Motorcycle Safety Tips: 2021 Guide To Riding Safely

Troy
| Last Updated: March 14, 2021

Speedy Moto is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

There’s no denying that riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating, fuel-efficient, and adventurous experience. However, the harsh reality is that riding a motorcycle is significantly riskier than driving a car. 

To bolster this, statistics from the Insurance Information Institute revealed that a crash as a motorcyclist is about 30 times more fatal than a motorist. 

Why Is Motorcycle Safety Important?

Prevention in the realm of road safety is a game-changer as it can quite literally save lives. Reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state that there has been a spike in the number of motorcycle-related deaths over the last 10 years.

Furthermore, according to the Information Insurance Institute, in 2018, about 36,560 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents. Compared to 2017, the number went down by 2.4%.

Nonetheless, motorcyclists are regarded as traffic participants with the most susceptibility to grisly road accidents. Therefore, it comes as no surprise then that laws have been enforced to enhance motorcycle safety.

For instance, in states that lack the universal helmet laws, 57% of the motorcyclists who died in 2017 weren’t wearing helmets compared to 8% in states with these laws. Furthermore, helmets saved about 1870 lives in 2017. 

Is Riding a Motorcycle More Dangerous Than Driving a Car?

In a nutshell, yes! Motorcyclists engage in riskier activity compared to car drivers.

Motorcycles and cars inherently share similarities. For instance, they can be equally powerful, travel fast, and drive on the same roads. However, a few differences make motorcycles more dangerous.

For starters, they have two wheels rather than four, which means a rider’s skills, balance, and quick reflexes play a crucial role. Secondly, they ride out in the open instead of inside the steel cage of a car frame.

While the resulting sense of freedom makes motorcycles alluring to many people, it comes with immense risk. Thirdly, motorcycles hide in plain sight, increasing their likelihood of being hit by other drivers. Lastly, with the absence of a vehicle’s structural safety, a motorcycle involved in a crash is more likely to incur fatal or adverse injuries.

Nonetheless, some aspects can mitigate this risk. Not surprisingly, statistics show that wearing a helmet is one of the most essential safety measures that a rider can take to ensure their motorcycle safety.

However, only 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, have mandated the universal helmet laws. While wearing a helmet can make all the difference, any seasoned motorcyclist will be quick to tell you that the key to staying alive and in one piece ultimately boils down to smarts and skill. 

Motorcycle Safety Tips

We’ve rounded up a few ways to enjoy your motorcycle rides without compromising your safety.

Gear Up

Contrary to popular belief, looking cool should be the last thing on your mind when it comes to getting on your motorcycle. Regardless of how hot it is outside, more so, when the sweltering summers roll around, sandals, shorts, and a T-shirt are inappropriate riding attire.

Jeans also offer little protection against road rash and injury if you happen to be in a motorcycling accident. You should opt for unrivaled protection with reinforced or leather boots, trousers, or jackets.

Goggles or glasses are a must-have for open-faced helmets, and gloves are an ideal option to protect your hands. There’s also uniquely-designed gear that’s ideal for cooling and ventilation in warm weather.

As a rule of thumb, avoid riding without a DOT-approved helmet regardless of how unsightly it looks, as it could mean the difference between life and death.

Safety Checks

Before hopping on your bike and speeding off to your destination, give it a thorough once-over. It entails checking out the lights, tire pressure, and mirrors. In doing so, you’ll notice if there are potential mechanical hazards such as leaks and loose bolts.

You need to be diligent when it comes to regular maintenance and care by staying on top of tire wear, suspension and chain adjustments, brake pad wear, and oil changes.

Hit The Brake For Motorcycles

Being on a motorcycle doesn’t automatically make it easier to spot other bikes on the road. Therefore, along with hitting the brakes in all sorts of riding conditions, always double-check when turning or switching lanes.

To ensure that a quick stop won’t result in a grisly road accident, always give ample room to the cars ahead of you and master the art of stopping on a dime without locking the brakes. Alternatively, you can advance to anti-lock brakes.

Research by the IIHS shows that ABS brakes on your motorcycle can lessen the likelihood of being in a tragic road accident by up to 37%.

Spread The Love

Without a doubt, motorcycles are typically regarded as second class road citizens or overlooked. However, as a rider, you can change the narrative by always driving as though you’re an ambassador for motorcyclists worldwide.

