Born to be Mild: Make Your Motorcycle Ride Safer

Last month, we offered some detailed advice on drivers sharing the road with motorcyclists and how to prevent an accident. Now let’s direct our attention to the cyclists in the group. As is often said, life is a two way street, and there are definitely some key actions that can prevent a sunny day’s ride from becoming a tragedy. So here is a list of ideas of what motorcyclists can do to protect themselves on the road.

Always be in a position to see traffic.
When traffic becomes bumper to bumper, it leads to two problems for motorcyclists. First, they cannot see traffic around them if they are following a large vehicle. Secondly, traffic cannot see them. So be sure to allow enough distance for adequate stopping time. This will also increase your visibility to other vehicles. What you can’t see could kill you.

Be wary of stoplights that have just turned green.
Unfortunately, many people will speed through a yellow light to avoid the delay at a red light. Be sure to check all activity at an intersection before hitting the gas and taking off.

Multi-lane roads have multi-risks.
While there are definite advantages to cruising on multi-lane highways, byways and expressways, the risk is doubled. Instead of just having to be wary of traffic in front of and behind them, motorcyclists must now be cognizant of the movement of traffic to the right and the left as well. A swerving vehicle changing lanes can lead to an accident on the opposite side if evasive action is needed. Be mindful of traffic all the way around the bike. Do whatever you can to stay out of people’s blind spots.

Dress for success.
In the event an accident cannot be avoided, you want to be sure what you are wearing not only looks good but works well. No one should even straddle a motorcycle without a helmet on. The incidence and severity of head injuries are greatly diminished through the use of a helmet that meets the national standards for safety. Protect your head!

The rest of your body should be covered in a tough material, like leather or Kevlar, and it should be brightly colored so riders can be seen easily. When the human body skids along pavement, it leaves abrasions in the skin that are grossly contaminated with fine bits of asphalt. These foreign bodies must be scrubbed out or they will leave permanent scarring, or “tattooing”, of the skin. This is an incredibly painful process and one that is totally preventable when the correct attire is worn. And while black leather may look “cool”, it makes the motorcyclist almost invisible. So add a little color to your riding gear!

Placement is everything.
When traveling in the midst of traffic, it is best to stay on the outside third of the lane, either left or right side, and not hang out in the center. This will allow you to have an escape route if a vehicle fails to stop. If you are on an open highway, hanging out on the outside part of your lane will allow you to quickly get off the road if evasive action is needed.

Enjoy the freedom of the road and the great outdoors this summer! Be mindful, however, to do everything you can to protect yourself from the hazards of the trip. Don’t spend your summer recuperating from an accident that could have been prevented. Take these suggestions to heart, and let the journey begin!

Diane SimonDiane Simon, RN, CEN, is the Trauma Coordinator/Registrar for ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital.