Motorcycle Safety: Follow these tips to stay upright

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Yesterday, Bay Bridge traffic into San Francisco slowed to slower of a crawl than usual when a motorcyclist crashed and died near the Fremont Street exit. 

 

Many mistakes led to this fatal crash. The motorcyclist "committed a violation in a westbound bus lane" according to SFGate. The CHP officer gave chase during rush hour for a minor violation. The motorcyclist somehow lost control of his vehicle, possibly due to speeding.

 

While I'm confident you won't flee the police if you violate a traffic law, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of motorcycle riding and drive too fast. Motorcycle fatalities occurred 28 times more often than other vehicle deaths according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2016 data.

 

You can have fun on the open road and be safe. Follow these motorcycle safety tips to do just that.

 

Wear a helmet. About 37% of people that didn't wear a helmet and died in a motorcycle crash could have lived had they worn one. Make sure the helmet meetsU.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. (Look for a sticker on the outside of the helmet.) Make sure the helmet has a face shield; if not, get a pair of goggles. 

 

Get professional training. Motorcycle riding takes coordination, balance, and strength. Practice riding your bike in a controlled area, like a large parking lot, to get comfortable with the machine. Next, take a lesson. Pacific Motorcycle Training offers classes in South San Francisco, San Jose, and Livermore.

 

Follow the rules of the road. Follow local traffic laws: obey stop signs, streetlights, and speed limits. Look around and behind you before you change lanes. And stay hyper-alert. Like bicycles, many drivers claim they can't see motorcycles, no matter how visible you think you are. To increase your visibility, use your headlights at all times.

 

Don't drink and drive. Don't take drugs and drive either. About half of motorcycle accidents involve either speeding or alcohol use. Not only will you risk a DUI, you'll risk serious injury. If you get into any motorcycle accident, it's unlikely you'll walk away with only a few scrapes.

 

Be smart when lanesplitting. It's legal to lane split--pass between two lanes of traffic--but do so safely. Generally, you'll want to avoid lane-splitting when traffic moves 30 mph or faster. And as CHP advises, "if you don't fit, don't split."

 

Maintain your bike. Before every ride, check tire pressure and tread depth. Check the hand and foot breaks, signal indicators, and fluid levels. If you're carrying luggage or some other cargo, make sure it's secure and balanced. If you plan to carry a passenger, make sure they have a helmet and proper clothing. Ask them to keep both feet on the footrests, sit far forward, and keep their legs and feet away from the muffler to avoid burns. And be sure to drive even more safely...especially if you have a nervous first-timer riding with you.

 

The warm, sunny weather we're having is ideal for taking the motorcycle for a spin. Stay safe and enjoy the journey.

 

If you get into a serious motorcycle accident, get immediate treatment, and then call our office for a free consultation.

 

Photo courtesy of Chris Yarzab, Flickr

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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