Warmer springtime weather means one thing to experienced riders: time to pull the hog out of hibernation and hit the open road once again. If you are riding a motorcycle for the first time this spring, safe operation will be your top priority. To ensure that your first ride goes as smoothly as possible, keep the following tips in mind.
Always wear a helmet
This safety tip should be obvious, but the importance of wearing a helmet every single time you take your bike out on the road always bears mentioning. Not only is wearing a helmet mandated by U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218, it is also just plain common sense. Geico.com reports that motorcycle riders are five times more likely to incur a critical head injury when not wearing a helmet, so this is very much a matter of life and death. Wearing a helmet with a visor is doubly smart because it allows you to protect your eyes from dirt, bugs and other debris that can lead to limited vision.
It is always best practice to drive defensively when you are behind the wheel; when you are riding a motorcycle, driving defensively is critical. ConsumerReports.com cites a study conducted by the University of Southern Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research that found drivers of cars to be at fault in approximately 60 percent of all collisions involving a motorcycle. As such, you should always assume that drivers are not aware of your presence. You should take steps to make yourself as visible as possible, always check your mirrors and be aware of surrounding conditions every time you ride. As the Department of Motor Vehicles notes, you should avoid any and all elements of distracted driving. DMV.org suggests “[leaving] yourself an out” in the sense that you have a plan for what will happen if you should have to swerve or slam on the brakes suddenly.
Before you get on the road, you need to make sure that you are wearing the appropriate gear for a ride. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this includes covering arms and legs with heavy denim or leather, wearing boots or shoes that cover your ankles and wearing gloves for optimal grip and protection. If your helmet does not come with a visor, purchase a pair of goggles to protect your eyes. If you plan on riding in overcast or nighttime conditions, be certain to wear bright colors or reflective material.
Before taking your motorcycle for a spin, Geico.com recommends going through a checklist of things to give a once-over. This includes checking tires, headlights, taillights, signals and fluid levels and checking for signs of spills or leaks beneath the bike before hopping on. Once you get on the bike, make sure the clutch and throttle work, ensure that the mirrors are in the proper spots and test the brakes and horn. Once you have ascertained all is well, you can be on your way.
When you are riding your bike for the first time, it is imperative to know how to stay safe. Experienced riders utilize these tips because they are proven means of staying out of trouble.
This article is presented by Colonial Honda of Dartmouth in N. Dartmouth, Massachusetts.