This post was written by guest blogger Jordan Robertson. Jordan is a freelance writer and motorcycle enthusiast. After a few bad spills, Jordan is also a motorcycle safety advocate.

…even when you’ve been riding for years. Yeah, you probably have your motorcycle license. And let’s hope you already know how to ride. But have you thought about how you’re going to keep riding for years to come without injuring yourself or others?

motorcycle-accident
Photo by Paul L. Nettles

Take a Safety Class

Maybe you’ve already been riding for years and think you know all there is to know about riding a motorcycle. A lot of old time riders learned from their buddies or taught themselves. But one look at motorcycle crash statistics will tell you it never hurts to get a refresher. A motorcycle safety course is a good start. Not only will the course cover the basics of riding safety, after you take it, you may even qualify for a discount on your motorcycle insurance. Check with your insurance carrier to find out.

If you’re not already part of a club, or have just moved to a new state, taking a course is also a good way to meet other riders in your community. You may even want to consider eventually becoming a motorcycle safety instructor. The more people who know how to ride safely, the safer the roads are for everyone.

Wear a Helmet

Whether you live in a state or country where it’s mandatory or not, wearing a helmet may be the easiest thing you do that provides the most protection from injury, or even death. For every mile driven, motorcycle riders are 37 times more likely to die than those riding in passenger vehicles. That statistic alone should encourage you to wear a helmet. Many of those deaths are due to severe head trauma or brain injury.

motorcycle-helmets
Photo Mudmucks

Wearing a helmet should be the equivalent of wearing a seatbelt in a car, but if you still don’t think you need to, at least require your passengers to wear one. No one wants to be responsible for injury to another rider, especially when it can be so easily avoided just by putting a helmet on. Make sure it’s DOT, Snell or ECE certified.

Wear Safety Gear

Aside from a helmet, there are many other components of proper safety gear to protect every part of your body in the event of an accident. A jacket made from abrasion-resistant material is essential. Most of us would prefer a broken bone to a bad case of road rash. Motorcycle accident statistics show that injuries to the lower half of the body account for half of all injuries suffered. Avoid becoming one of those statistics with pants made from leather or Kevlar, with padding in all the right places. And old pair of jeans and a denim jacket might not cut it, but oilskins or motorcycle jeans like Draggins will be a big help.

road-rash
Photo Johnnyalive

Round out your safety gear ensemble with gloves that wick moisture and fasten above the wrist, and boots high enough to cover the ankle, but not interfere with movement while riding. If your helmet doesn’t have a built-in face shield, consider goggles. Other than keeping your eyes safe in an accident, or from flying debris, they’ll keep bugs out of your eyes too. Look for tinted goggles that offer protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Regular Maintenance

We all love our bikes and want to make sure they are maintained in order to run properly, and to be safe to ride. Following the preventive maintenance schedule in the manual will keep it in good condition. But also perform quick inspections every time you prepare to ride it. Make sure the tires aren’t damaged, that the lights work, and that everything is where it should be. If you do find anything broken or missing, repair or replace it as soon as possible. This is especially important when it comes to lights. The headlight and taillight are sometimes the only things that allow vehicle drivers to see you on a dark road. It’s important to keep them working, not to mention you want to avoid getting a ticket.

Keeping your motorcycle clean is also part of maintaining it. Regular washing, preventive maintenance, and prompt repairs when necessary will not only keep your motorcycle in good working order, they’ll help it keep some resale value so a few years down the road when you’re ready to upgrade, you can get a good price for your bike.

Being a responsible rider, and remembering that a motorcycle is a vehicle and not a toy are the final keys to staying safe when riding your motorcycle. Knowing you and your passenger are safe will allow you to enjoy riding all the more.

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38 Responses to “Staying Safe on Your Motorcycle”

  1. Axel  July 7th

    Such articles should be puplished more often, to remind us what we can do to avoid heavy injuries. I follow fatal accidents involving Harley-Davidson’s, and understand that there are about 14 fatal motorcycle (all brands) death per day in the US. Many do not wear a helmet…
    Have a safe ride: http://roadkinguk.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/requiescant-in-pace-%e2%80%93-june-2010/

  2. cathy - Dubai Mortgages  July 7th

    These type of articles should be published several times and on many portals. As there are many people who can not attend the safety classes so they must know how to avoid deadly accidents.

  3. 129CBRider  July 7th

    I can tell everyone from multiple experiences that normal good denim jeans will not survive even the first contact with asphalt. Even in a slow speed tip over turning around in a parking lot you will tear the knee out of them. What usually happens when you crash is your knee comes down first tearing open the denim and scraping a lot of skin off, then you land on your side and the top of your hip bone contacts the asphalt with a great deal of force so if you don’t have a jacket on you’ll get road rash there too. I wear a helmet even when I’m just riding around in the yard. If you consider helmets to be cumbersome, just think…Gary Busey.

