Motorcycling Safety Tips to Reduce Injuries

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
November 26, 2019

Riding a motorcycle is considerably more dangerous than driving a car or a truck. According to government statistics, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to suffer a fatal crash per mile traveled than car drivers.

This alarming statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should not put people off riding a motorcycle, but it does make the case for riders to take safety tips seriously.

Every day on the roads of Virginia, a motorcyclist is killed or injured due to the fault of another driver. Often, drivers make turns without seeing an oncoming rider or they suddenly change lanes. The injuries sustained by motorcyclists can be very serious. It’s important to recover as much money as you possibly can. An experienced Virginia trial lawyer at the Smith Law Center will represent your rights and fight for what you deserve.

How Can Virginia Motorcyclists Protect Themselves?

Drivers are unpredictable. They often weave across lanes. They may be distracted or drunk. Motorcyclists lack the metal frame of a car for protection. Although wearing a helmet will increase your chances of avoiding serious injury, it’s no guarantee you won’t suffer a serious or life-threatening brain injury.

As a rider, you should drive defensively and anticipate the movements of other vehicles. You should also maximize protection by wearing the correct clothing.

Top Virginia safe motorcycling tips include:

1. Wear a helmet with protective eyewear.

Motorcycle helmets can and do save lives on a regular basis. It’s also the law to wear a motorcycle helmet in Virginia.

In 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a paper that suggested wearing a helmet is 37 percent effective in saving the lives of riders.

The research was based on a comparison of fatal crashes involving motorcycles with two riders, at least one of whom was killed. The National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the NHTSA carried out painstaking research on this issue.

Although the research is over a decade old, its findings remain valid.  In 2003, there were 3,661 rider deaths in motorcycle crashes. An effectiveness of 37 percent for helmets means a further 1,158 additional motorcyclists would have died if they were not wearing helmets.

States such as Pennsylvania that repealed their motorcycle safety laws saw a large increase in hospitalizations of motorcyclists in the years following the move.

Eyewear is important on a motorcycle because debris can fly into the face of riders on the road or bad weather can affect your eyesight. If you don’t have a visor on your helmet, use goggles.

2. Wear Protective Clothing

While a helmet is the most important piece of equipment a rider can wear, other protective clothing can increase your odds of avoiding serious injury or death in a crash.

It’s important for riders to wear a proper motorcycling jacket. The “Hurt Report” compiled by the National Technical Information Service in Virginia suggested motorcyclists should protect themselves with leather or another abrasion-resistant fabric.

You should also wear leather or abrasion-resistant fabric pants. This can reduce the risk of road rash if your legs scrape along the pavement. Gloves and footwear are also important. These can protect riders from the elements. You should never ride a bike with flimsy footwear such as flip-flops.

3. Avoid Bad Weather

Many studies suggest more cars and trucks are involved in crashes in wet weather or icy conditions. The risks are exacerbated on a motorcycle, which has less stability. If rain, ice or snow are forecast you should leave your bike at home. That’s easier said than done in the summer in Virginia when sudden and extreme storms can hit. High winds and driving rain can overturn a motorcycle or impact your grip on the road’s surface. If you see storm clouds ahead, pull over and get back on the road when the rain has stopped.

4. Take a safety course

Riding a motorcycle safely is a lot more difficult than driving a car. It makes sense for beginners to take a course. In Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles lists classes for novice and experienced riders including courses here in Hampton at Thomas Nelson Community College.

5. Ride Defensively

Defensive riding or driving saves lives. Many serious motorcycle accidents are caused by a driver failing to look for a motorcyclist before making a left turn.  If you see a driver about to make a turn, don’t assume he will see you. Slow down and be ready to stop. Always ride with your headlights on. Keep out of a driver's blind spot. Make sure to signal well in advance of any change in direction.

6. Don’t Ride When Tired or Drunk

In 2017, about 6.5 percent of motorcyclists who were involved in crashes in Virginia were drunk. You should not get on a motorcycle if you have consumed alcohol. While driving a car is difficult when you are impaired, it’s doubly so to control a bike. Likewise, fatigue is also a cause of motorcycle crashes. You need to have your wits about you to be safe on a bike.

7. Be Prepared to Ride

Carrying out basic checks on your bike can save your life. Motorcyclists should look out for signs of wear in their tires such as cracks, bulges, low tire pressure or worn tread.  Checks could save you from a blowout.

Look under the bike for signs of oil or gas leaks and make sure your lights are working properly. You should check hydraulic and coolant fluid levels every week.

Once you are on your bike, check your mirrors, horn, brakes, and throttle are working properly.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Motorcycle Injury Attorney

Even if you take adequate precautions on your motorcycle, you may be injured by the careless or reckless actions of another driver. There are many causes of accidents to bikers in Virginia. It’s important to hire a personal injury lawyer with a track record of fighting big cases and winning large verdicts. The Smith Law Center has been helping clients since 1949. Please contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. You only pay us if you make a recovery.

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