Hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists call Pennsylvania and New Jersey home, according to a report from The Motley Fool. As you are probably already keenly aware, the risk of getting hurt or killed in motorcycle accident is significantly high. In 2012, over 93,000 riders sustained injuries and 5,000 died. As a motorcyclist, safety has to be in the forefront of your mind. Below are several motorcycle safety tips to ensure your next ride is a safe one.
Tip #1: Do a Safety Check before You Hit the Road
Before you hit the road – particularly on a longer road trip – inspect your bike to make sure it is ready for travel. Look at all parts on the bike to make sure they are not loose or broken. Do not forget to inspect the frame and suspension. The more meticulous you are inspecting your bike, the less likely you may be to run into trouble later.
If you do not feel comfortable knowing what to check, consider having a mechanic look it over it. Some of the parts that you or a mechanic should periodically inspect include the following:
- Tires: Check tire pressure and look for any problems with tire tread such as wear, cracks, or other types of damage.
- Drive chain and throttle: Make necessary adjustments to the drive chain or throttle.
- Fluid levels: Check all fluid levels, and change the oil and filter if necessary.
- Check lights: Ensure all lights on the bike are working.
- Check cables: Look over the cables on the brakes and clutch to see if they are in good condition.
Tip #2: Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Do not underestimate the effectiveness of motorcycle safety courses in keeping you safe on the road. A whopping 90 percent of riders who are involved in crashes have not taken any safety training courses, reports Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (A.B.A.T.E.) of Pennsylvania.
Safety courses are taught by certified instructors and provide excellent, hands-on training. You will learn fundamental of motorcycling riding, technical skills, tips on low-risk riding, and a plethora of effective safety skills. And because motorcycle safety courses are either free or low-cost, you have no excuse not to take advantage of them.
- PA: The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP), founded in 1984, provides free courses that anyone with a valid motorcycle permit can register for. Courses include Basic Rider Course, Basic Rider Course 2, Three Wheeled Basic Rider Course, and Advanced Rider Course.
- NJ: New Jersey’s Motorcycle Safety Education Program offers two low-cost course options: Basic RiderCourse and Basic RiderCourse2. You can check out the courses and locations at NJRideSafe.org.
Tip #3: Wear Proper Safety Gear
Donning proper safety gear can save your skin – and your life. Never ride without wearing a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet. Wearing a helmet reduces your risk of a head injury by 69 percent and your risk of death by 42 percent, according to Cochrane Library.
There are a lot of other pieces of gear that can protect your skin from road rash and flying debris while on the road, too. This includes facial protection, gloves, proper footwear, and a sturdy jacket. Read more about essential safety gear.
Tip #4: Make Sure You Are Visible on the Road
Visibility is a huge issue of concern for motorcyclists. Drivers often hit riders simply because they do not know they are there. Government officials, community groups, and A.B.A.T.E. have spearheaded safety campaigns to increase public awareness of motorcycles on the road. You have probably seen black and yellow signs along highways that read, “Watch for Motorcycles.” These are some of the fruits of the campaigning efforts.
As a rider, you need to do your part to stay visible on the road, too. You want to:
- Never assume a driver sees you.
- Avoid making any unexpected, dangerous maneuvers.
- Always use your signals.
- Do not split lanes. (Lane splitting is illegal, anyhow.)
- When approaching an intersection, take the time to slow down and look carefully to see if a vehicle is turning. Proceed with caution.
- Stay out vehicles’ blind spots.
- Do not ride alongside semi-trucks.
- Avoid riding in rain and fog, if possible.
Note: Always carry a cell phone with you on your rides in case of accident or emergency.
Tip #5: Carefully Prepare for Winter Weather Riding
Winter motorcycle riding presents a special set of unique challenges for PA and NJ motorcyclists. Brisk winds, poor visibility, and snowfall can all place motorcyclists at high risk of an accident. Here are some tips for riding a motorcycle in winter that can help you stay safe:
- Dress in warm clothing and layer your clothes for maximum protection.
- Check your tires and mirrors before riding. Improperly inflated tires can mean a much higher risk of a blowout and therefore an accident. Spray an anti-misting spray on your motorcycle mirrors, windshield, and your helmet visor.
- Maintain your distance while riding in poor weather. Added distance can give you more time to recognize hazards and come to a stop when visibility is poor and when the roads are slick with snow or ice.
- Postpone your trip if the weather is unsafe.
- Use studded snow tires if you do a lot of winter riding.
You also want to prepare your bike for proper storage if you do not plan to use it much over the winter. Before putting your bike into hibernation, make sure to:
- Top off your bike’s fluids.
- Fill up the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer to the gas to keep it from deteriorating.
- Charge the battery prior to storage and once a month thereafter.
- Fill up your tires, and store your bike off the ground if possible to protect your tires from developing uneven sides.
Tip #6: Stay Up-to-Date on Motorcycling Topics
The more privy you are to motorcycle riding safety, the better protected you will be. For more motorcycling articles and the latest in news for riders in NJ and PA, check out our motorcycle blog.