As summer approaches, Tennesseans are eager to venture outdoors to experience their favorite lake or nearest concert or festival.
To reach these outdoor venues, many will drive cars, but some of us will choose a more free-spirited means of travel, the chrome horse of the highway. Motorcycles are a summer favorite for many in terms of transportation. The freedom of the road, the sun on their face and the wind in their hair calls out in a much louder voice than a car or minivan.
Because motorcycle traffic increases tremendously during the summer months, the National Highway Safety Administration has deemed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As this is the case, now is a good time to look at what motorcyclists need to do to remain safe on the road.
As motorcycle traffic increases, so does the risk of motorcycle accidents. For that reason, it is essential that all drivers, whether on two wheels or four, be aware of some good common sense tips to avoid hazards and keep people safe. However, given the relative small size of the motorcycle versus the car, I wanted to take the opportunity to remind bikers to be particularly vigilant.
Basic Motorcycle Safety Tips
The Tennessee Department of Safety has published certain common sense tips regarding motorcycle safety. These include:
- Always wear protective gear.
- Ride within your limits.
- Get proper training.
- Be aware of your surroundings and do not tailgate others.
- Don’t hang out in the “No-Zone,” (the vehicle blind spot.)
- Be cautious when riding in inclement weather.
- Don’t Drink and Ride!
However, these are so common sense they really don’t get to the heart of the matter. The real risk of the road is CARS!
Recognize that most car drivers don’t like motorcyclists. Motorcyclists make car drivers uncomfortable. Many car drivers don’t think motorcyclists have the same right to the road. While they are wrong, they are also bigger. So govern yourself accordingly.
Safety Tips to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents
Here are some additional tips to keep motorcyclists safe on the road:
- Pick a lane and stay in it. A motorcyclist has all of the same rights and duties of a car driver. For that reason, pick your lane and know you have a right to it. Drive in the middle of the lane. Don’t hedge to a side or give any sense that a car has a greater right of way than you.
- Don’t drive on the shoulder. Given their small size, motorcycles can go places cars can’t. An example is the shoulder. However, driving on the shoulder is not only illegal, it is dangerous. Stay in a lane of traffic. You certainly don’t want to be traveling at a high rate of speed past a car that has no reason to suspect you are there.
- Don’t bob and weave through traffic. Again, don’t let the portability of a motorcycle cause you to do things that are not safe. We have all seen motorcyclists cutting in and out of traffic in spaces a car could never fit. This is not safe. Your safety totally depends on the predictability of the cars around you and the flow of traffic. Given the number of distracted drivers on the road, you don’t want to be in this position.
- Don’t bypass congestion by driving on the lane divider. On occasion, motorcyclists will drive the center line between cars stopped for traffic. This is a bad idea. I have actually had a lawsuit where a road raging driver saw a biker doing this in his rear view mirror and opened his door to knock him down! I don’t want this to be you!
- Know your limits. Anyone with money can go buy a Harley. That doesn’t mean you know how to ride it. There is nothing wrong with taking the time to become skilled at what you do. You probably want to stick to the back roads for a little while before you jump on this interstate and start riding like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.
By following these simple reminders above, you can have a fun and safe summer enjoying your motorcycle on the open road.