Summer has officially arrived. The days are longer and warmer, making the season an ideal time to ride a motorcycle. Rhode Island offers riders a bounty of beautiful scenic routes and destinations.
Increased ridership also has an unfortunate byproduct – more motorcycle accidents. In August of 2021, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation reported that nearly one-third of all fatalities had been motorcycle riders.
Ride safer this summer by following these motorcyclist tips.
Tips #1: Be Properly Licensed
The Ocean State requires the completion of a motorcycle safety course and a special license to legally operate a motorcycle. Scooters, autocycles, and mopeds do not require a special license. Anyone wanting to drive a motorcycle must first have a valid driver’s license (or provisional license if ages 16-18). After successfully completing the safety course, you can then apply for a motorcycle permit. The state requires that a motorcyclist practice riding for at least 30 days before applying for the official motorcycle endorsement.
Tip#2: Conduct Pre-Ride Safety Check
A quick, but thorough, safety check is an important ritual before hitting the road. Check that both tires are in good condition and properly inflated. Make sure the brakes work and check the brake pads and discs for wear. Ensure the levers, throttle, cables, hoses, and other controls are in good working order. Look at your battery terminals. Determine whether the headlamp, turn signals, and brake lights are operational. Make sure the bike has enough oil, coolant, fuel, and other fluids.
Tip #2: Wear Appropriate Gear
Rhode Island can reach into the 80s during the summer, but don’t skimp on protective gear. Shorts and T-shirts are not appropriate for motorcycles. Fortunately, vented clothing can better protect your body while helping you stay cool. It’s safest to wear shoes that go above the ankles. Gloves are recommended no matter what time of the year. The state does not mandate a helmet for all motorcyclists. Motorcyclists younger than 21 must wear one. During their first year of having a motorcycle license, riders of all ages must wear a helmet. Helmets reduce the chance of being killed in an accident, so do yourself a favor and wear one no matter your age or how long you have been riding.
Tip #3: Don’t Ride Under the Influence
This tip is a no-brainer. Driving while intoxicated by alcohol, a narcotic, or any other substance is a recipe for trouble. You are putting yourself in jeopardy and endangering everyone else on the road. Remember that you have little to no protection between you and the road or an object in a collision.
Tip #4: Obey All Traffic Rules
Zipping in and out of traffic, speeding, lane splitting, and other hazardous behaviors make a motorcyclist erratic on the road. When the riders and drivers around you cannot predict what you are going to do, everyone is unsafe. Speed limits, turn signals, yield and stop signs, and all other traffic rules must be obeyed.
Tip #5: Drive Defensively
Motorcycles are physically smaller than the cars, SUVs, pickups, and 18-wheelers that will also be on the road. Assume that the other drivers do not see you. Watch intently for any maneuvers they make. Put extra space between you and them. Pay attention to the actual road, too. Road hazards like potholes and loose gravel are small annoyances to cars but can be deadly for bikers.
Tip #6: Know the Weather Forecast
Nothing turns a great day on a bike into a nightmare like bad weather. If the forecast calls for rains or high wind, consider postponing your ride for another day. Nothing is so important that it is worth putting your life in peril.
Tip #7: Never Ride Tired
Every biker has their own tolerance for how long they can ride without a break. Do not push yourself to go farther if you begin feeling drowsy. Drowsy riding is similar to drunk driving. Your reaction time is slow, your vision is impaired, and you cannot make good decisions. As soon as you begin to feel sleepy, take your earliest opportunity to stop. Stretch your legs, walk around, and drink some water. Give yourself 15 minutes or so before getting back on the bike. Take as much time as you need.
Motor Vehicle Drivers Also Have a Responsibility
Motorcyclists are the only ones with the safety burden. Motor vehicle drivers also need to safely share the roads with motorcycles.
Drivers should remember the following tips:
- Be cautious when passing a motorcycle
- Double-check your blind spots
- Know the hand signals often used by motorcyclists
- Exercise additional caution at intersections and when making a left turn
- Always use turn signals
- Put extra space between you and a motorcyclist
- Turn off your high beams
- Don’t drive distracted
Despite Precautions, Motorcycle Accidents Still Occur
Motorcyclists are far less protected and more susceptible to serious injury when involved in an accident. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in a crash than those in a passenger car.
Common injuries in motorcycle accidents include the following:
- Broken Bones
- Back Injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Road Rash
Understand Your Options in Accidents Caused by Others
Being injured in a motorcycle accident can have life-altering repercussions. Even so-called minor accidents can leave you out of work and saddled with unexpected medical bills.
At McIntyre Tate LLP, we have extensive knowledge of personal injury law. Our attorneys can aggressively negotiate with insurance companies and liable parties on your behalf. When necessary, we have successful experience in bringing cases to court. We believe you should be compensated for any and all damages caused by another person.
Injured in a motorcycle accident in Rhode Island? Schedule a consultation with us by calling (401) 351-7700 or sending us an online message.