How to Be a Safer Motorcyclist This Season

October 14th, 2019 | by RON BELL

How to Be a Safer Motorcyclist This Season

With the riding season in full swing, New Mexico roads are filling with motorcycle riders. If you are a rider yourself, read this article for some important safety reminders that will help you enjoy your summer rides while staying out of harm’s way.

With its long, scenic routes cutting through striking alpine landscapes and moderate climate that favors outdoor activities, New Mexico is a perfect place to enjoy a motorcycle ride. Motorcycle ownership rates in the Land of Enchantment are relatively high and, every summer, New Mexican roads see an influx of motorcycle traffic. While some New Mexicans ride their two-wheelers only occasionally and mostly for pleasure, others use them regularly as a practical means of transportation that allows them to shave some time off their commute in busy city traffic. In any case, there’s no denying that motorcycles are an integral part of New Mexican motor vehicle landscape and a common sight on the state roads in the summertime.

However, even though riding a motorcycle can be both enjoyable and practical, it is also considerably more dangerous than riding a car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics, in 2016, the number of fatal motorcycle crashes per miles traveled was roughly 28 times that of car accident deaths. In 2017, motorcycle deaths accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.

As personal injury lawyers, we have talked to many motorcycle accident victims and have witnessed first hand how devastating the aftermath of such an accident can be for the life of a rider. Unfortunately, many riders suffer injuries as a result of the negligent and unsafe on-the-road behavior of car or truck drivers. However, there are also many proven safety practices that riders themselves can successfully implement to greatly increase the risk of an accident and serious injury. In this article, we present a few practical tips that will help you be a safer motorcyclist this riding season.

Riding With No License? Get One This Season

Having a valid license to operate a motorcycle is a legal requirement in most states including New Mexico. Unfortunately, some individuals decide to ignore this requirement, perhaps reasoning that since they already have a driving license for a car, they possess sufficient knowledge and experience to operate another kind of vehicle as well. Sadly, this reasoning is not only wrong but also simply dangerous. For example, according to the NHTSA statistics quoted above, in 2017, almost a third of all fatally injured motorcycle drivers were riding without a license.

Riding a motorcycle safely requires both a different set of skills than driving a car as well as the knowledge of risks unique to this activity. Such skills and knowledge can be gained during a motorcycle rider training course that allows prospective riders to obtain a license. Therefore, if you own a motorcycle or would like to become a rider, do not take any chances when it comes to your safety – subscribe to a course and obtain your license before hitting the road.

Wear Protective Gear

Wearing a helmet in New Mexico is a legal requirement only for motorcycle riders and passengers under 18 years of age. However, all motorcyclists should make it a personal rule to never ride without a helmet. The safety benefits of this most accessible and most reliable piece of riding equipment are well-established. For example, according to data from various studies gathered and compared by NHTSA, helmets are “29-35 percent effective at preventing motorcycling deaths and substantially more effective against deaths from brain injury”. They also offer reliable protection from brain injuries that are not necessarily fatal but can cause debilitating and often irreversible changes in the brain.

Head trauma, however, isn’t the only kind of injury motorcycle riders are likely to sustain in an accident. Road rash is another common kind of trauma. Road rash is a skin injury that occurs when a rider falls off the motorcycle and slides along the road at a high speed. While road rash isn’t usually life-threatening, it is a painful injury that takes a long time to heal and entails a high risk of infection. To prevent road rash, riders should wear protective clothing made of leather or similar sturdy materials. Such attire should cover a rider’s arms, hands, legs, feet, and ankles. While wearing full clothing may feel uncomfortable – especially on a warm day – it is no doubt a small price to pay for protection from painful and debilitating injuries.

Avoid Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is the practice of driving a motorcycle between lanes or between rows of cars moving slowly due to heavy traffic. While lane splitting is popular among motorcycle riders because it allows to move quickly through urban areas despite traffic jams, it is a risky maneuver that greatly increases the odds of a collision. A rider driving his or her motorcycle between the lanes or cars can get hit when a car driver unexpectedly opens the door or suddenly changes lanes. This practice is illegal in most of the U.S. states, including New Mexico, and that it should be avoided at all cost.

Remembering about the basic safety practices discussed in this article will greatly decrease the risk of getting into a dangerous accident while riding a motorcycle and will help you enjoy this pleasant activity not only this summer but in the years to come. Ron Bell Injury Lawyers wish all motorcyclists good weather, enjoyable rides, and an accident-free, safe riding season this year.

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