Learn How To Protect Yourself While Riding Your Motorcycle
Motorcycle fatalities are projected to increase by 3.2% from 2016 to 2017 according to L.S.U. (See http://datareports.lsu.edu/Reports.aspx?yr=2017&rpt=A4b&p=ci)
In 2016 there were 94 motorcycle fatalities and 1,402 people injured or killed on motorcycles. The projection for 2017 is 97 motorcyclists will die in motorcycle crashes in Louisiana. This is a 25% increase in the last 5 years. This is concerning even if you don’t ride a motorcycle in Louisiana. Everyone in the community pays for these deaths, traumatic brain injuries and dismemberments not to mention the immense loss of love and support to family members.
10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF ON A MOTORCYCLE
- Don’t drink alcohol and drive a motorcycle. In 2016, 30.9% of the motorcycle fatalities were alcohol related. Alcohol fatalities were increasing by 50% for the last 5 years. Alcohol consumption affects not only judgement but affects your vision and perception.
Despite campaigns to educate motorcyclists to the dangers of drinking and driving a motorcycle, this is one of the biggest causes of motorcycle fatalities in Louisiana. It is a cultural problem. We need to reconsider events like poker runs between alcohol beverage outlets. Bars need to offer non-alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic drinks for motorcycle events and riders in general. The social costs for drive-thru-alcohol beverages outlets is very high.
- Don’t use prescriptive drugs that effect motor control. A NHTSA report points out the percentage of drug impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes increased from 14% in 2011 to 20% in 2015. The use of synthetic narcotic drugs is an epidemic. Police may not screen for these newer synthetic drugs on all drug tests. Most of these drugs affect motor control. The use of prescription drugs can affect motor control. Read the warning labels and check the Physician’s Desk Reference, which is available online.
- Avoid construction zones. There is a much higher risk of motorcycles crashing in construction zones. The large motorcycle warning sign is not mandatory in Louisiana and may not be used. Renting signs cost a road contractor money. The highway contractor may not put up all the required warning signs. It’s often a case of profits over safety. Loose gravel is a lubricant under your motorcycle tires. Drop offs can cause a loss of control. If you lose traction in a car tire you only loose 25% of your traction if you lose traction in a motorcycle. Grass, sand, gravel, steel plates, oil and loose dirt are all lubricants like oil on the road and are all causes of loss of traction in motorcycles. There is increased risk in construction zones. Try to avoid them.
- Learn your emergency swerve technique. Motorcycles have smaller tires with less of a footprint. Above 12 m.p.h. you may be better off doing an emergency swerve rather than maximum braking, depending on the circumstances. This is not an easy maneuver to learn. Take an MSF Basic Course. Remember you cannot turn and brake at the same time doing an emergency swerve. It may be your only option to avoid going into a suddenly opening car door.
- Recurrent practice is necessary to maintain proficiency. When was the last time you practiced maximum braking or the emergency swerve? Probably not for many years. Your emergency maneuvers must be drilled into your very fiber thru practice. Unless you practice on at least an annual basis you will lose your edge. Practice really does make perfect when it comes to motorcycle safety. Practice in a parking lot you maximum braking and get come cones out to practice your emergency swerves. It will save your life in this world of DWT’s—Driving While Texting distracted drivers.
- Take advance motorcycle safety courses. Motorcycles are fascinating, complex machines. You cannot ever learn everything there is to know about motorcycle riding in your lifetime. I’ve been riding and racing for over 44 years. I’m still learning all about motorcycles. Take an intermediate or advanced MSF Course offered by the State of Louisiana. Go to a track day at your local track. You don’t need a race or sport bike. Tape up the lights on your Harley and go for it! You are not racing but pushing the limits of your motorcycle in a safe place. There are no cars to run over you and you won’t get any speeding tickets. Or for the bolder riders, go to a race school or one sponsored by W.E.R.A. or A.H.R.M.A. The point is not to win a championship but to learn.
- Treat intersections with extreme caution. Don’t blow through intersections without carefully scanning. Use a 12 second scan prior to crossing every intersection. You may not be visible to opposing traffic. Watch for cars making left turns. Intersections are high-risk zones for motorcyclists. Don’t drag race from stop lights. Proceed with caution through intersections.
- Go to a new helmet that protects against brain damage from angular rotational acceleration. You should always get the best helmet available. You only have one head with a fragile brain. Even a mild brain injury (TBI) can adversely affect your life. There is no cure for TBI. Even a mild concussion can cause brain injury. Most helmets do not protect against rotational angular acceleration. Consider the new 6D helmets that were designed to protect your brain from side impacts to your head. Most helmets offer no such protection. The cost is reasonable for these new helmets with costs starting at $500 to $850. Bell makes 4 models from $500 to $2300 that protect against angular rotational acceleration. You deserve the best. A new 6D helmet is cheaper than your medical insurance deductible. You don’t’ have a $99 head so don’t buy a $99 helmet!
- Buy a motorcycle with an advance suspension/braking system. ABS braking systems, traction control and wheelie controls are fantastic aids to keeping your motorcycle from going out of control in emergency situations. This is especially true in wet weather. Consider upgrading to one of the newer models with this built-in computer-aided systems.
- Wear all your safety gear on every ride. Get in the habit of always wearing a good helmet, eye protection, boots above the ankle, gloves with full finger and wrist protection, CE approved pants and jacket and boots. Dress for the crash is good advice. Secure your jacket to your pants so they don’t expose your skin in a crash. If you don’t wear all your gear it does you no good in a crash. Most crashes occur within 2 miles of your home. Never ride with just shorts or regular clothes. They will not protect you in a crash.
I hope you will consider the above in your motorcycling riding adventures. We need to reduce the fatalities.
MOTORCYCLE TRIAL ATTORNEY & MSF BASIC MOTORCYCLE INSTRUCTOR