Riding a motorcycle can be a thrilling experience. But there is no denying that it can be a dangerous activity on the increasingly congested roads of the metro Atlanta area. Motorcycle fatalities occur at a rate that is 28 times higher than for deaths in car accidents and other types of accidents. In 2017, there were over 5,000 motorcycle fatalities nationwide. In Georgia, over 260 motorcyclist died in fatal accidents in 2018.
If you are planning to ride a motorcycle, there are a few simple steps you should take to stay safe on the roads.
First of all, make sure you are properly licensed and trained. You may have many years of experience driving a car, but that does not adequately prepare you to take to the road on two wheels without proper training. Take a proper motorcycle safety training and education program. In Georgia, you require a Class M license to operate or ride a motorcycle anywhere in the state. You will have to pass a riding test and clear a motorcycle inspection before you receive a license.
Wear the right gear. Georgia law requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. A helmet is one of the most important pieces of safety gear you can wear while riding a motorcycle. Investing in a good helmet can help prevent you from suffering a catastrophic brain injury if you are involved in an accident. When shopping for a helmet, look for the DOT sticker on the helmet which means that it meets or exceeds federal safety standards. Make sure that your helmet is properly-fitted. Your helmet should fit well, and not be so cumbersome to wear that you avoid wearing it. A helmet with face shield will also allow you to enjoy the thrill of riding without getting mud, dust or debris in your eyes.
You should also wear long-sleeved jackets, full pants and body padding to protect your body from injuries in an accident. Denim and leather are good materials for motorcycle apparel as they are durable and protective. Wear boots that cover your ankles, and gloves that allow you good grip and can protect your hands in the event of an accident.
Obey all traffic rules. Experienced motorcycle riders who have great safety records will tell you that the best way to stay safe is to obey all traffic laws. Ride your motorcycle with the flow of traffic, and avoid speeding or stunts. Ride defensively, or as if the people around can’t see you. Obey all traffic lights and stop signs. Remember traffic rules aren’t just for car drivers. Stay alert for other motorists, especially those who may be coming up from behind you as they may not see you.
In 2016, as many as 25 percent of all people who died in motorcycle accidents were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. As with driving a car, you should not be riding a motorcycle while drunk. You should also avoid riding after taking prescription medications, like cold or allergy medications, that can make you drowsy.
While motorcyclists account for just 3 percent of the total population of road users in the United States, they account for as much as 14 percent of the fatalities in the country. It does not have to be this way. Take charge of your safety.