As any motorcycle enthusiast will tell you, riding can be exhilarating. Motorcycles are incredibly fast, maneuverable, and allow riders to enjoy the outdoors while traveling from place to place. Unfortunately, these same characteristics can make riding a motorcycle incredibly dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were approximately 88,000 motorcyclists injured during 2013, and motorcyclists were 5 times more likely to be hurt in accidents than passenger vehicle occupants.

Below, we discuss some of the ways that motorcyclist can make riding safer. In the unfortunate event that you are hurt in a motorcycle accident, you should call an attorney with experience handling motorcycle cases. Many lawyer, including this Firm, offer free initial consultations.

Always Obey the Law

One of the simplest things you can do to avoid a motorcycle accident is to follow all relevant laws and regulations. Do not speed or ignore stop signs, and always yield the right of way when appropriate. In addition, follow all motorcycle-specific regulations, including laws regarding helmets, lane splitting, and weaving in and out of stopped traffic. If you get into an accident while breaking traffic laws, it can adversely affect your ability to recover compensation – so not only will you likely be ticketed for your conduct, you will also not be able to recover compensation for any medical expenses, lost income, or other losses. Also, you should always assume that the other drivers do not see you. Defensive driving is the only way to combat those drivers who don’t belong on the roadway.

Get Professional Motorcycle Training

Riding a motorcycle is significantly more complex than riding a bicycle and is vastly different than driving a car. Professional training can go a long way in learning skills and developing habits that will keep you safe during your riding career. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has designed a RiderCourse and certifies RiderCoaches around the country, and you can find a course near you by clicking here.

Ride a Motorcycle that is Appropriate to Your Level of Skill and Experience

Don’t let your ego get the better of you. Motorcycles can vary greatly in their power, maneuverability, acceleration, and braking capabilities. Your skill level and experience will play a large role in deciding the motorcycle that is appropriate for you. For example, a fairly inexperienced rider will probably not be able to handle a large, powerful bike safely, while a more experienced rider will probably find themselves dissatisfied with a bike that has been designed for beginners. Another issue to consider is the surfaces on which you will be riding, as certain bikes may be better suited to paved roads and should not be taken on dirt or gravel surfaces. If you live in a rural area where non-paved roads are common, it may be wise to discuss that fact with the dealer when purchasing your bike.

NEVER Drink and Ride

Riding a motorcycle and drinking do not mix. Not only is it illegal to ride a motorcycle while drunk, drinking can also affect your balance, judgment, reaction time, and vision, all of which you need to ride a motorcycle safely. In addition, riding with a drunk passenger can be dangerous as well, even if you are sober, as passengers need to maintain balance just as much as operators. Finally, while riding together from one drinking establishment to another can be a large part of motorcycle culture, it is important to always have a designated driver or an alternative ride home should you inadvertently become intoxicated while out on your bike.

Practice Proper Vehicle Maintenance

Failing to practice proper motorcycle maintenance can put you at significant risk of an accident. Motorcycles are complex pieces of machinery that have thousands of individual parts, and the failure of any part has the potential to cause an accident. Of course, make sure to pay attention to obvious maintenance issues like the condition of your tires and brakes, as the failure of either can easily cause you lose control. It is also dangerous for your engine to misfire when trying to accelerate from a stop, so it is equally important to practice preventative maintenance on a regular basis. Consult your owner’s manual to determine when to take your bike in to have it inspected and follow the recommended maintenance schedule to the letter.

Avoid Hazardous Conditions whenever Possible

No motorcyclist wants to get caught out in the rain or snow. Not only is it uncomfortable to be outdoors in bad weather, it can also make riding extremely dangerous. With only two points of contact on the ground, the results can be devastating if your motorcycle loses traction. Because of the risks associated with riding a motorcycle in bad weather, it is best to simply avoid doing so when possible. Always check the forecast before you take your motorcycle out, and in the event that you do get caught in a storm, pull over until conditions improve or find another way home.