Motorcycles require more skill and coordination to drive than cars. They’re also much more dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the number of deaths on motorcycles is over 26 times the number in cars (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles#cite-text-0-0). On a motorcycle, there are fewer layers of protection between your body and the road, so whether you’re a new or experienced cyclist you need to follow extra precautions when going for a ride. Follow these 7 tips to better protect yourself on the road.
1. Wear a helmet and protective eyewear
Virginia motorcyclists are required by law to wear a helmet while driving. If you happen to be traveling through a state that doesn’t require a helmet, it’s still a good idea to wear one at all times. And when buying a helmet, look for one with the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker.
2. Carry a first-aid kit and a charged cell phone
Little known fact: even an old, unused mobile phone (even one of those old Nokia bricks that could survive a nuclear winter) can still make 911 calls. Carry one of these on your motorcycle at all times in case your regular phone dies.
3. Protect yourself with leather, look cool in the process
There’s a reason motorcyclists and leather go hand-in-hand: leather protects you on the road. On a motorcycle, you’re more exposed to the elements—everything from flying gravel to bugs can sting you if you’re not protected. Invest in a leather jacket and high leather boots to save yourself the pain of flying debris on the road. Also: remember to wear bright and reflective clothing when riding at night.
4. Do an equipment check every month or before a long trip
Check your fluid levels and, if something is low, take a look underneath your motorcycle for leaks. Also, make sure your taillights, headlights, and turn signals are all in working order. Take a look at your tires for any cracks, bulges, signs of uneven wear, or low pressure. Make sure your horn works too, and don’t be afraid to use it—the horn is one of the most underutilized forms of communication on the road.
5. Drive defensively
Expert motorcyclists often say to new drivers, “Assume that you are invisible and ride your motorcycle accordingly.” Try riding in the part of the lane where you are most visible to other cars and stay out of their blind spots when possible. Some drivers will already have a negative connotation with motorcyclists, so weaving in and out of lanes in stalled traffic, riding on shoulders, and being generally inconsiderate creates a negative image for all motorcyclists.
6. Don’t succumb to peer pressure
Whether it’s a night at the bar or a day ride in the country, peer pressure can be dangerous. Know your limits—never drive tired or drunk, even if all of your friends are, and make sure to always ride within your skill sets, even if your friends are all bobbing and weaving between lanes.
7. Take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course
An MSF course is a must-do for new cyclists. You’ll learn how to properly perform emergency evasive maneuvers, you’ll go over your cycle’s operating manual, and you’ll learn a plethora of advanced techniques. As a bonus, taking the course may provide insurance premium discounts.
It’s always best to insure any vehicle you drive, but if you opt out of coverage, you must pay the Virginia DMV an Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee. This fee doesn’t give you coverage, so if you’re in an accident you won’t be in trouble for not having insurance, but you will be personally liable for costs associated with the accident.
At WBR Insurance (http://www.WBRInsurance.com) we offer a full portfolio of insurance, including motorcycle insurance. We pride ourselves in establishing personal relationships with our customers to assist you in protecting what matters most. If you have an insurance need, give us a call at 757-340-0028 or visit our website www.WBRInsurance.com.