Motorcycle Safety: Protecting Yourself on the Road

Motorcycle accidents frequently involve catastrophic injuries. Not only do they have a higher death rate than other types of auto accidents, but due to the lack of protection motorcycle riders have from other vehicles on the road with them, they may result in much more severe injuries including: head and neck injuries, back injuries, broken limbs, and organ trauma, for example.

Often, motorcycle accidents occur due to the negligent behavior of drivers out on the road. However, motorcycle riders may be able to take some steps that can increase overall safety while riding. Or you can connect with a motorcycle accident lawyer for legal advice.

Invest in the Right Protective Equipment

Protective equipment can make a huge difference in safety when you head out on your motorcycle.

A Motorcycle Helmet

New York had some of the first universal motorcycle helmet requirements in the United States. Under New York Law, all drivers and passengers must wear a motorcycle helmet every time they get on a motorcycle. New Jersey and most other states have similar laws that work to protect motorcycle riders.

Wearing a motorcycle helmet can make a big difference in preventing head injuries in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle helmets have a 37 percent effectiveness in preventing deaths on a motorcycle.

Riders should look for a DOT-approved, well-fitted helmet that stays snugly in place and does not obstruct vision when choosing a helmet. A face shield can help protect against wind and debris in the eyes, which may make it easier for riders to continue to ride safely.

Good Shoes

Wearing good shoes can make a big difference in security on a motorcycle. Riders need sturdy soles and shoes that can take the weight and abuse they may face on the road. Good shoes can also help protect against injury if the bike tips over. Riding in sandals or flimsy shoes can place the motorcycle rider and others around him at higher risk of injury.

Protective Gear

Motorcycle riders can choose from considerable protective gear when they hit the road. Wearing the right protective gear, including leather jackets, sturdy pants, or even protective suits designed to help decrease the risk of road rash in an accident, can all make a huge difference in riders’ safety in the event of a collision.

Go Through Training Courses

Motorcycle training courses provide riders with a distinct advantage out on the road. Motorcycle riders may not want to stop with basic training courses alone. While those basic training courses can help motorcycle riders learn how to navigate on the road and operate a motorcycle, they may not provide deeper insights into defensive driving, risk management strategies, and even rider behavior.

By increasing overall knowledge and skills, motorcycle riders can feel much more confident about their safety on the road. While even the best training cannot help motorcycle riders protect against every accident, defensive driving skills can help them avoid the risk often associated with other drivers’ dangerous or reckless decisions.

Defensive driving courses can also help motorcycle riders better understand the challenges they might face on the road. In some cases, riders might need to learn what hazards they may face, including how to judge weather conditions and how to navigate on the road. Advanced-level riding courses can prepare motorcycle riders for more of those potential challenges.

Stay Aware

Motorcycle riders must constantly stay aware of everything that takes place around them. Unfortunately, an accident can happen in an instant, often due to another driver’s negligent or reckless actions.

Motorcycles often fit into the blind spots of larger vehicles. Furthermore, they do not fit the visual profile most people look for when driving since many focus on larger passenger vehicles instead of paying attention to motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicycles that may also fill the road.

As a result, motorcycle riders need to stay aware of everything around them.

  • Riders may need to watch for obviously erratic drivers. Reckless drivers may weave back and forth through traffic, take unnecessary chances, or speed up and stop abruptly. Erratic drivers may not take the time to watch for motorcycles, which can leave them liable for a devastating collision.
  • Speeding drivers may pose a significant danger to motorcycle riders. The higher the driver’s speed, the greater the odds that the driver will fail to notice the presence of the motorcycle rider altogether. Furthermore, a speeding driver can end up causing more damage to the motorcycle rider due to the greater overall force of the accident.
  • Riders may want to pay particular attention to large vehicles. Large vehicles may have equally large blind spots, so drivers may have a very hard time seeing the movement of motorcycles around them. Keeping an eye on those large vehicles can prevent devastating accidents.

Riders who stay aware can often avoid accidents. They may choose to get out of the way, dodge around a dangerous vehicle, or even stay far enough back to avoid a dangerous or reckless driver altogether. While those drivers would certainly bear liability for an accident caused by their reckless actions, it could still mean a devastating recovery period for the motorcycle rider.

Follow the Rules of the Road

Motorcycle Safety: Protecting Yourself on the Road

Motorcycle riders may need to carefully ensure they follow the same road rules that the drivers of passenger vehicles must follow. Sometimes, motorcycle riders might want to ignore those rules or feel they should not apply them. However, following the rules of the road makes motorcycle riders’ behavior more predictable and decreases the risk of an accident.


Motorcycle riders may feel as though they can safely travel faster than the average passenger vehicle. Motorcycles generally allow for much faster stops and have higher maneuverability than larger passenger vehicles, which may need more careful handling.

