If you’ve been riding for a while you probably already know that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. What you may not know, though, is that this awareness campaign was started in the early 1980’s by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). Although the AMA’s goal with the campaign was to raise awareness among 4-wheel vehicle drivers of their 2-wheel vehicle compadres, it doesn’t hurt for those of us who ride motorcycles to brush up on the safety measures WE can take now and again to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to stay safe on the road.
A lot of riders don’t want to hear this, but even riders with decades of experience can end up making basic safety mistakes that could mean the difference between life and death in the event of an accident. So, even if you think this article isn’t for you, it doesn’t hurt to give it a quick run through… just in case you forgot one or two of the tips below.
FL Biker’s Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Tips
- Check your bike before every ride
If you aren’t already, you need to get in the habit of giving your bike a good once-over before every ride. Check out your tires, wheels, fluids, cables, lights, and stand. Make sure everything is in good working order before you open up the throttle and take off. You can be the most skilled motorcyclist in the world, but if there’s a mechanical issue with your bike, you’re risking your life. You can use the T-CLOCS inspection checklist to help you.
- Know the rules of the road
Different states have different laws for motorcyclists and different laws that cars have to follow in regard to driving near motorcyclists. It’s good to familiarize yourself with the laws in your home state and any states you plan on riding to. If you want more information on Florida’s motorcycle laws, click here.
- Drive defensively
Maybe when it comes to football the best defense is a strong offense, but that line of thinking doesn’t extend to motorcycle riding. Out on the road, the best defense is a very strong, very aware defense. Everyone on the road should be riding defensively, but motorcycles especially. Being on two wheels means that you need to be paying attention to about a million things at once. You need to:
- stay out of every car’s blind spots,
- always leave room for an escape route,
- keep your distance from semi-trucks,
- anticipate other drivers’ moves,
- pay attention to turn signals (how long they’ve been on and whether or not they’re indicating an actual turn/lane change or if the driver simply forgot),
- check your mirrors to make sure the car behind you is keeping enough distance,
- and, even when engine braking, flash your brake light when slowing down and before stopping.
- Ride your own ride
Don’t put your life at risk trying to show off. If you’re riding in a group and there are riders with more skill than you, let them have at it. Your ride is your own. Respect your skill level and your limits and you’ll live to ride another day. Also, it should go without saying, but don’t ride tired and don’t drink and ride. It’s just not worth the risk.
- Wear safety gear (ATGATT)
No one is going to force you to wear the proper gear, but at the end of the day it could be what saves your life. A padded leather jacket, reinforced boots, gloves, and even, yes, a full-face helmet could save your skin and potentially your life. It may not be what you’ve always done and maybe you’re even one of the lucky ones who’s never been in an accident, but it only takes the one time to end your life. Is it really worth feeling the wind on your face?
New riders learn the acronym ATGATT which stands for All the gear all the time, but this is one lesson we should all be taking with us out of the “new riders handbook” as we continue on our riding journey.
What are tips you have for other riders to stay safe as the summer months approach? Are there any we missed? Go ahead and let us know in the comments so we can help keep one another safe out there!