Motorcycles are popular across the nation, and Illinois is no exception. Though they are not common in the winter months, once spring hits the state, motorcyclists can be seen on all types of roads and at all times of the day. Biking is a pastime for some and a passion for others who live to ride. Regardless of how many miles you log or how often you hop on, the safety concerns that face any motorcyclist are the same.
Decades representing bikers injured by the negligence of others has helped us create the following Top Five Tips for Safe Biking in Illinois:
- Before You Ride, Become Familiar With Your Bike
Like cars, each motorcycle is a little different than other bikes. This means that the dials may be arranged differently or that features might be in slightly different locations. For this reason it is crucial that you are familiar with a motorcycle before you ride.
Take time to read the owner’s manual or ask an expert about the features of your bike. Dealerships, online forums, and other bikers can be knowledgeable sources of information that may prove helpful. Most importantly, make sure you are familiar with all of the safety features before your first ride, including how each feature functions. This knowledge may prevent a collision from happening which can prevent severe or even fatal injuries among bikers and their passengers.
- Always Wear a Helmet and other Safety Gear
Studies repeatedly show that wearing a helmet while riding on a motorcycle saves lives. While adult riders are not required to wear a helmet in Illinois, it is still a good idea to wear one to protect your head and face in the event of a collision.
All helmets are not treated the same and it is critically important that you wear a helmet that meets minimum safety standards. Some helmets are considered decorative and are not designed to provide significant protection in the event of a crash while other helmets are specifically designed to protect the head and prevent injuries. When shopping for a helmet, make sure you read all of the information provided and ask a sales representative for advice. A helmet should fit snugly on your head and rest far enough above your eyes to provide you with an unobstructed line of sight. Adjust the chin strap for a tight fit every time before you ride.
A helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment a biker can wear because most motorcycle deaths are caused by head injuries. However thousands of other bikers are injured in crashes each year and suffer from broken bones, road rash, and internal injuries. To prevent these injuries, bikers should wear protective clothing designed to withstand impact with the road, like leather jackets. It is also a good idea to wear bright, reflective colors to make yourself as visible as possible to other motorists on the road.
- Obey All Traffic Laws and Never Drink and Drive
Bikers have the same rights and responsibilities as any other motorist on the road. This means that bikers must obey all traffic laws and signals, including speed limits, stop signs, and other rules of the road.
While the relatively small size of motorcycles makes it easy to weave in and out of traffic and drive in lanes and conditions other motorists would be unable to drive in, all bikers are required to follow the same rules that apply to cars and therefore may be riding illegally by some actions, like passing on the right or moving between lanes of stopped traffic. Since motorcycle injuries are often severe or fatal, riders should always have safety as their primary concern and should not jeopardize that by driving in a hazardous manner.
This certainly means that motorcyclists should never drink and drive. Bikers make up a disproportionately large percentage of drunk drivers that are stopped and arrested every year. Driving drunk slows down an operator’s response time and makes critical decision making difficult to impossible, leading to an increase in crashes and injuries. The best way to avoid this is to never ride after drinking. It is always better to call a cab, get a ride from a friend, or even walk after drinking.
- Consider a Tune-Up for your Motorcycle
Most bikers choose not to ride in the winter months because snow and ice can be very dangerous and also very destructive to a motorcycle. This means that most Illinois motorcyclists store their bikes for some period of time each year only to take their bikes out of storage to ride in nicer weather.
It is a good idea to tune up your motorcycle before riding each year if you store it. Some bikers like to take these maintenance steps themselves while others prefer to have a professional work on their bike. There are thousands of shops across the state that offer basic tune up packages for bikers which will have motorcycles running smoother and longer, stretching the useful life of the bike in many cases. Routine maintenance can also detect potential safety concerns with a bike which can be addressed and fixed before a crash ever occurs.
- Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Many states require motorcyclists to pass a safety course before obtaining a certification on their license to operate a motorcycle within the state. Even if you ride in states without this requirement, it is still a good idea to take a motorcycle safety course before you begin riding or even as a refresher after riding for some time.
Motorcycle safety courses are widely available and some are even broadcast online. The courses often teach basic skills to new riders as well as defensive riding skills and tips on sharing the streets with cars and other vehicles.
Some insurance policies provide discounts for motorcyclists who have successfully completed an approved safety course so in addition to increased safety while riding, you may receive a significant financial benefit on your monthly insurance bill. Contact a motorcycle safety group in your area or your insurance company to find out more information.
Even the safest motorcyclist can be injured by a negligent driver. It only takes one second of poor driving to kill or injure a biker and unfortunately it happens every day. If you have been injured while riding your motorcycle or if a loved one has been injured or killed, please call the Illinois motorcycle accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a free consultation. We represent motorcyclists daily and we are ready to help you obtain a recovery you deserve. Call us today at (312) 924-7575 or toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) for a no-obligation consultation. We have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.