The month of May tends to open the throttle on good weather which means the riding season has arrived. So, it certainly makes perfect sense for May to represent Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
Motorcyclists should make safety their #1 priority anytime they mount up but it helps to inject a reminder from time to time considering some sobering statistics. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclist's deaths occurred 28 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles in 2016.
Therefore, we enlisted the help of Lorri Carney, a motorcycle instructor since 2011 with Team Oregon, a non-profit organization that partners with the Oregon Department of Transportation and provides mandatory motorcycle riding training before a rider can receive an endorsement, who offered 10 tips for motorcyclists to ride safely on the street.
1. Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Even experienced all-weather riders can drift back into bad or lazy habits. Safety courses are a good way to "sharpen the saw" of your riding skills.
2. Do a Pre-Ride Check
See your owner's manual for tips on fluid levels, tire inflation and wear indicators, chain adjustments and so on.
3. Always Wear a Helmet
You are 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash without a helmet and three times more likely to suffer brain injuries without a helmet. There are several types of hel-mets with different levels of protection.
4. Wear Good Riding Gear So You Can Walk Away if the Unthinkable Happens
Riding gear will not prevent every injury but can minimize them. Gear should fit comforta-bly in the riding position and be weather appropriate.
5. Ride Un-impaired - It's Not Just Drugs or Alcohol
Everyone has heard about alcohol, illegal drugs and recreational drugs as impairments. Pre-scription and over-the-counter medications can also impair riding. Being tired, hungry, sore, thirsty, stressed, angry or dealing with temperature extremes all have an effect on your riding. Clues that you are becoming impaired include mental wandering, nodding off, slowed reaction times, and being surprised. Recognize your impairment and take a break to recover.
6. Look Where You Want to Go
More importantly TURN YOUR HEAD in the direction that you want to go and scan for hazards with your eyes. It is easy to target fixate on a hazard, such as gravel in a turn. If it is noted as you scan, you can change your path of travel to one that avoids the hazard and your bike will follow. Head turns are not intuitive, but they WORK!
7. Ride Smart
Drivers aren't looking for vehicles that are smaller than cars. Be predictable - a skilled rider can ride circles around most cars, but putting yourself where they don't expect you can create a hazard. Be alert to the smallest clues from drivers. They may be changing lanes or turning. It is especially dangerous if they're turning left. Keep a good following distance, allowing for plenty of reaction time. Increase following distance when there is reduced visibility, heavy traffic, faster speeds, inclement weather and poor road conditions, among others.
8. Don't Hide in Traffic, Make it a Point to Be Seen
Choose a lane position out of blind spots. Wear gear that is visible during the day (brightly colored) and at night (retro-reflective). Move around within the lane to improve your line of sight and visibility to other traffic. Do what it takes to be visible to those you share the roads with.
9. Ride Your Own Ride
It is easy to be towed into riding someone else's speed, skills, or length of the ride. Plan a route and destination before you start a ride so you won't feel pressured to keep up with the faster rider(s). When cornering, look past the rider ahead of you to choose your own line. Length of the ride should be discussed before and during the ride. But, even if you agree to a ride length say something if you become tired or impaired.
10. Too Many Motorcycle Accidents are Caused by an Inability to Successfully Go Around Corners
Usually caused by trying to take corners too fast. . If riders turned their heads and looked further up the road (specifically into the turns sooner) they would see what was coming and adjust speed appropriately (more slowing or slowing sooner), because no one WANTS to crash.
Lorri Carney has saddled up since 2006 and in that time owned six motorcycles, her current ride a 2015 Triumph Tiger 800 named Gwendolyn. After five years of riding she joined Team Oregon as an instructor, one of the best decisions she's ever made.