) with your hand. You should feel your skin moving with the helmet, but not the helmet moving around on your head. Also try rolling the helmet forward off of your head; it should stay on securely.
• Once you remove the helmet, see if your head feels sore, and check for any red spots on your forehead. These are signs that it’s too tight, which can cause headaches after the helmet has been on for a while.
• New helmets will loosen up as the comfort liner compresses, so make sure that if the helmet is new, it’s tight without being uncomfortable.
Safety Topic 2
MAKE SURE YOU ARE PROPERLY LICENSED
Driving a car and riding a motorcycle require different skills and knowledge. Although motorcycle-licensing regulations vary, all states require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver's license. To receive the proper endorsement in most states, you'll need to pass written and on-cycle skills tests administered by your state's licensing agency. Some states require you to take a state-sponsored rider education course. Others waive the on-cycle skills test if you've already taken and passed a state-approved course. Either way, 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. Contact your state motor vehicle administration to find a motorcycle rider-training course near you.
Of the motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2019, 30% were riding without valid motorcycle licenses
Safety Topic 3
What can riders do to share the road more safely? Check out these motorcycle riding safety tips:
1. Wear a helmet!
Hopefully you already have this one covered… no pun intended! A helmet is essential for safe riding. Helmets are your best defense against a serious brain injury should you get in a motorcycle accident. Not all states require that you wear a helmet, but you should. Make sure it fits securely and is up to the highest safety standards.
2. Get comfortable with your motorcycle.
Each motorcycle is unique, so if you’ve upgraded or gotten a new one, you should take some time to try it out and get familiar with its quirks in a controlled environment. Spend some time getting to know how your motorcycle handles turns, your weight, and familiarize yourself with where all its bells and whistles are located, so you won’t be fishing around during a ride!
3. Check your bike before every ride.
A quick check to ensure everything is in working order will save you from starting a doomed trip. Check your tires (their pressure and depth), turn signals, hand and foot brakes, as well as and your fluid levels before departing from home. After that, a quick look to ensure nothing is leaking and you’ll be ready to ride.
4. Ride defensively.
Do not assume you can be seen by drivers on the road. Motorcycles are smaller than cars and you can easily slip into a driver’s blind spot. Keep your lights on while riding and try to wear bright or reflective clothing.
When riding, do so defensively. This means giving yourself plenty of room to make turns and change lanes, driving within the speed limit and assuming drivers won’t be able to see what you’re doing. Recklessly cutting in front of cars could land you in the hospital… or worse.
5. Obey the rules of the road.
The best way to stay safe is to ride as safely as possible! Follow all lane markings, posted signs and speed limits. Yield to those who have the right of way and avoid speeding and cutting off others - you never know when road conditions could change.
6. Be aware of the weather.
Changes in weather can be dangerous for motorcycles, as slippery roads can cause you to lose control. Be aware of conditions for the day before you set out, and have a plan for what to do if the weather worsens.
Motorcycle Safety Tips for Car Drivers
What can drivers do to share the road more safely? Check out these safety tips for drivers:
1. Beware your blind spots.
Motorcycles are smaller than cars so they can be doubly as difficult to see when turning or switching lanes. Be sure to make a visual check as well as use your mirrors when turning or merging.
Confession: during my driving test, there was a moment with a motorcycle. As I was about to turn out of the parking lot (yep, right at the beginning of my test), a motorcycle snuck up alongside the row of traffic. I was so hyper-focused on the task at hand, I didn’t even notice! Luckily for me, I wasn’t driving alone, so my attention was called to the rider. Since he was being sneaky it did not cause me to fail, thankfully. However, it was a good lesson that your blind spots can truly be blind.
2. Slow down behind motorcycles.
Motorcycles don’t handle the road the same way as cars, and can be much more sensitive to changes on the road. Motorcycles can also maneuver much faster than cars can, so slow your roll to make sure you have time to react.
3. Don’t tailgate.
Leaving room between you and a motorcycle in front of you is essential to helping prevent accidents. Giving yourself room will give you time and space to react if the motorcyclist makes a quick, unexpected turn.
4. Use your turn signals.
Regardless of whether motorcycles are on the road or not, you should use your turn signals to help others on the road anticipate your next move.
5. Dim your headlights.
High beams are more blinding for motorcyclists, so it is important to be sure to dim them when you pass them on the roads at night.
6. Be careful taking left turns.
With any turns, be aware of motorcycles on the road and how fast they are going if you are turning. Left turns can be particularly dangerous due to your blind spots.