We have touched on the importance of motorcycle safety. Today, we are expanding the topic to a critical factor in risk management for motorcycle riders: crash and injury prevention. While it is necessary to know what to do after an accident has already happened, it is equally important to reduce the probability of an accident and injuries occurring in the first place. Here are the best strategies to protect yourself while riding a motorcycle.
Why are Motorcycle Riders at Risk?
When you picture yourself driving in a car vs. riding on a motorcycle, there are many differences that show you exactly why riding a bike is the riskier form of transportation.
- In a car, you are sitting in an ergonomic seat, secured by a seat belt. In the case of an accident, you are kept in place. The motor carriage shields your entire body and if the impact is strong enough, an airbag can protect you from multiple directions.
- On a motorcycle, you have no protective cage or seat belt. There is no protection between your body and the pavement or other objects. Your arms, legs, and head are exposed and there are no airbags to cushion your fall.
But that isn’t the only risk you face on a motorcycle. Typically, a car driver is more used to seeing and interacting with other cars in traffic. In many cases, they simply do not anticipate a motorcycle to appear. Since the riders are smaller and more agile and not quite as restrained by objects, they can thread through traffic more easily. But they are often overlooked by car drivers who don’t expect to see them.
Additionally, many weather influences and road conditions are easier to navigate on four wheels, while wet leaves or train tracks can easily cause a motorcycle rider to slip or fall.
How to reduce the risk of injuries and accidents on motorcycles
When we want to reduce these risks, there are multiple strategies that should be applied. One is protective gear; the other is motorcycle training, both for motorcyclists and car drivers alike.
Many vendors specialize in selling protective gear for motorcycle riders. When you pick your gear, you should focus on shielding yourself from the elements, cuts, and impacts.
- Motorcycle Helmet: Motorcycle helmets protect your brain and head. They are made from a hard shell and multiple foam linings. One of them absorbs the force of impacts and redistributes the energy to keep it from hitting your head in full force. A full-face helmet offers the best protection to your face, head, and eyes.
- Motorcycle Clothing: Motorcycle clothing is made from an abrasion-resistant material like leather that keeps your skin from contact with the pavement. Additionally, it is padded and armored over vulnerable spots like knees and shoulders. The clothing shields you from rain, UV-rays, and the air flow. Breathable linings and other extras make it more comfortable.
- Motorcycle Gloves: The motorcycle gloves are equally abrasion-resistant and shield your fragile bones with armor. The base of your palm is reinforced and padded, because it is the area that gets impacted when you try to catch your fall. The padding reduces the effect of the vibration that would otherwise cause your fingers to go numb. Combined with the additional grip, this helps to control the bike better.
- Motorcycle Boots: Motorcycle boots have slip-resistant soles to keep your feet on the bike. Their toe and heel boxes are hardened. They are high enough to cover and stabilize your ankle to keep it from twisting. Especially protective boots have additional plastic shielding in the ankle area and can reach high up your leg.
The gear does help you to be more comfortable and keep control of the bike, but it is still a tool to protect yourself in case of an accident. To prevent crashes from happening altogether, the best strategy is training. Crash prevention and motorcycle safety courses teach you the right handling of common accident triggers. In these classes, motorcyclists learn how to turn and switch lanes safely and how to react to specific actions of cars around them.
Strategies like “The Four Rs” teach them to read the road, to stay on the right side of the right lane, reduce their speed and ride off the road onto the shoulder if necessary. By avoiding driving between cars and always being aware of the road ahead, the motorcyclist reduces the risk of accidents occurring. Slowing down makes the force of an impact less destructive.
At the same time, safety training for car drivers should focus more on making them aware of motorcycles and their vulnerability, to reduce the amount of times motorcycles get overlooked in traffic.
Protective gear and a slower speed will protect your body from injuries and death. At the same time, the right schooling and training can help a motorcycle rider handling dangerous situations caused by other road users, pavement condition and weather influences. If you want to drive safely, make sure to be as prepared as you can and invest in the best gear available. Take additional safety courses to train your reactions and abilities.