Madison, WI,
16:32 PM

Ride Safely This Summer

Enjoy the open road this motorcycle season.


Summer is approaching and many drivers will be polishing their motorcycles for a new season. While nothing may compare to the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, keep safety in mind so you’ll live to ride another day.

It’s a simple fact that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. Because motorcycles lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, a rider is more likely to be injured or killed in an accident. Per mile traveled in 2011, the number of deaths on motorcycles was more than 30 times the number in cars.

If you ride a motorcycle, here are some ways you can be safer on the road.

  • The number one safety tip is to always wear a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent.
  • Always wear reflective clothing to make yourself as visible as possible.
  • If you’re a new rider, attend a motorcycle rider training course.
  • Skip the flip-flops and T-shirts. Wear heavy shoes or boots, gloves, pants and a jacket. In the event of an accident, they're all that separate you from the pavement.
  • If you’ll be carrying a passenger, make sure your motorcycle has a passenger seat and foot pegs.
  • Don’t buy more motorcycle than you can handle in terms of size and power.
  • Select a motorcycle that fits. You should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground without having to be on tiptoes. Handlebars and controls should also be within easy reach.
  • Get antilock brakes (ABS). The rate of fatal crashes is 31 percent lower for motorcycles with antilock brakes than for those without them.
  • Some motorcycles are riskier than others. High horsepower supersport motorcycles have driver death rates about four times as high as cruiser or standard motorcycles.
  • Before every ride, perform a "T-CLOCS" inspection – tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and stands.
  • Practice emergency braking and steering in an empty parking lot.
  • Ride defensively. Watch for drivers who are texting or talking on the phone, cars swerving from lane to lane, and vehicles emerging from side streets. Don’t tailgate and keep a safe following distance.
  • Watch for road hazards such as sand, wet leaves and pebbles, which can cause a bike to slide unexpectedly. Slow down as much as possible before encountering them. To reduce the chance of skidding, approach railroad tracks, potholes and other hazards at as close to a right angle as possible.
  • Avoid bad weather. Rain cuts your visibility and reduces traction. If you need to ride in the rain, remember that the most dangerous time is right after precipitation begins, as the water can cause oil on the road to rise to the top.

Check out these related resources:

Motorcycle Safety Gear

Bad Weather Riding

Motorcycle Antilock Brakes