Wednesday, April 2, 2008

TT#3--Thirteen Things about Motorcycle Safety

We ride a motorcycle, and we enjoy the sport. I’ve written about it before. Just like any other sport, preparation and training are key to success. Though I am the rider, not the driver, I have learned that many accidents are caused when four-wheeled vehicles do not see the bike. Yes, accidents are also caused by bikers who are reckless, unskilled, and perhaps filled with alcohol. They are foolish.

Safety is our first concern. Here’s what we do to be safe.

  1. Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. Tom took that when he bought the first bike. It is a one-weekend course taught in every state, and he says it is excellent. Not only did it teach him maneuvering skills and increase his confidence, he said it also made him a better 4-wheel driver because he is more aware of other motorists. Only about 10% of those involved in accidents have taken a safety course.

  2. Loud mufflers. I know, some are too loud, but the fact is, bikers use their sound as an awareness tool to ensure that others know they are on the road. Mufflers really are a safety feature.

  3. Leather jackets. Again, not to be cool; well, that, too; but leather jackets are protective. In the unlikely event of an accident, even laying down the bike at zero speed, the leather protects against scrapes and burns. Also, leather is warm. Let’s say the air temp is 60 and the motorcycle speed is 60; I think that equates to a wind chill of about 32. Yes sir, the leather feels good.

  4. Chaps and gloves. Ditto #3.

  5. DOT approved helmets. Our state and our good sense require it. I would love the wind blowing through my hair, but it won’t happen.

  6. Group riding. We like to ride in groups of three or four bikes (all drivers of which are equally committed to safety). We contend that other motorists can see the group better---and its fun.

  7. Riding in lanes. You may have seen groups of riders in what appears to be formation---a biker riding the middle line, the next one in the middle, and the next one on the outside line, each staggered behind the other. Yes, it looks good, but that’s not the reason for it. The first reason is that in formation, the bikes take the whole lane; other motorists are not likely to get confused and try to illegally pass. Another reason is that it gives the riders in the group a little extra room. If the biker on the center line slows or stops unexpectedly, the one in the middle behind him has more room to compensate. Good practice.

  8. No alcohol. Period.

  9. Controlled speed. We don’t ride the bike to get somewhere; we ride it for enjoyment. We are most comfortable at 55 or 60. I don’t do 80!

  10. Retroreflective clothing. At night, we wear a retroreflective vest. If I am riding passenger, I wear the vest; if Tom is alone he wears it. The important thing is that other motorists see us.

  11. Plan. We always discuss our destination, route, and first pit stop in advance with other riders in the group. The lead bike has responsibility for the group. He uses the rear mirror to watch what goes on in the group and hand signals to identify road hazards.

  12. Passenger behavior. It is important for the passenger to be sensitive to the driver. Sudden shifts in weight can cause problems. Also, I always wait until Tom signals that he is prepared for me to get on or off.

  13. Avoid riding in bad weather. It is not fun or safe. On one ride, we had a perfectly lovely lunch outside in Aspen CO; 30 minutes later the snow forced us to find an alternate route. Not fun.

If you are a careful biker, you know all this. If you are not a biker, perhaps this list will help you to understand bikers and to give them a little room and respect on the road. So the next time you see a group of bikers, smile, raise your hand in greeting, and think of your Thursday Thirteen friend.

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SJ Reidhead said...

I am terrified of those things!

The Pink Flamingo

Crazy Working Mom said...

Too many people don't take the necessary precautions that should be required before riding! Good for you for doing so. :)


Tisha @ CrAzY Working Mom

The Gal Herself said...

I didn't know that there was a good reason for the mufflers to be so loud. Devoted motorcyclists need more bloggers like you to get the word out. (Thanks for visiting my TT)

Lara Angelina said...

Hi! First thanks for stopping by my blog! Second, I had to mention the scripture you have in your title area. That exact one has gotten me thru so many bad times in my life, particularly divorce. I have that one framed and see it every morning on my dresser!
Finally -- good advice about biking. My boyfriend just sold his, but when we went riding, we were always conscious of being safe.
Great TT -- and so glad we met!

Nicholas said...

Very useful advice, especially about helmets.

YellowRose said...

Great list! We have some friends who own bikes and have learned from them the same tips you have's good for everyone to be aware! Today I had what seemed like an inexperienced rider take a curve to fast and almost run into me...thankfully I was watching and swerved out of his way!

Happy riding and happy TT!

Open Grove Claudia said...

This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing. When I worked DUI school, an ancient biker told me that only the non-gang bikers had the loud mufflers. He said that he didn't want to get stopped by the cops. So I guess you only have to worry about the quiet bikers?

Happy TT!

SandyCarlson said...

Didn't know the reason behind No. 2 until now. Thanks!

Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

Helmets, helmets, helmets. I know people don't like them, but they save so many lives. Thank you for posting that.

the teach said...

Kay, I've always had a soft place in my heart for bikers - my nephew is one and he is always careful about riding. His parents worry about him but that's okay - he's a careful driver. :)

lynda w said...

I've been on a motorcycle once - that was all it took for me to never want to get on one again. My brother in law thought it would be funny to try and scare me - knowing I was already scared. I still haven't recovered. Can't do jet ski's either.

It's nice to hear that you are so careful. I would almost attempt it again with someone as careful as you. :-)

Lynne said...

My sister and her husband ride also and I think she would be in total agreement with your list. :-D

Calliope said...

Good on you! Some people give out virtual punk rock points for style, etc.. I give out (and take away) motorcycle points. My favorite cousin died in a motorcycle accident, so I like to see motorcyclists who take safety seriously (and look good doing it.)

2 Motorcycle points to you.


DK said...

Hi Kay, Thanks for stopping by this week :) Love this list. My hubby and I are bicycle enthusiasts so we know all about rules and safety gear and traffic! Geesh, it takes as long to get properly geared up as it does to ride - but it's worth it. Have a great weekend and Happy TTing!

smtwngrl said...

Thanks for stopping by my list! Hope you'll come back to say hi soon!

I like your list. I've only been on a motorcycle once, with my step-dad, and it was a lot less scary than I had expected. Can't wait to ride again this summer.