Motorcycle Safety Tips for New Riders

Even though Arizona offers opportunities for motorcycling year-round, for some, with the change of season, it could mean it’s time to bring the bike out of the garage or storage. Today, motorcycling is bigger than ever in the U.S. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the number of motorcycles on the road surpassed 12 million in 2018, 2 million more than in 2014.

But with opportunity comes responsibility. Unfortunately, the risk of riding a motorcycle has remained unchanged. The leading causes of motorcycle crashes, injuries, and deaths include unsafe speed, bad weather and poor road conditions, not wearing a helmet, distracted driving, inexperience and alcohol impairment. If you aren’t careful, you could end up becoming another Arizona statistic. In 2021, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) reported 2,594 total motorcycle collisions – making up 2.14 percent of all vehicle accidents in the state. Of the 2,594 accidents, 159 of them were fatalities.

In 2016, the number one cause of motorcycle collisions was speed, followed closely by failing to remain within the proper lane and failing to yield right of way. 

If you are new to riding, it’s important to remember first that you have to obey Arizona law for a safe ride. Second, you need to have a good grasp of the basics. Here are essential pointers for newbie riders. 

Motorcycle Safety Tips for New Riders

Keep these safety tips in mind before hitting the road, whether you are buying your first motorcycle, upgrading or just interested in a safer ride:

  • Get a motorcycle that fits you: There are many different types of motorcycles. Do your homework to make sure you choose one that’s right for you. You should be able to rest both feet flat on the ground comfortably when seated. Make sure handlebars and controls are within easy reach. And choose a model you can easily lift on and off the center stand. In other words, if it feels too heavy, it probably is. Then get to know your bike, be familiar with the controls and how it operates.
  • Pay extra (if need be) for antilock brakes (ABS): Antilock brakes – now available on a wide array of models – are a proven lifesaver. ABS helps control steering during an emergency stop, especially in slippery conditions. Now standard on many high-end models, ABS adds only a few hundred dollars to the price of more basic bikes. Make sure you take adequate care of your motorcycle and schedule regular maintenance. 
  • Don’t ride without a helmet: The numbers tell it all: Helmets prevent fatal injuries 37 percent of the time for riders and 41 percent for passengers. In 2019, that translated into 1,872 fewer motorcycle deaths, according to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2016, half of the motorcycle riders involved in a fatal collision in Arizona were not wearing a helmet.
  • Wear the right gear: News flash: road rash is painful! All that’s between you and inclement weather, kamikaze bugs and flying road debris is quality gear made for motorcycling that can protect you in the case of a collision.

Choose a leather or other reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants and over-the-ankle footwear. Today’s specially-designed jackets include rugged padding and breathable mesh for greater protection and comfort, even during warm summer days. Also note that bright colors make it easier for drivers to see you. And don’t forget serious eye protection like a helmet visor or goggles. A bug or road debris in your eye is not only painful but can lead to a collision and serious injuries.

  • Learn how to drive defensively: Learn basic and advanced defensive riding techniques from courses offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at nearly 2,700 locations nationwide. Before riding out with other drivers, learn the rules and safe operation of your bike on an open road. Practice makes perfect!

Always be on the lookout for cars that suddenly change lanes, turn in front of you, or pull out from parking spots and side streets. Almost two-thirds of all collisions are caused by a driver not noticing a motorcycle, a problem made worse by epidemic levels of distracted driving. And unfortunately, riders are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than those in a motor vehicle.

Maintaining plenty of following distance is particularly important to a motorcyclist, both to ensure enough time to stop or to react to debris in the road. And don’t invite trouble by driving between two moving cars or on the shoulder to avoid a traffic jam.

Motorcycle Safety is Everyone’s Business

Many collisions, or near collisions, can be avoided if motorcyclists remember the basics. Because motorcycle crashes almost always result in serious injuries and the stakes are so high, legal representation by an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is absolutely essential. If you, or someone you love, has been involved in a motorcycle accident and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.