According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018 (the most recent year for which there are complete statistics) 4,985 motorcyclists in the U.S. lost their lives in accidents. Of all motorcycle fatalities, 106 occurred in Illinois. Another 82,000 in the U.S. were injured.
More than a third of fatal motorcycle accidents involved riders who were speeding. While it is impossible to totally prevent motorcycle accidents, if you are a new motorcycle rider, here are a few steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a fatality or injury statistic
1. Obtain a valid state license
Of course, simply having a license does not make you a better rider. It does indicate you have at least learned what you need to learn to pass a state test. It shows you are taking motorcycle riding seriously and have put forth the effort to know the rules of the road.
2. Get professional training
As tempting as it might be to have your best friend, or a friend of a friend, teach you how to ride, professional training is highly recommended. You should be able to find a program designed to teach you, in just one weekend, the basics of riding so you can pass the licensing exam. Many insurance companies offer reduced rates to motorcyclists who have taken and passed a professional training course. You can also take advanced training for improving your riding skills as well as learning off-road riding, dirt riding or even racing.
3. Buy a “starter” bike: Save that big, powerful Harley or dream bike for later
Understandably, you are excited to get started riding. You want the best bike you can afford and the one you have been drooling over, marking time until you can call it your own. In reality, the best bike is a “starter bike.” A bike that is used, less powerful than your dream bike and mechanically sound. A reliable bike. One that already has a few scratches. You ask, “Why?”
- It is inevitable that you will fall as you are learning your new skill. If you scratch up the used starter bike, you will not be as distressed as if you scratched up your dream bike.
- After you have some riding experience under your belt, you may have a different idea of the bike you really want. You can sell your used bike without much of a loss and then invest in the bike you really want.
4. Invest in the appropriate gear
Although Illinois does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) recommends motorcycle riders and their passengers voluntarily wear helmets. NHTSA statistics estimate that 1,872 lives were saved because riders were wearing helmets, and if all riders wore them, another 749 could have been saved.
In addition to a helmet, consider investing in equipment designed specifically for riders like gloves, boots, long pants and a jacket. If you fall off your bike and skid across the pavement, you will be glad you were protected from cuts and abrasions by having on your long pants, gloves and motorcycle jacket. Rain gear is also a good idea.
5. Ride with friends or groups with whom you share interests
You may be a solitary person who looks forward to taking long rides all by yourself. Or, you may be like many motorcyclists who enjoy the camaraderie of riding with others, whether with just a few other riders or with a large group. Check online for a group that enjoys the same types of riding experience you enjoy, or check with the AMA.
No matter how many rules you follow or how careful you are, you have no control over other drivers. Cars and trucks collide with motorcycle riders. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the Blumenshine Law Group at (312) 766-1000 or [email protected] for a free case evaluation. We will review the circumstances of your accident and advise you on how to proceed.