With warmer weather and longer days fast approaching, many motorcycle enthusiasts are spending more time out on the road. Whether you enjoy long weekend rides or use your motorcycle to commute, it is important that you keep a few safety tips in mind while you ride.
Spring and summer are notoriously dangerous times of year for motorcyclists. A lot of this has to do with the increased number of motorists on the road, as well as often unpredictable and inclement weather. Regardless of the reason, a motorcycle crash could leave you dealing with serious injuries, not to mention massive medical bills, lost income, and life-altering disabilities. Because of this, it is critical that motorcycle riders stay safe when sharing the road with others.
Below, we've outlined five important safety tips to keep in mind when you ride this spring. Continue reading to learn more or, if you or someone you love was already involved in a crash, contact our New Orleans motorcycle accident attorneys at The Womac Law Firm to learn how we can help.
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Make Sure Your Bike Is Ready to Ride
Before you even hit the road, you should make sure your motorcycle is ready to ride. It’s a good idea to schedule a full tune-up, especially if you haven’t ridden in a while, but in any case, you should check the following:
- Tires, including tire condition and pressure
- Controls, including hand grips, handlebars, throttle, levers, pedals, cables, and hoses
- Lights, battery, and electrical systems
- Oil and other fluids, including fuel, engine oil, coolant, hydraulic fluid, and transmission fluid
- The body of your bike, including gussets, bearings, bushings, chains, belts, etc.
- Stands, including both center and/or side stands
If you notice any issues with your bike, be sure to have them properly and professionally repaired before you ride. The condition of your motorcycle and its components plays a huge role in your overall safety.
Wear a Helmet
Not only is it the law for all motorcycle riders in Louisiana but wearing a motorcycle helmet is one of the best ways to stay safe and protect yourself in the event of a crash. Study after study has proven that motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of serious brain injury and death in motorcycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that as many as 1,872 lives in 2017 were saved thanks to motorcycle helmets—and another 749 could have been saved had riders worn helmets.
In Louisiana, all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear approved motorcycle helmets. To be "approved," helmets must meet certain safety specifications and must be secured with a chin strap. Helmets must also contain appropriate padding and linings and must have a visor.
Brush Up on Your Motorcycle Skills
While most motorcycle riders are highly experienced drivers, it never hurts to brush up. A motorcycle safety course can allow you to sharpen your skills and prepare for the unexpected.
In Louisiana, the LA State Police’s Public Safety Services offers a number of motorcycle training and skills courses for all riding levels, including beginners, intermediate, and advanced riders. Courses range in length (from 5 to 15 hours) and cover a range of motorcycle riding necessities, including both physical and mental skills, cornering, evasive maneuvering, braking, self-assessment, risk management, and more.
To learn more about available course, click here.
Prepare for Inclement Weather
Springtime is notorious for suddenly changing weather patterns, including unexpected showers and storms. This can be incredibly dangerous for motorcyclists. Wet, slick roadways can cause slide-outs and lowside crashes, as well as other dangerous accidents. Additionally, heavy rain can significantly limit visibility, putting motorcyclists at an even higher risk than usual.
Here are a few ways you can prepare for—and stay safe in—inclement weather:
- Make sure you have the right gear. You’ll want to wear waterproof clothing that is highly visible to others on the road. You should also make sure your hands and feet are properly covered with waterproof gloves and boots, and you should always wear appropriate protective eyewear. An anti-fog face shield can make all the difference when riding in the rain.
- Slow down! When riding in inclement weather, reduce your speed and cover the brake to ensure that you are able to safely slow down or stop when needed. It’s also a good idea to lengthen your riding distance to about 8 – 10 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
- Keep an eye on extra-slippery areas of the road, such as painted lines, manhole covers, metal bridges, railroad crossings, and tar snakes. When wet, asphalt becomes slicker, as well, which is why you should reduce your speed and drive with caution in or just after a period of rain. It’s also important that you watch for puddles and avoid them whenever you can. Utilize dry lines, like car tracks, when possible.
- Make sure your bike is properly equipped. Ensure your motorcycle’s tires are relatively new and/or not worn and that they have the proper tire pressure (PSI) before you ride. You should also make sure your headlight and taillight are working, as well as all other parts of your bike. It’s smart to get a full motorcycle tune-up at the beginning of the season to make sure everything is in good, working condition.
Practice Defensive Riding
Although this is an essential safety tip at any time of the year, it is especially important to drive defensively in the spring and summertime, as there are generally more vehicles on the road. Always be aware of others around you and avoid reckless or careless driving, which could put you and others at risk. Make sure you know and follow all Louisiana motorcycle laws, including refraining from lane-splitting or passing vehicles in the same lane, and always drive with caution to protect yourself while you ride.
Unfortunately, even the safest and most skilled motorcyclist cannot always avoid an accident. if you are involved in a crash, we encourage you to get in touch with our New Orleans motorcycle accident lawyers at The Womac Law Firm to learn how we can help. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, disability, and other losses. Our team is here to answer your questions and provide the dedicated legal guidance you need.
Contact us today to get started with a free initial consultation.