Thursday, December 08, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident - Guest Post by Gina Williams

When Gina Williams of Houston, Texas, requested to write about motorcycle safety for my blog, I thought at first that she didn't realize that I am bicyclist not a motorcycle rider. But I quickly decided her topic was important since we all share the road: bicycles, motorcycles, cars. Plus, I can immediately think of 10 friends who ride motorcycles and want them and all riders to be safer. Tragically, Gina lost a good friend to a motorcycle death. This loss inspired her to spread the word on safety through this website. Please share this post with other motorcycle riders and friends. Here's Gina's list:

Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident
For every motorcycle on the road, there are nearly 40 passenger vehicles.  Yet slightly more than 1 in every 10 accidents in the United States involves a motorcycle.  Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to injuries and death in the event of an accident.  Given this, motorcyclists must take every precaution to protect themselves on the road. Below is a list of 10 ways to avoid being involved in a motorcycle accident (in random order).
Full Gear Versus Fool's Gear! Photo Credit: National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators
1. Be Aware of Fellow Motorists.
Motorcyclists must be fully aware at all times of their fellow motorists in order to act quickly in the event of a possible collision.  
• 56% of crashes that result in a motorcyclists’ deaths were multiple-vehicle crashes
• Of those multiple-vehicle crashes, 89% involved only 2 vehicles
• For the passenger vehicle drivers involved in two-vehicle motorcycle crashes, 35% of the driver-related factor was failure to yield right-of-way; failure to yield right-of-way is generally caused by a driver’s inability to see a motorcyclist.  
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published 2007 report after analyzing fatality data of two-vehicle motorcycle crashes from 2001 to 2005.  

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings.
Constantly check the road ahead of you for possible hazards, such as animals, debris, and roadway defects.  Hazards can be a direct or an indirect cause of an accident, i.e. avoiding a hazard can be the cause of an accident.  

3. Follow the Road Laws.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and speeding are known causes of motorcycle accidents.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcyclists were found to have engaged either in drugs, alcohol, or excessive speeds in 90 percent of motorcycle accidents involving no other motorists.  

4Do Not Lane Split. Also known as lane sharing, lane splitting is only legally allowed in California.  Lane splitting in other states puts you at risk; other motorists do not expect it, and thus they will not watch for motorcyclists engaging in it.  It simply isn’t safe!

5. Practice Preventative Measures.
Practice preventative measures, such as gripping your bike’s handlebars properly.  Holding your handlebars in a ready position for emergency braking is just one preventative measure you can take to protect yourself.

6. Practice Preventative Skills.
Periodically practice your preventative skills.  Emergency braking is perhaps the most important of these skills.  Laying your bike on its side is no longer the safest option in emergency situations, braking is.  Find a safe location and practice emergency braking; use both your front and back brakes.

7. Rid Yourself of Distractions.
Advanced motorcycle safety classes can save lives
Stow cellphones, your iPod, and other distractions while driving.  Wear properly fitting clothes so that you can ride comfortably and without constantly adjusting straps, strings, etc.

8Safely Position Yourself on the Road.
Always try to position yourself in a lane that will allow you the most room possible if you need to avoid an accident. In most instances, this will the lane closest to the shoulder of the road.

9. Take a Motorcycle Safety Course.
Motorcycle safety courses are not just for beginners. Advanced safety courses for seasoned riders exist as well.  They serve as a resource for new information and a refresher course for old information.

10. Wear Proper Motorcycle Gear.
Wearing a helmet, protective clothing, shoes, and gloves are a must for motorcyclists. Helmets save thousands of lives every year according to the NHTSA. Protective clothing, shoes and gloves protect riders from the elements and injuries in the event of a crash; additionally, proper shoes and gloves help riders maintain a proper grip on their vehicle. Wearing brightly colored gear is just another precaution you can take as it makes it more likely that you will be seen by other motorists.

Gina Williams is a writer based in Houston, Texas, who is passionate about educating people about motorcycle safety tips. She currently rides a Yamaha FZ1 as a hobby, not as a daily commuter.
For more on safety and Gina's writing, visit

NOTE from Karen:

1. Here's a good source for motorcycle safety, written by Geoff Drake:
Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way

2.  At least motorcycles can't text well driving! (I hope). This is scary info in this article.

"Despite laws, more drivers texting behind the wheel" - Chicago Sun-Times