  4. vstarlady  July 7th

    I am in the middle of a lovely little bike tour through Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Eastern States and Provinces – I’ve only been on tour for 5 days so far and am amazed at the number of riders who choose not to wear helmets (men and women alike) not to mention they’re riding with shorts, no jackets and I’ve even seen bare feet! What can they possibly be thinking?

  5. Brian P King  July 8th

    Great post on road safety generally, and motorcycle safety in particular. Even now I continually see young guys flaunt the law by riding without helmets and we all know they are asking for trouble. It’s an excellent way for these statistics and the repercussion of such actions to be presented to those who are considering being so careless. Keep the Safety First message to the forefront. Thanks.

  6. Dason  July 9th

    It’s amazing when you think about it, to realize how few people actually “see” the motorcyclists when making turns and things I have always looked out for and paid close attention to individuals on motorcycles to that I’m not responsible for creaming them on the road.

  7. Terry  July 13th

    The reality is that the burden of safety is upon us, the motorcycle rider. We have a responsibility to be clear minded when we fire up the beasts and head out the highway. 41% of the time it’s a single vehicle crash. Another 11% in the head on category due to the motorcycle being in the wrong lane. These are on us. No one else. So I guess I just want you to think before having one more beer for the road or deciding that you can get through those twisties faster than your riding companions. It’s just not worth it.

  8. Alex  July 14th

    Dress for the crash, not the ride. If you like to ride at 100mph, you better practice stoping from 100mph. Use your eyes properly – if you stare at it you are likely to hit it…

  9. sidiny  July 15th

    I think that motorcylists always risk their lives, the moment that they get on the bike, therefore they always have to be protected for safety purposes.

  10. Jake M.  July 15th

    Yes, ALWAYS wear a helmet. I oftentimes see people without one, and I just think how silly it is. Even if you are the best rider out there, you can’t control the idiot who doesn’t see you in the blind spot of his SUV.

  11. luvtoride  July 16th

    Thank you! Riders should constantly be reminded of safety. We get too complacent and on hot summer days think about not wearing a helmet. But we have seen horrible things happen to people who were not wearing helmets and have actually witnessed helmets saving lives. Yep..sometimes I think about it, but we never ride with out our helmets.

  12. Alan  July 18th

    As a taxi driver for a lot of years I saw some stupid accidents involving motorcycle riders. Rider education should be paramount.
    Thanks for a great post.

  13. Cynthia Q.  July 21st

    these reminders can’t be repeated enough! Thank you! Riding around various states where not everyone wears a helmet or protective gear can make me envious in high temperatures and full gear but as Chris always tells me, rather heat rash than road rash :)

  14. Maya  July 27th

    Very well written article. A must read for motorcycle riders. Many riders tend to leave out the safety in order to look “cool”, such as leaving out the helmets. Its something that needs more addressing because it is very dangerous, and many don’t realize just how serious it is. Great read.

  15. GE Fanuc  July 31st

    thanks for sharing these helpful tips. Yes you are right, safety is important so you have to do all what it takes to keep you safe while driving a motorcycle.

  16. Chris Sorbi  July 31st

    I do emphasize safety to myself and Cynthia as well but we all need reminders. Safety is vital to ensuring success on our around the world expedition to raise funds and awareness for world hunger.

  17. Emma Watson  August 2nd

    We have heard that “Prevention is better than cure “and it really is true.I think the most dangerous vehicle is a motorcycle,but if we are careful,and follow the preventive measures, then accidents can be avoided.It really is a very useful guide for everyone.

  18. Gmoney  August 9th

    Thanks so much for writing up this blurb. I don’t think people really take into consideration how important safe riding and safety gear is. SMS Helmets provide that necessary second barrier to riders.

  19. Evo  August 13th

    I can’t believe how many people I see riding around in shorts, t-shirts, even flip flops! My mantra is always “assume you are going to fall off”!

  20. Steve Max  August 17th

    Your Post is very useful for me and my brother. We both use to ride motor bike for fun and joy without helmet which is very risky. I have seen many accidents in my life. But one more I like to add here is that “do not drink while driving”. Good Post.

  21. Mark Grimes  August 20th

    This is definitely awesome! It’s a really helpful article and I hope you could also get to visit my site so we can permeate ideas when it comes to motorcycle news. Please drop some comments and let us know what you think about our website.

    Here’s the link:
    http://bit.ly/be26Na

    Thanks ahead and have a wonderful day! :)

  22. faizan  August 25th

    bike riding is no doubt the best adventure we can have but how it can act opposite to us, strikes our mind very less often.
    nice text to know about!
    thanks for the information

  23. Motorcycle Lawyer Russ Brown  August 27th

    Great article. I would like to add to make sure you are fully insured! We get calls all the time from bikers who are badly hurt and the accident was not their fault but no under – insured or un-insured coverage. This equals no money.

