May is Motorcycle Awareness Month
We urge everyone to share the road and be alert, and we’re especially reminding motorcyclists to make yourselves visible, to use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets, and to always ride sober.
How to choose the right helmet before you hit the road.Watch this Video from the NHTSA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB0ZY55ty7Q&feature=youtu.be
If you ride a motorcycle, you already know how exciting it can be. You love cruising the open road. But riding a motorcycle can also be challenging as well as dangerous.
The 2014 NHTSA travel data report shows motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants, to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 6 times more likely to be injured.
Riding a motorcycle safely takes a lot of skill and coordination, not to mention good balance and good judgement. Below are some steps you can take to ensure that you’ll be around to enjoy riding your motorcycle for a long time.
*Steps You Can Take to Stay Safe on Your Motorcycle:
- MAKE SURE YOU ARE PROPERLY LICENSED
Although motorcycle-licensing regulations vary, all States require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver’s license. To receive the proper endorsement in most states, you’ll need to pass written and on-cycle skills tests administered by your State’s licensing agency.
Some States require you to take a State-sponsored rider education course. Others waive the on-cycle skills test if you’ve already taken and passed a State-approved course. Either way, completing a motorcycle rider education course is a good way to ensure you have the correct instruction and experience it takes to ride a motorcycle. For the motorcycle rider-training course nearest you, call the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at (800) 446-9227.
- PRACTICE OPERATING YOUR MOTORCYCLE
Given the fact that motorcycles vary in handling and responsiveness, be sure to take the time to get accustomed to the feel of a new or unfamiliar motorcycle by riding it in a controlled area. Once you feel comfortable with your bike, you can take it into traffic. Make sure you know how to handle your motorcycle in a variety of conditions (e.g., inclement weather or encountering hazards such as slick roads, potholes, and road debris). If you plan to carry cargo or a passenger, be prepared to make adjustments to the tires, suspension, and placement of the load.
- BE SURE YOUR MOTORCYCLE IS SAFE
Before every ride, you should check the tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights and signal indicators, and fluid levels. You should also check under the motorcycle for signs of oil or gas leaks. If you’re carrying cargo, you should secure and balance the load on the cycle; and adjust the suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight.
If you’re carrying a passenger, he or she should mount the motorcycle only after the engine has started; should sit as far forward as possible, directly behind you; and should keep both feet on the foot rests at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped. Remind your passenger to keep his or her legs and feet away from the muffler. Tell your passenger to hold on firmly to your waist, hips, or belt; keep movement to a minimum; and lean at the same time and in the same direction as you do. Do not let your passenger dismount the motorcycle until you say it is safe.
- WEAR THE PROPER PROTECTION
If you’re ever in a serious motorcycle crash, the best hope you have for protecting your brain is a motorcycle helmet. Always wear a helmet meeting the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. Look for the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet. That is the manufacturer’s way of certifying the helmet meets the DOT standard. A certified helmet also will have a permanent inside label identifying the manufacturer and providing information about the care and use of the helmet. Helmets meeting FMVSS 218 weigh around three pounds; have a thick polystyrene-foam lining; and sturdy chinstraps. ANSI or Snell labels are voluntary indicators of helmet quality. Don’t leave your helmet behind on short trips because it could be a deadly mistake. Some motorcycle helmets, in addition to offering protection to your head in a crash, include plastic face shields that offer protection from wind, rain, insects, dust, and stones thrown up from cars. If your helmet doesn’t have a face shield, be sure you wear goggles (some states require this as mandatory safety equipment) because eyeglasses won’t keep your eyes from watering, and can easily fall off.
Arms and legs should be completely covered when riding a motorcycle, ideally by wearing leather or heavy denim. In addition to providing protection in a crash, protective gear also helps prevent dehydration. Boots or shoes should be high enough to cover your ankles, while gloves allow for a better grip and help protect your hands in the event of a crash. Wearing brightly colored clothing with reflective material will make you more visible to other vehicle drivers.
- RIDE RESPONSIBLY
Experienced riders know local traffic laws – and they don’t take risks. Obey traffic lights, signs, speed limits, and lane markings; ride with the flow of traffic and leave plenty of room between your bike and other vehicles; and always check behind you and signal before you change lanes. Remember to ride defensively. The majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes generally are caused when other drivers simply didn’t see the motorcyclist. Proceed cautiously at intersections and yield to pedestrians and other vehicles as appropriate. You can increase your visibility by applying reflective materials to your motorcycle and by keeping your motorcycle’s headlights on at all times, even using high beams during the day.
- BE ALCOHOL AND DRUG FREE
Alcohol and drugs, including some prescribed medications, negatively affect your judgment, coordination, balance, throttle control, and ability to shift gears. These substances also impair your alertness and reduce your reaction time. Even when you’re fully alert, it’s impossible to predict what other vehicles or pedestrians are going to do. Therefore, make sure you are alcohol and drug free when you get on your motorcycle. Otherwise, you’ll be heading for trouble.
*The above information was researched by the NHTSA.
- MAKE SURE YOU HAVE MORE THAN JUST LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE
The no-fault law in New York does not protect motorcyclists, as they are not entitled to no-fault benefits. Nor is the driver of the other vehicle responsible for payment of your medical bills. If you have private insurance, your medical bills are the responsibility of your private health insurance carrier. If you do not have private insurance, then your bills may be submitted to Medicaid or Medicare, if you are eligible. Otherwise, they are your responsibility.
What sort of insurance coverage should I have on my motorcycle?
The single most important thing that you can do to protect yourself in the event that you are injured due to the negligence of another driver is to purchase the most Supplementary Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage that you can afford. At a minimum, you should purchase at least $100,000 of SUM coverage, but ideally you should have $250,000 or more of SUM coverage. Thus, in the event that you are injured by a driver who has the minimum coverage required in NY, $25,000, you can receive additional compensation from your own insurance carrier up to the maximum amount of your SUM coverage, less whatever sum of money you have received from the offending driver’s liability insurance carrier.
Free of charge, I can review your insurance policy to determine whether the coverage provides you with adequate protection. If it does not, I can help you find a policy that will provide more comprehensive coverage.
For a free analysis of your insurance policy, or to schedule a consultation to discuss a recent accident, contact my office at 866-639-5567. Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we win.