by Scott Blumenshine
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013 (the most recent year for which there are complete statistics) 4,668 motorcyclists in the U.S. lost their lives in accidents. Of all motorcycle fatalities, 136 occurred in Illinois. Another 88,000 in the U.S. were injured.
More than a third of fatal motorcycle accidents involved riders who were speeding. While it is impossible to totally prevent motorcycle accidents, if you are a new motorcycle rider, there are measures you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a fatality or injury statistic.
Of course, simply having a license does not make you a better rider. It does indicate you have at least learned what you need to learn to pass a state test. It shows you are taking motorcycle riding seriously and have put forth the effort to know the rules of the road.
As tempting as it might be to have your best friend, or a friend of a friend, teach you how to ride, professional training is your friend. You should be able to find a program designed to teach you, in just one weekend, the basics of riding so you can pass the licensing exam. Many insurance companies offer reduced rates to motorcyclists who have taken and passed a professional training course. You can also take advanced training for improving your riding skills as well as learning off-road riding, dirt riding or even racing.
Understandably, you are excited to get started on your riding “career.” You want the best bike you can afford and the one you have been drooling over, marking time until you can call it your own. In reality, the best bike is a “starter bike.” A bike that is used, less powerful than your dream bike and mechanically sound. A reliable bike. One that already has a few scratches. You ask, “Why?”
Although Illinois does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) recommends motorcycle riders and their passengers voluntarily wear helmets. NHTSA statistics estimate that 1,630 lives were saved because riders were wearing helmets, and if all riders wore them, another 715 could have been saved.
In addition to a helmet, consider investing in equipment designed specifically for motorcycle riders like gloves, boots, long pants and a jacket. If you fall off your bike and skid across the pavement, you will be glad you were protected from cuts and abrasions by having on your long pants, gloves and motorcycle jacket. Rain gear is also a good idea.
You may be a solitary person who looks forward to taking long rides all by yourself. Or, you may be like many motorcyclists who enjoy the camaraderie of riding with others, whether with just a few other riders or with a large group. Check online for a group that enjoys the same types of riding experience you enjoy, or check with the AMA.
No matter how many rules you follow or how careful you are, you have no control over other drivers. Cars and trucks collide with motorcycle riders. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact us at the Law Offices of Meyer & Blumenshine for a free evaluation. We will review the circumstances of your accident and advise you on how to proceed.