On the other hand, that higher rate of speed can pose a significant danger to the motorcycle rider and others who need to share the road with him. A motorcycle speeding through traffic can prove unpredictable to other drivers, which can make it very difficult for those drivers to determine what the motorcycle rider will do next or how to avoid them. In some cases, a speeding motorcycle can also cause traffic that can be difficult to navigate.

Traveling at a safe rate of speed, depending on the speed limit and the flow of traffic, on the other hand, can help keep everyone on the road safer. Motorcycle riders may find that traveling at the same rate of speed as other vehicles around them makes it easier for them to avoid a collision.

Traffic Signs and Signals

Sometimes, motorcycle riders may want to avoid normal traffic signals. They may not want to come to a full stop at a stop sign or red light, which may mean putting their feet down and balancing the motorcycle while waiting for traffic to continue to flow. However, failing to come to a full stop may mean that the motorcycle rider goes through the intersection without yielding to other, larger vehicles.

Motorcycle riders may also need to pay careful attention to yield signs or signs directing them through traffic. In many cases, motorcycle riders may want to yield or pause even when they assume they have the right of way since another driver might not see them or yield to them.

Avoiding Lane Splitting

Sometimes, when traffic stalls, motorcycle riders may feel tempted to split lanes: to drive down the center line between two stopped lanes of traffic. However, lane splitting remains illegal in every state but California and can pose a substantial danger to the riders trying it. Most drivers do not expect to see a motorcycle traveling in between lanes, meaning they may pull out, turn, or start moving without recognizing the presence of a motorcycle. As a result, the motorcycle may end up suffering severe injuries.

Stay Focused on the Road

Distractions abound. A motorcycle rider’s attention can end up pulled away from the road in the blink of an eye. While motorcycle riders may naturally have fewer distractions than other drivers due to the nature of the vehicle, they can still suffer from several distractions, from chatting with a passenger to trying to change radio stations while riding.

Some riders may even grow distracted by a GPS or phone call.

Keeping the focus on the road can make it easier for motorcycle riders to avoid a potential collision, allowing them to see potential dangers and maneuver around them more easily. Motorcycle riders, in particular, may want to silence cell phones and shut off smartwatch notifications and other devices while riding.

Keeping Motorcycles Safe on the Road

Andrew Finkelstein Jacoby & Meyers LLP

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

While motorcycle riders may need to take several essential safety precautions, the drivers that share the road with them also need to exercise caution to help avoid the risk of an accident.

Follow the Rules of the Road

Like motorcycles, the drivers of passenger vehicles may need to carefully follow the rules of the road to keep themselves safe and the others around them, including motorcycle riders, safe. That means traveling at a reasonable rate of speed, following traffic signals, and yielding when necessary. Following the rules of the road also makes passenger vehicle drivers’ behavior more predictable to motorcycle riders, which means they can help avoid collisions.

Look Twice

Before pulling out, especially in good weather, drivers may need to look twice to ensure that a motorcycle has not pulled out into the road around them. Looking twice can help drivers ensure that they note the presence of a motorcycle, which can help them avoid a collision.

Pay Attention to Motorcycles

When drivers notice a motorcycle around them, they should pay careful attention to it and know how it moves around them. They should keep track of the rider’s movements, including ensuring that they know when the motorcycle falls back in traffic or passes. By tracking the movements of a motorcycle, drivers can get a better idea of whether they can safely change lanes or turn without putting the motorcycle rider in danger.

Allow Motorcycles to Have a Whole Lane

Motorcycles, like passenger vehicles, have the right to take up a whole traffic lane. Just like motorcycle riders should not attempt to split lanes by riding between stopped or slowed lanes of traffic, drivers should not push into a motorcycle’s lane. Pushing into a motorcycle’s lane can crowd the motorcycle and make it harder for the rider to maneuver safely. Furthermore, pushing into the motorcycle’s lane may inadvertently cause a collision since the motorcycle rider may not realize that the driver intends to share space in the lane.

Avoid Distraction

Any distraction on the road can be deadly, especially for motorcycle riders. When drivers grow distracted behind the wheel, they may have a greater risk of missing the presence of a motorcycle around them. A distracted driver also has a greater tendency to miss or ignore traffic signals, which may increase the risk of an accident.

Did a Motorcycle Accident Injure You?

Regardless of what precautions you might take on the road, the negligent actions of other drivers can lead to a devastating motorcycle accident. If you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, a lawyer can help give you a better idea of your next steps, including how to protect yourself and the compensation you may deserve.

Contact an accident attorney as soon after the accident as possible to increase the odds that you will get the full compensation you deserve.