MarketWatch Guides with summer motorcycle safety tips
Riding a motorcycle is a way of life. Maybe your passion is to find the roads that aren’t on any map, or perhaps you enjoy using your bike to get around the city easily. Either way, riding gives you freedom. However, with that freedom comes the responsibility to manage greater risk. It’s just you and the bike — you’re exposed to the elements and other drivers who aren’t looking out for you.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists were 24 times more likely to be killed in accidents and four times more likely to be injured than occupants of passenger vehicles in 2021. That year, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities.
A fender bender for someone in a car can be a serious incident for a motorcyclist. Practicing safe riding habits can help you avoid injury and keep enjoying the ride.
Below are eight tips for staying safe on your bike in the summer. The bonus is a few of these riding tips also help you save on motorcycle insurance.
A list of eight actions a motorcycle driver can take to keep themselves safe while riding
#1 Take a Safety Course
Having the right gear and bike don’t mean anything if you don’t know how to navigate the road. That’s why it’s a great idea to take a training course approved by your state’s department of motor vehicles.
This tip can pay off with an immediate discount on motorcycle insurance too. Almost all insurance companies offer discounts for taking a basic rider course. And if you’ve taken one in the past and aren’t a new rider, you can take an advanced motorcycle riding course to further improve your skills.
#2 Wear the Right Helmet
Use a helmet every time you ride. Get a helmet that fits snugly around your head and feels just a bit too tight at first. The pads will break in, and you don’t want to end up with space for your head to move around.
Get a helmet that at least meets Department of Transportation guidelines. A helmet certified by the Snell Foundation, an organization that promotes the development of safer helmets, offers even better protection. There’s more on helmet certifications below.
#3 Use Safety Gear
Even though it’s hot in the summer, you should protect your entire body with the right gear.
Use a motorcycle jacket that offers ventilation and protective panels, plus reflective sections for visibility.
Choose pants that offer ventilation and armor panels.
Use boots for foot and ankle stability.
Wear gloves that provide protection while allowing you to manipulate handlebar controls.
Insurance companies won’t base your rate on the riding gear you have. However, taking safety precautions can minimize injuries and the cost of a claim in the future.
#4 Mind the Heat
Riding in the summer means you need to stay hydrated. Heatstroke can mess with your concentration, and that’s not good when you’re cruising down the highway on two wheels. If you’re riding all day, plan to have a gallon of water or other hydrating drinks available throughout that time. You’ll stay better hydrated if you sip small amounts with a backpack hydration system too.
#5 Inspect Your Bike
Perform regular maintenance on your motorcycle and do a more in-depth inspection before riding season. Check for things that could compromise your safety on the road, like loose mirrors or weak headlights. Make sure your turn signals work, and check your oil, brakes, tire pressure, horn and fuel.
#6 Join a Motorcycle Organization
Joining a motorcycle organization like the Harley Owners Group has multiple benefits. You’ll meet new people and enjoy rides together. You’ll also be safer when riding in a group. And your insurance company may give you a discount for being a member.
#7 Consider Anti-Lock Brakes
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) can help bikers stop faster and maintain control of their bikes when slamming on the brakes. Most manufacturers offer ABS as an option or standard feature on new bikes. You can also get ABS kits that are easy to install and don’t take up too much space.
Besides improving safety while you’re braking, ABS can also fetch motorcycle insurance discounts from some companies.
#8 Obey the Speed Limit
Speeding on a motorcycle increases your risk of injury or death. NHTSA data shows 34% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were speeding, compared to 22% of passenger-car drivers. Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating, but speeding isn’t worth your life.