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Safety tips every motorcyclist should know

A motorcyclist holding a helmet

Every year, motorcyclists are overrepresented in fatal crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a total of 4,985 people across the country died in 2018 due to motorcycle accidents. That’s why the NHTSA urges drivers and motorcyclists to make themselves visible, to use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets, and to always remain sober while riding.

It’s not just motorcycle riders who benefit from safety tips, but all drivers on the nation’s highways and roads. It’s especially important for car and truck drivers to recognize the unique safety challenges motorcyclists face every day such as size and visibility, riding practices like downshifting and weaving, and how to anticipate and respond to these maneuvers.

According to vehicle miles traveled data from NHTSA, motorcyclists are about 27 times as likely as passenger vehicle occupants to die in a traffic crash. Although there’s the thrill and fun of the open road with motorcycles, in order to be safe riders must develop balance, coordination, and have good judgment at all times.

Motorcycle endorsements

There are some pretty fundamentally different skills needed to operate a motorcycle compared to driving a car. Licensing for motorcyclists varies across states, but all 50 states require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement an automobile driver’s license.

In order to receive the proper endorsement in most states, riders need to pass written and on-cycle skills tests administered by a state licensing agency. However, some states also require riders to take a state-sponsored rider education course, while others waive that specific requirement.

For riders in Oklahoma, the Department of Public Safety states:

In Oklahoma to be licensed to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle, you have to have an "M" endorsement on your Oklahoma Driver License. To have the endorsement added you must appear before a Driver License Examiner, present the required documentation and take a vision, written and drive test exam. If you have completed a "Motorcycle Safety Foundation" course, the written and drive test will be waived.

Practice makes perfect

Just because a rider is licensed and completed an educational safety class doesn’t mean they're immune to dangers on the road; 28% of the 4,985 motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2018 were riding without a valid motorcycle license.

Many licensed and experienced motorcycle riders lose their lives, and it's important to remember that motorcycles vary in handling and responsiveness.

Riding a new or unfamiliar bike in a controlled area can help motorcyclists become more comfortable before taking it on the road. Riders should also know how to handle their motorcycle in inclement weather, how to adjust to slick roads, and be wary of potholes and road debris.

Before heading out for a ride, motorcyclists should also check their motorcycle’s:

  • Tire pressure and tread depth
  • Hand and foot brakes
  • Headlights and signal indicators
  • Fluid levels

Checking for oil and gas leaks should also be a priority. Remember to secure any cargo, check for balance, and adjust the suspension and tire pressure for extra weight.

Protecting your head and body

By far the most important aspect of riding a motorcycle is wearing a helmet. This protects your head from brain damage and other serious head injuries. As for the rest of your body, your arms and legs should always be completely covered when riding a motorcycle. Ideally, wear leather or heavy denim fabric. Additional protective gear can in some cases prevent a crash or even save a life.

Such gear includes:

  • Boots high enough to cover the ankles
  • Gloves for a better grip and hand protection
  • Brightly colored clothing or reflective material

Holding negligent drivers accountable

No matter how much gear you wear, the equipment doesn't protect you from being involved in a collision caused by another driver's negligence. While many motorists view motorcyclists as reckless thrill-seekers, the reality is most motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers. Still, the unfair bias against riders remains.

If you were injured in a crash and someone else is to blame, having an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in your corner who knows how to protect your rights can be critical to the outcome of your claim.

At Lawter & Associates Attorneys at Law PLLC, our dedicated legal team is proud to serve injured riders in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and throughout Oklahoma. Let us aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for the compensation you're entitled to.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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