Riders have been cooped up all winter and will likely deem any sunny day as a good one for a ride, but caution is crucial for both riders and those driving cars and trucks. This is the message of the national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

By the numbers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) offers some interesting statistics from 2017 (the most recent year with complete data) to consider before getting back on the bike this year. Highlights include that the number of motorcycle related deaths went down 3% in 2017 to 5,172. It is also worth noting that 28% of motorcycle-related fatalities involved riders over the legal limit for alcohol. And finally, it best to remember that even under the best of circumstances, driving a motorcycle is 28 times more dangerous than driving a car or truck.

Defensive driving tips

Tips for increasing a rider’s chances of arriving safely include:

  • Wear a helmet: While Kansas and Missouri do not require helmet use for adults, helmets reduce the chances of fatality in a motorcycle accident by an estimated 37%.  They also reduce the chances of brain injuries by an estimated 67%.
  • Assume drivers do not see you: In light of the distracted driving epidemic, riders need to be prepared for drivers to wander out of lanes, not yield the right of way and omit other rules of the road.
  • Do a safety check before each ride: This includes checking the lights, the air in the tire and the brakes. Gas and oil are also recommended to avoid breakdowns on the road.
  • Wear proper gear: This includes protective eyeglasses, thick leather or fabric designed for riding, gloves and sturdy footwear. Wearing brightly colored clothing with reflective material makes riders more visible to others on the road.
  • Follow the rules of the road: Many are used to bending the traffic rules when driving a car, which can be a fatal mistake when on a motorcycle.
  • Ride sober: Avoid consuming alcohol and be mindful of the effects of illegal drugs and medications.

Riders often not at fault

Even the most conscientious rider can be injured due to the negligence of others. The injured and family members’ priority is getting necessary medical treatment, but it is often essential to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney about the potential for compensation for the loss of income, damage to property and related medical expenses.