Motorcycle Safety Hinges on both Riders and Drivers


Using any mode of transportation seems like a calculated risk on modern roads and highways. Distracted or inexperienced drivers, road hazards, traffic, and inclement weather cause issues for drivers frequently; motorcyclists assume even more risk and rely both on their own safety awareness and the conscientiousness of the drivers around them.

Andria Yu, a spokesperson for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), recently spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about several recommendations when choosing to this mode of travel. First: gearing up properly is invaluable for a motorcyclist’s safety.

“Wear all your safety gear when riding- head to toe. Helmet, full-fingered glove, eye protection, riding jacket, riding pants, riding boots- always have all the gear on all the time,” Yu explained, noting the most obvious difference between cars and bikes. “Your armor, your protection, is on you. Whereas, in a car, you’re in a cage.”

Proper riding pants, Yu said, have abrasive-resistant material that allows riders to slide longer, if needed. Lengthier slides dissipate energy and can reduce injuries. Yu also wears armor on her knees, elbows, and hips.

Pre-ride inspections are another key aspect of motorcycle safety. Motorcyclists call this process T-CLOCS, an acronym reminding riders to check tires and wheels, controls (such as handlebars and pedals), lights and electrics, oil and other fluids (levels and leaks), chassis and stands. Given the higher risks involved when these parts fail, regular checks are vital. Roadside services, such as AAA, also can assist motorcycles. Yu also recommended riders and drivers alike seek out controlled, safer environments, such as track days, for high-speed thrill riding.

Yu also spoke on the controversies surrounding loud tail pipe noise. Many enthusiasts feel that because of the backwards positioning, surrounding motorists don’t hear them soon enough. Riders should also be aware of local ordinances on vehicle noise and be considerate of their environment.

Distracted driving is one of the biggest issues faced by motorcyclists nationwide. “It’s an issue for any road user and especially motorcyclists because we also have a smaller profile on the road. So not only could distracted drivers just not see you, but we have something called inattentional blindness.” This type of distraction occurs when other vehicles, not expecting a motorcyclist, inadvertently do not notice them.

We always tell people to ride as if they’re invisible, which means being extra careful or being extra defensive.” Yu said she leans to the side of caution, when deciding if she can risk beating a car and making a turn. That driver is simply less likely to see her bike than another car. Yu suggested wearing a bright caution vest, not unlike what a crossing guard might wear. Yu also uses a motion-activated light mounted on her helmet. The Brake Free system actually turns red when it senses the rider slowing down on the bike, without the use of the break.

The MSF offers many classes for riders of all experience levels; it even has partners that give dirt bike classes for beginners or non-riders, provided they have appropriate safety gear.

Being visible may be the biggest hurdle in motorcycle safety, but riders can also minimize their risk by riding with awareness and inspecting their bikes beforehand. And others sharing the road more safely enclosed in metal and glass must pay close attention as well.

We at the Herd Law firm are motorcycle riders, who represent other motorcycle riders. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a wreck, especially when a 4-wheel driver did not see you or respond properly, we are here to help, answer your questions, and perhaps discuss your rights and remedies.

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