Motorcycle Safety and You. Yes, You - NBC Connecticut

Motorcycle Safety and You. Yes, You



    Two fatal motorcycle crashes recently have put into sharp relief the necessity of proper motorcycle safety. The process starts long before the key ever meets the ignition, and ends, hopefully, in a safe trip home rather that a trip to the ER, or even worse, a slow trip to the morgue. 

    It’s a process that involves everyone on the road, not just those who choose to ride.

    For everyone:
    A few quick tips courtesy of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation:
    1. There are many more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don't "recognize" a motorcycle. They ignore it (usually unintentionally). Look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection.
    2. Because of its small size, a motorcycle might look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
    3. A motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic, whether you're changing lanes or turning at intersections.
    4. A motorcycle might seem to be moving faster than it really is. Don't assume all motorcyclists are speed demons.
    5. Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
    6. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
    7. Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because it can't always stop "on a dime."
    8. When a motorcycle is in motion, don't think of it as motorcycle; think of it as a person.
    For the motorcyclist:
    The first thing to know is if you should be on the bike at all. Riding isn’t for everyone, and if you’re considering the idea, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has some very important questions you should ask yourself before your tires ever meet the pavement. If you’ve decided to purchase a bike, stick around the shop and spend the money on proper protective equipment
    Your helmet is the single most important thing you can buy, so don’t skimp on it. 
    The proof is in the research, Harry Hurt, a researcher from the University of Southern California, studied 900 motorcycle crashes on-scene, and analyzed 3,600 police reports of motorcycle crashes for his study, “The Hurt Report.”   
    Helmets protect your head in four ways: the outer shell resists penetration and abrasion, the impact-absorbing liner absorbs shock by collapsing during impact, the soft foam-and-cloth liner keeps the helmet comfortable and snug, and finally the chinstrap is the one thing that keeps your helmet on your head in the unfortunate event that you meet the pavement. Since the shell and liner spread the force of the impact, if you’ve been in a crash that damaged your helmet, chances are good that you’ll need a new one. And since it’s protecting your noggin from the asphalt, it’s worth the money to buy a new one.
    Gloves, boots, jackets, pants and riding suits are all incredibly important as well. Make sure they fit well and are wind-resistant and warm. Hypothermia is a very real danger while riding, due to cooler moving air and constant exposure to wind, and can lead to loss of concentration, slower reactions and loss of precise muscle movements, all of which can turn a close call on the road into a much more painful one.
    Once you’ve got the right gear, the right mindset and the right bike, take a motorcycle safety course; it will be some of the best money you’ll ever spend. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers RiderCourse training in 14 different locations around Connecticut. The Connecticut Department of Transportation offers courses in 15 different spots across the state.  Take one, it's worth it.
    Beren Jones is an intern at NBC Connecticut. He wishes he had enough money to buy a 2008 Harley Davidson XL 1200R Sportster 1200 Roadster.