Ride with awareness, care, and courtesy that you’re a great representation of motorcycles for those around you. Don’t let the urge to prove a point by retaliating against a reckless driver to overcome your better judgment. After all, it puts a damper on the joy of riding.

Ride Defensively

Are you aware that one of the most common phrases drivers say after a collision with motorcyclists is, “I did not see them?” A driver is trained to keep their eyes peeled for other cars, not bikes. As a result of a rider’s narrow profile, they usually find themselves in a car’s blind spot.

Therefore, the best way to overcome this is to ride defensively. It entails assuming that you’re invisible by constantly scanning your mirrors, glancing around you, and being on high alert when you’re on the road.

Be Aware Of The Forecast

Given that weather is a regular foil to ideal driving conditions, the safety hazard of icy or wet roads increases when you’re on two wheels. You have the absence of a windshield, direct exposure to driving rain, and half the stability of a vehicle working against you.

Poor visibility is a biker’s worst nightmare, and until rain finds you on your bike, you’ll never fathom the pain that stems from being pelted by raindrops at 30 or 50 miles per hour.

Ride With A Clear Mind

One of the greatest dangers to riders is hopping on your bike and cruising on the road in the wrong state of mind. Riding when you’re drowsy, deep in thought, or distracted can be a recipe for disaster. 

Keep in mind that you’re ultimately the only one looking out for you when you're on a motorcycle. Therefore, if your emotions and mind are anywhere other than on the road, you’re highly vulnerable to rookie mistakes that can end in adverse injuries or, worse, death.

Pay Attention To The Road

As a rider, you need to keenly watch the road you’re riding on. When swerving, err on the side of caution by being vigilant for unstable road conditions, including gravel. Don’t throw caution to the wind when crossing railroad tracks as the paint may be slippery. The same applies to the white lines found at every stoplight.

Use Your Head

Granted, the mirrors on a motorcycle serve a purpose. However, it’s not practical to solely depend on them for awareness of your immediate riding surroundings. You’ll need to use your head to keep mindful of your position concerning your surroundings and those around you.

Seasoned bikers understand the importance of keeping their eyes and head up while rounding corners. They also understand that the safest way of switching lanes involves turning your head and looking over your shoulder to ensure the coast is clear. Furthermore, you’ll get a feeling for whether other drivers are paying attention to you.

Stay In Your Comfort Zone

Know your abilities and ensure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to your selected route and motorcycle. Your bike should be a snug fit for you, meaning that your feet should comfortably touch the ground (no tiptoes) when you’re seated.

Moreover, it’s a no-brainer that if the bike feels overly heavy and bulky for you, then it probably is. To effortlessly get on and off your bike, the controls and handlebars should be easy to reach.

As a rule of thumb, the more familiar you are with a route, the easier it is for you to focus more on safety and worry less about missing a turn. Additionally, if you’re riding with a group of bikers, avoid pushing yourself to keep up with the pack. Always ride at your comfort level, rather than theirs.

Conclusion

While motorcycles are generally hazardous or unsafe, implementing the tips discussed above, the chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident are slim. Remember, as a biker, you have no control over what happens around you. However, you certainly possess the power to control how you react to everything, so ride with courtesy, awareness, and care.

People Also Ask

Here are the concise answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the best motorcycle tips. 

What Should You Not Do While Riding a Motorcycle?

A few things to avoid while riding a motorcycle include changing gears during an overtaking maneuver because it can be fatal, accelerating inside a corner entry, and forcing a fall down in a corner as you lose traction and crash. You should also avoid treating roads like racetracks by competing with other drivers. 

What Is the Fastest Way to Stop a Motorcycle in a Curve?

Apply brakes progressively until you’re on the verge of losing traction. As you’re coming to a halt, remember to un-lean the motorcycle as it’s nearly impossible to brake as hard when you’re leaned over rather than when straight up.

How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?

Although they account for 14% of all crash-related fatalities, motorcycles are only 3% of the vehicles on the road. Reports show that bikers are 28 times more likely to die in a road accident than passengers in a vehicle. Furthermore, over 80% of motorcycle crashes, resulting in adverse injuries or death. 

What does ATGATT mean?

It’s a motorcycle acronym for ‘All the Gear All the Time’ as a biker's commitment to practice wearing protective gear and clothing every time they are on the road. 

Photo Credit: CCT-PSD.com

Are Motorcycle Safety Courses Necessary?

Yes! It brings awareness to bikers on the dangers they are exposed to during their rides and the precautions they should take to ensure their safety on the road.

Troy

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.