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Motorcycle Maintenance Guidelines
One of the easiest ways to prevent a serious motorcycle accident is to properly care for your motorcycle. Vehicle maintenance can easily mean the difference between serious injury and a comfortable ride through the city. Here are just a few parts of your motorcycle you will want to regularly inspect.
- Tires – Keep an eye out for tread wear, weathering, or any embedded objects. Maintain proper air-pressure, especially in cold weather.
- Wheels – Inspect the cast for cracks and dents and make sure your spokes are not bent or broken. Also, check your seals to see if they are cracked, torn, or building up excessive grease on the outside.
- Throttle – It is crucial that your throttle is operating correctly. Check that it is moving freely and snaps closed. Also, you do not want your throttle revving when you turn the handlebars, as this can easily lead to unintentional speed bursts when navigating.
- Oil – You never want to have gasket or seal leaks, as this poses many dangers. Also, make sure your oil level is appropriate and that your motorcycle has enough hydraulic fluid and coolant.
General Riding Guidelines
Now that you’ve checked the condition of your motorcycle, you’re ready to hit the road. Following some practical safety standards can help ensure you do not end up with serious motorcycle injuries.
- Be sure to remain in visible sight of other motorists. Car and truck drivers often have difficulty seeing motorcyclists on the road so avoid driving in their blind spots whenever possible.
- If a motorist doesn’t see you, don’t be shy-honk your horn! It could end up saving your life.
- Be sure your headlight works and keep it on during the day and night while operating your motorcycle.
- Before stopping, flash your brake light to warn drivers behind you that you are slowing down.
- Wear leather protective clothing to help avoid road rash in case of an accident.
- Wear a helmet. Statistics and research consistently show that helmet use significantly reduces your chances of traumatic brain injury or death.
- Don’t follow too closely behind the vehicle ahead of you. Give yourself enough room between other vehicles to respond to other motorists’ actions.
- Ride in the part of your lane that makes you most visible to other drivers.
- Drive defensively. As a motorcyclist, you are at a greater risk of serious injury or a wrongful death than car or truck drivers. The only thing between you and the road is your protective clothing. Always go the extra mile in safety precautions and never drive aggressively.
Motorcycle Passenger Safety
As you have probably experienced, people love driving as passengers on motorcycles. When a friend or family member asks you for a ride, it is your responsibility to ensure their safety. The extra weight can make navigating more difficult. Please consider the following safety tips when driving with a passenger:
- In Utah, helmets are required for all persons under the age of 18, including passengers. We strongly recommend that everyone, regardless of age, uses a safety helmet. Make sure your passenger is wearing a helmet and other safety gear.
- Be prepared for the rules of inertia. Your passenger will naturally shift forward during quick stops and may bump helmets with yours.
- Working the throttle and clutch from the stopped position will be a bit different with a passenger. Before hitting the open road, practice accelerating with a passenger so you can get a feel for the control.
- You will likely need to brake sooner than normal. Give yourself extra distance between the vehicle ahead of you in case it suddenly stops. Begin braking earlier for stop lights and signs.
- With the added weight, you will also need more time and space to pass. Be sure to remember this before passing on a two-lane highway.
- Remember that your passenger may not be used to the sensation of riding on a motorcycle. Give him/her time to acclimate to the speed and sensation of leaning.
- Instruct your passenger to keep his/her feet on the footrests and to hold your waist or hips at all times while the vehicle is moving.
If you are injured as a passenger on a motorcycle, you may qualify for compensation under more than one insurance policy. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can review the facts of the accident and identify all possible insurance claims.
Group Riding Safety Guidelines
While some motorcyclists prefer to ride alone, many enjoy the thrill of the open road with fellow motorcycle enthusiasts. Group riding is very common, whether with friends or with an organized motorcycle rally. Following practical safety standards can help keep you and your fellow group riders safe.
- Hold a riders meeting in advance to discuss the route, pit stops, etc. Assign experienced riders to be the lead and the sweep (tail) rider.
- Keep the group to a controllable size, between 5 and 7 riders. If you have more riders, divide the group into subgroups with a lead and sweep for each.
- Ride in formation. The staggered riding formation is very safe and allows for proper space between the riders. The lead rides in the left third of the lane and the next rider stays at least one second behind him in the right third of the lane. The formation continues down the line. Use a single file formation on curvy roads, low-visibility conditions, and entering/exiting highways.
- Keep an eye on the riders behind you via your rear view mirror. If a rider begins lagging behind, slow down and allow him/her time to catch up. If the entire group follows this procedure, you will be able to maintain a good and steady speed.
Of course, these safety tips and guidelines are basic and do not cover every safety procedure. For more information, please visit the website of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. It provides vast resources for safety procedures, training classes, state laws and other valuable information. Visit their website at www.msf-usa.org and remember to ride safely!