May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time for a refresher on how to hit the road safely as you dust off your bike for the summer. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have compiled lists of motorcycle safety tips in recognition of the event.
Wear a helmet
The best thing you, a motorcyclist, can do to protect yourself is to wear a DOT-approved helmet. The NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,859 motorcyclists in 2016, but another 802 riders could have survived accidents if they were using helmets.
Helmet use is up across the board, but it is significantly high in states that require by law all motorcyclists to wear helmets. Though Pennsylvania does not require helmets for riders over 21, statistics show that Pennsylvania riders wearing helmets were less likely to die in a crash.
A good rule of thumb for motorcyclists is to ride like cars don’t see you, because, often, they can’t. Wearing reflective materials can increase your visibility, so can keeping ample room between yourself and passenger vehicles.
Obey traffic laws: ride the speed limit, signal lane changes and ride with the flow of traffic. Avoid distractions, and always keep your eyes – and your mind – on the road.
Get the right gear
Not only should you wear a helmet, protect yourself by covering your arms, legs, hands and feet completely. Wear leather, heavy denim or other synthetic materials designed specifically for motorcyclists. Covering up not only helps you in case of a crash, it will also prevent dehydration during those long summer rides.
While nothing beats a cold beer on a hot summer day, don’t get on your bike after you’ve been drinking. Drinking and driving is always dangerous, but the risk skyrockets when you ride a motorcycle after drinking. Of the 174 motorcycle riders killed in on Pennsylvania roadways in 2016, 23 percent of them were over the legal alcohol limit.
Motorcycling is supposed to be fun, especially in the summer. Enjoy yourself. But as you cruise around in the coming months, always make sure to keep your safety at the forefront.