Be Prepared for National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Warmer weather can entice motorcyclists to get back on their bikes and out on the road. And since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, it’s particularly relevant for riders to take the proper precautions to help ensure that each ride is both safe and enjoyable. Consider these tips on protective gear and safe riding techniques before you take your bike out on the road again:
Equipment and Gear
- Helmet: The National Safety Council (NSC) suggests that motorcycle riders wear a full-coverage helmet because it may offer the most protection. When purchasing a helmet, to see if it meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards, look for the DOT sticker usually found on the back of the helmet.
- Upper Body: Look for full-fingered gloves that fit properly, says the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). In addition, long-sleeved jackets made of abrasive-resistant fabrics or leather can help protect against injury in the event of a crash, according to the MSF.
- Lower Body: Riding pants should be made of the same types of materials as the jackets, says the MSF, and these protective garments often include thick padding sewn into the joints and other areas. Boots should go over the ankle and feature oil-resistant, rubber-based composite soles for good grip.
- Bike: The NSC recommends that riders choose a motorcycle that fits your body type and riding style. Your motorcycle should not be too big or too heavy for you to handle. Also, make sure you have the right type of motorcycle for your needs: street bike, off-road bike or dual-purpose bike.
Riding Skills and Habits
Beyond having the right motorcycle and protective gear, riders can help improve their safety by practicing some simple riding skills, according to the NSC:
- Know the rules of the road.
- Consider taking a motorcycle safety course.
- Drive defensively, especially at intersections.
- Don’t speed.
- Watch for hazards like potholes, manhole covers, oil slicks, puddles, debris, railroad tracks and gravel.
- Use headlights at all times.
- Assume you are invisible to other motorists and position yourself to be seen
Making sure you have the right gear and proper training can help prepare you for a safe motorcycle season. Take extra care this month to help make safety a priority while you enjoy the open road.
Originally published May 2010