5 Motorcycle Safety Tips for Better Riding this Summer

  • Rodger Johnson
May 20, 2016

Did you know those loud pipes on a Harley Davidson may be one of the most unrecognized safety features on motorcycles?  “I’m a big advocate of loud pipes,” says Jim Krampen, an avid motorcyclist and chief revenue officer for Seven Corners Insurance. “Bikers can get caught in a driver’s blind spot, but loud pipes give advanced warning to others that a bike is in their vicinity, although they may not see them.” 

Krampen, who has ridden motorcycles for 20 years, has used a lot of different safety equipment. “When riding on the road, I think the most important piece of equipment are the glasses I wear,” he says.

Since May is the beginning of the motorcycle riding season, it is also National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. While some bikers do ride with safety gear, the latest studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show motorcycle fatalities are on the rise. Research cites motorcycle accidents account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities, but motorcycles make up only three percent of all registered vehicles in the Unites States, and over half of all accidents involving a motorcycle result in death.

Many of these motorcycle fatalities were caused by riders choosing not to wear a helmet. According to the latest from the NHTSA, helmets saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists in 2012. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 781 lives could have been saved.

“Helmets are important and an individual choice for riders, but good glasses and wearing a helmet is better,” says Krampen. He believes wearing the right glasses helps riders’ vision, which helps them be more aware of their surroundings and road conditions and react quicker to prevent accidents. “I have several sets of glasses for different conditions.”

While wearing the right glasses and helmet are important, having a safety mentality is equally important. “I am an advocate of being aware of my surroundings,” he says. Some motorcycle training courses teach new riders S.I.P.D.E. “That means motorcyclists should Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute their riding decision,” Krampen says. This method of riding encourages motorcyclists to be proactive, instead of reactive when they are on the road.

What Does SIPDE Mean

  • Scan: Motorcyclists should always be aware of their surroundings for potential accidents or hazards, because road environments change suddenly and can create new potential for accidents to occur.
  • Identify: Being aware of your surroundings also means identifying potential accidents and steering clear of those hazards. This includes being aware of pedestrians, activity in intersections, and other motorists around you. If you identify these hazards, you are better able to take action to prevent an accident.
  • Predict: Because you cannot read another person’s mind to know exactly what their next move will be, once you identify a potential road hazard, assume the worse. Slow down and prepare to react. For example, say you’re about to make a left turn in an intersection and see oncoming traffic. Slow down, make eye contact with the driver approaching you. Use your turn signal. Obey traffic signals and signs.
  • Decide: Should the potential for an accident occur, an alert motorcyclist should be ready to decide how to avoid a collision. You should also consider other factors to minimize injury and a collision.
  • Execute: This is the action phase. After you decide the best course of action, make it so. Do not hesitate. Most accidents occur within seconds, so you must be able to react quickly.

Practicing the right safety behavior on the road and using the right equipment can make all the difference in your riding enjoyment, your safety, and the safety of others. “People driving in cars aren’t always paying attention,” says Krampen, “so that’s why it’s important for motorcyclists to be even more aware. This is true in intersections and making passes. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, and can easily disappear in a driver’s blind spot.”

A majority of all motorcycle collisions happen at intersections. Weaving between lanes is also dangerous. In either of these situations, staying out of motorists’ blind spots, and keeping a safe distance between you and other vehicles is important. If another vehicle decides to zig, and you zag, an accident could happen, unless you add an extra buffer between you and other vehicles. This gives you space to respond.

Wearing a helmet, having the right mindset, and wearing the right eye gear are three important motorcycle safety tips.. While we can’t cover all of the safety precautions a motorcyclist should take, we would be remiss to omit insurance from the mix. Armor is our insurance for riders, designed by riders. Check out Armor before you take that long weekend trip. Armor protects you for 12 months.

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