7 Safety Tips Every Motorcyclist Needs to Know - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Jul 12, 2023

7 Safety Tips Every Motorcyclist Needs to Know

 7 Tips on How to Ride a Motorcycle Safely and Responsibly

It’s no secret that riding a motorcycle comes with several safety risks. In 2020 alone, 5,579 motorcyclists were killed in accidents in the United States according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), accounting for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and the highest number of deaths since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) began reporting in 1975.


As drivers everywhere are reminded to “Look twice. Save a life.” to promote safer roads for motorcyclists, it’s also important for motorcyclists to remember their own responsibilities on the road in order to maintain a safe traveling environment. While statistics indicate that riding a motorcycle can be a dangerous hobby, there are several measures you can take as a rider to increase your safety on the roads. Continue reading to learn seven motorcycle safety tips before your next trip!


  1. Wear a Safe, DOT-Compliant Helmet


The NHTSA estimates the use of a DOT-compliant helmet is 37 percent effective against preventing death for riders and 41 percent effective against preventing death for passengers. If a helmet has a DOT symbol on the back, this means the manufacturer claims to meet certain requirements mandated by the NHTSA. But be wary of “novelty helmets” and advertisements like “thinnest” or “lightest DOT-compliant helmet available”—these helmets will not protect you in the event of a crash.


Another thing to consider is the fit of the helmet on your head. Your helmet should fit snugly, providing even pressure across all points of your head without any wiggle room. While there are many styles of helmets available, full-face helmets are often considered safest as they provide the most protection. As a reminder, the buckle on your helmet should always be properly fastened when riding.


  1. Ride Sober


More than a quarter of motorcyclists who were killed in accidents in 2020 were intoxicated, according to the NHTSA. It goes without saying that alcohol impairment can be a deadly combination when coupled with operating a motorcycle. Still, the percentage of motorcyclists who were impaired at the time of a fatal accident exceeds the rate of that of any other motor vehicle category. A motorcyclist relies on their motor skills and reaction time to travel safely—alcohol impairment makes that impossible.


  1. Slow Down


34 percent of all riders involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were speeding, and 45 percent of those were riders aged 25 to 29. Riding over the speed limit adds to the inherent risk of motorcycling because it reduces the amount of time you (and others around you) have to react.


It also means the consequences of a potential crash will be more severe as a rider will be more vulnerable at high speeds. A main reason the fatality rate is higher for motorcyclists than drivers of cars is that a motorcyclist is entirely exposed and at the mercy of their surroundings. At high speeds, it is no surprise that this can be deadly.


  1. Look Over Your Bike Before Every Ride


Another result of being completely exposed on only two or three wheels is that a simple mechanical failure could be potentially fatal. While a blown-out tire in a car is dangerous, a blown-out tire on a motorcycle will almost surely lead to a crash. Always inspect your tire tread and pressure, brakes, fluids, lights, signals, and mirrors before every ride and make sure the motorcycle is fit for the road first.


  1. Become Familiar with Your Bike and the Road


Every motorcycle is a little bit different. Before you go taking any long trips, you should get to know your motorcycle and how it handles so that you can work towards becoming an experienced rider.


When riding a motorcycle, there’s no substitute for experience. In 2020, 36 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatalities were driving without a valid motorcycle license. Take the time to practice braking, shifting, and navigating turns in a safe setting before taking to the roads.


If you have a motorcycle permit and are still in the process of acquiring your license, be sure to take things slow at first as this can be a valuable time to learn how to ride properly and safely.


  1. Ride Defensively


Many motorcyclists encourage the idea of “Look twice. Save a life.” through yard signs and other means to promote awareness and protection for motorcyclists on the roads. Another important component of traffic safety when it comes to motorcycles is understanding that a motorcycle is simply not as visible as a car in traffic. To be safer, a motorcyclist must ride defensively.


Don’t assume you have been spotted by other motorists on the road because there is a chance you may be overlooked. Always ride within the speed limit, stay at a safe distance from other vehicles and be ready to react to your surroundings.


  1. Consider Your Insurance Coverage Needs


While liability insurance is required on a motorcycle for property damage and bodily injury, you may also want to consider additional coverages such as comprehensive and collision so that your motorcycle is protected in the event of an accident. Motorcycles are not cheap and while you may be looking to cut expenses wherever possible, think realistically about what coverage you require should your bike become damaged.