  24. reg-user  September 4th

    Simply tin what that, in the world perishes a heap of people, drivers of the given units and not only, but it is very interesting and extreme

  25. Arnav  September 7th

    As soon as you see a mistake and don’t fix it, it becomes your mistake. So always wear a helmet while driving a motorcycle.

  26. Dave  September 8th

    It only takes a few bucks to purchase some protective gears and make yourself safe when riding. As a rider myself, I always prioritize safety. Try looking at sites like … [edited for ignorant self promotion]…for those gears.

  27. McGlasses  September 16th

    These safety tips are GREAT to hear again and again! I’ve never tried the Dragon jeans but I will now. Protective accessories are essential. If you don’t have shield on your helmet because it blocks your peripheral vision you can always wear sunglasses with helmet. helmet.

  28. Las Vegas Harley-Davidson  September 20th

    Regular maintenance on your motorcycle is key! People don’t realize sometimes how important it is to perform simple maintenance tasks like checking your tire pressure! Check out this great article on the importance of checking your tire pressure: http://lasvegasharley.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/tip-of-the-week-checking-your-tire-pressure/

    Also, taking a riding class is always a good way of sharpening your riding skills & becoming a safer rider, no matter how long you’ve been riding motorcycles! You can see what types of skills you can learn and class dates here: http://www.lasvegasharleydavidson.com/ridersedge_intro.asp

    Ride ON! Ride SAFE!

  29. hd2008ultra  September 25th

    I have always told my son that it is not a question of “if” you have a motorcycle accident, it is a matter of “when” you have an accident. Hopefully that “one” will be minor and you will be prepared with the proper safety equipment. Every biker knows as soon as he mounts that glorious beast that today could be the day you don’t come home if you are not a defensive, safe and alert rider; if not, and you never think about the consequences or think you are to good a rider to have an accident; then you need to get off your bike and buy yourself a convertible.

  30. shepdaddy  October 3rd

    Good safety reminders. How quickly we stop wearing our riding boots, or jacket, or in some case proper long pants. Someone once told me to dress for the slide, not the ride.

  31. aprilia rs 125  October 14th

    Love this blog. Glad to see someone actually caring about safety and not just banging on about how stupidly they can ride a bike. Keep up the good work. Love it.

  32. ukbiker  November 30th

    Man i also had an accident like that i know it was my mistake but i was luck to have survived….

  33. V. Nelson  February 3rd

    Very informative post, thanks for the insight. Regardless, I agree, wear a helmet and protective gear…it will increase your safety. Despite freak accidents that may occur, be safe and sensible while enjoying the ride!

  34. Tom  February 8th

    A few months back my wife went down at about 45-50 mph. She was wearing all her protective gear including a full face helmet, leather coat, chaps, boots and gloves.

    She came out with two minor abrasions the largest the size of a quarter on her elbow and dime size on her knee. Some sore ribs, and some atelectasis from the mirror hitting her in the chest as she went down.
    She walked away from it.

    A few months later a friend also went down, not wearing gear at about 20mph.

    Collar bone broke in two places, several broken ribs. and a very expensive ride to hospital.

    Granted the point of impact was different but considering the difference in speed and the fact that my wife hit asphalt vs friend who was in soft ground and grass you have to conclude that the leathers did their job as did the helmet.

    Easy to do the math here.

    Great article

  35. eric j  February 19th

    Safety is the most important thing when riding.Riding safe is hard to do with all the cell phones and texters out there.It is up to you to watch out for the drivers not watching what thay are doing.

  36. Julieann Ferrigno  March 8th

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  37. Trips  March 30th

    This is a great article on motorcycle safety and I agree with everything said here. The only thing that I think is important is the fact that wearing a helmet is just about the only way to keep your head in one place but the right to make a personal choice must be honored. I agree that even if you don’t want to wear a helmet yourself you should at least offer a helmet to the person riding behind you.

  38. Carolyn Rad  April 29th

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designated May as National Motorcycle Safety Month with the tagline, “Share the Road with Motorcycles”. This is to remind automobile drivers to be aware of motorcycle riders at all times, especially in the busier riding season.

    Hopefully we will have a busier riding season this summer. With the way the weather has been going here in the Great Northwest we would all be satisfied if summer would just come on a weekend so that most of us who work through the week could enjoy it too.

    The NHTSA also reminds motorcycle riders that they should always follow the rules of the road, be alert to other drivers.

    WATCH THE OTHER GUY and always try to make eye contact. You can usually tell what that driver is going to do if you can see their eyes.

    Remember too, do not follow closely behind those 18 wheelers. They can not see you if you can not see them in their mirror and the NHTSA also warns us to always wear protective gear, such as leather jackets and helmets (I know, I hate wearing them too)but they DO save lives.

    The Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month Planner can be found on the NHTSA’s web site. You can visit them today and do your share to help increase awareness of motorcycle’s on the road.

    Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle on the roadway. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative aimed at getting motorists and motorcyclists to “share the road” with each other.

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