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How Do You Stay Safe on a Motorcycle?


More than 80% of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist. In 2018, a total of 4,985 motorcyclists lost their lives to fatal motorcycle accidents. Per vehicle mile driven, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger car occupants.

With all these statistics, you may never want to ride a motorcycle. If you crave the thrill of the open road, however, there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe:

Be a Licensed Rider

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

Although motorcycle-licensing regulations vary, all States require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver’s license.” In New Hampshire, motorcyclists must pass a vision test and prove their fitness to drive a motorcycle by passing a ‘Basic Rider Class’ or taking a DMV motorcycle skills test.

Having the right training is one of the easiest ways to prevent an accident. In 2017, 29% of motorcyclists who died were riding without valid motorcycle licenses.

Get Insured

Our very own David Gottesman had the following to say about motorcycle insurance:

Carrying a substantial liability insurance policy with uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is very important. Many accidents occur when uninsured or underinsured drivers cause devastating injuries to motorcyclists. By carrying the highest liability coverage you can get, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you will have the resources you need to recover from anything that happens to you. This could be the cheapest and most meaningful investment you make when purchasing a motorcycle and taking to the road.

Choose the Right Bike

Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that cruisers, standard motorcycles, and touring bikes have the lowest death rates. Sport and supersport motorcycles, on the other hand, are overrepresented in accidents with serious injuries and deaths. The death rate for supersport riders is about 4 times as high as the rate for motorcyclists who ride cruisers or standards.

No matter what motorcycle you choose, make sure your bike is equipped with an antilock braking system (ABS). The rate of fatal crashes is 31% lower for motorcycles with ABS.

Prepare Your Ride

Before you go out, check the weather. If it’s raining, snowing, or otherwise unsafe, reschedule your ride. Motorcyclists have less traction and lower visibility than other vehicles, and you’re better safe than sorry.

You should also ensure your motorcycle is in good working order. Check the following before taking off:

  • Tire pressure and tread depth
  • Hand and foot brakes
  • Clutch and throttle
  • Headlights and taillights
  • Turn signals
  • Fluid levels
  • Mirrors
  • Horn

A tire blowout, oil leak, or any other malfunction could be devastating on the road. Sometimes, defective motorcycle parts are responsible for serious accidents, so checking your equipment beforehand is always a good idea.

Wear a Helmet

A proper helmet is the most important piece of motorcycle safety equipment, and it can reduce your risk of dying in a crash by 37%. Riders without helmets are also 3 times more likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries. When you choose a helmet, remember that a full-coverage helmet offers the most protection and look for the DOT sticker to ensure your helmet meets federal safety standards.

Click here for the NHTSA guide on choosing a helmet.

And Other Safety Gear

Whenever you ride, you should completely cover your arms and legs with leather or heavy denim. Choose bright colors and/or reflective material to make yourself more visible. Some motorcyclists use the acronym ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) to keep themselves safe on the road.

Motorcycle safety gear includes:

  • Helmets
  • Jackets
  • Pants
  • Riding suits
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection

Protecting your body with safety gear can mitigate injuries in the event of a motorcycle accident, so investing in the right equipment is always worth it.

Drive Defensively

When you ride a motorcycle, assume other drivers on the road do not see you. Be extra careful at intersections and plan escape paths whenever possible. For motorcyclists, other vehicles are not the only risk on the road, so you need to be ready to evade road debris and other hazardous conditions, as well.

And Follow the Rules of the Road

Per the NHTSA:

Experienced riders know local traffic laws - and they don't take risks. Obey traffic lights, signs, speed limits, and lane markings; ride with the flow of traffic and leave plenty of room between your bike and other vehicles; and always check behind you and signal before you change lanes.”

Never Drink and Ride

Alcohol is a factor in approximately 43% of all fatal motorcycle crashes. In 2018, 26% of fatally injured motorcyclists had a BAC at or above 0.08. Alcohol and other drugs can negatively affect your judgment, coordination, balance, and ability to operate a motorcycle.

Even if you’ve only had 1 drink, skip the motorcycle ride. You should also be cautious with prescription medication and avoid riding if you are drowsy or distracted.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?

When motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it’s usually the other driver who violates the motorcyclists right of way. Unfortunately, this means that you can still get an accident – even if you do everything right.

If another driver’s negligence causes your accident, our team at Gottesman & Hollis, P.A. can help.

Call our attorneys at (603) 506-4600 today or click here to contact us online.

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