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Summer safety advice to motorcyclists
US insurance company offers advice on taking to two wheels safely as the start of the motorcycling season gets underway in America.
As the month of May gets underway and the USA sees it as “Motorcycle Safety Month”, insurance company Geico is providing the nation’s riders with a few tips and reminders on how to stay safe on two wheels as the weather improves during the summer months.
The advice offered by Geico boils down to equipment and driving style, both of which are significant factors in being a safe rider:
Equipment for personal protection plays a vital role in preventing injury or death if the rider is involved in an accident. At the top of the list is a good helmet. The USA is one of very few countries in the world and perhaps the only country which isn’t in the third world that doesn’t have consistent motorcycle helmet laws.
Despite the massive body of evidence that it is the single most effective method of preventing injury or death, there are still legislators within the country that are actively preventing the use of helmets being made a legal necessity, something which bewilders experts and law-makers in other jurisdictions.
However, Geico’s advice on helmets is clear. The company describes it as “the rider’s best friend” and should have Department of Transportation (DoT) approval and include a visor for preventing the rider’s face being hit by flying debris, dirt or insects.
The company also advocates the use of protective clothing to minimise injury from abrasion on the road surface. Such clothing should also be reflective to improve the chances of the rider being seen in poor visibility by other road users.
Maintaining the motorcycle itself is also important for its safe operation, especially tyres, lights and the operation of clutch and brake controls. Avoid “dark siding” (the use of car tyres on the rear wheel) on solo motorcycles. For more information on the safe use of tyres, see our article investigating the dark side.
Staying within the law reduces the chances of having an accident on the roads, regardless of the vehicle being used. Some laws vary from state to state but it’s the rider’s responsibility to know the law as it applies to wherever the motorcycle is being ridden. Although the laws are also different around the country with respect to drink driving, there should only be one rule that all motorcyclists should govern themselves by – don’t drink any alcohol before riding. Any amount of alcohol impairs judgement and slows reaction time, the two most crucial elements of successfully controlling a two-wheeled vehicle.
Other important riding habits are to drive defensively, taking care in poor weather, using daytime headlights and giving way to other drivers, regardless of who has the right of way. Don’t linger in a four-wheeled vehicle’s blind spot and be alert to road hazards such as spilled fuel or deterioration of road surfaces.
With more two-wheeled vehicles being on the roads than ever before, there is a growing service infrastructure supporting riders, one of which is the provision of training courses. Geico recommends that whatever the rider’s level of skill, a refresher course can be of great benefit, particularly after a prolonged lull in the rider’s motorcycling career.