As a motorcyclist, it is important to know how to reduce the risk of an accident. Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than automobiles because they lack the safety features cars and trucks offer. Here are five things that you can do as a rider to minimize your risk of getting into a motorcycle accident:

1. Wear a Helmet

One of the biggest risk factors for motorcycles is a head injury. Even if you’re going out on a short ride, wearing protective gear like a helmet and other safety equipment is essential. In fact, helmets are estimated to reduce injuries by 37 percent.

When buying a motorcycle helmet, look for one authorized by the Department of Transportation. A DOT-approved helmet is made of special materials, has a lining that absorbs shock, and comes with breathable vents to keep you cool while riding.

2. Avoid Riding During Rush Hours and Bad Weather

You need to pay attention to road conditions, including potholes, debris, or water on the roads – which may be hidden by rain or snowfall.

If possible, avoid riding when you are tired – this can profoundly affect your ability to maneuver your bike safely.

Remember to always wear your safety gear, including a helmet and goggles or glasses if you need them for vision issues. Protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and pants made of a strong material such as leather that can protect against road rash in the event of a fall from your bike. Lastly, use high-visibility colors when riding so other motorists can see you more easily.

3. Never Drink and Drive

Do not drive under the influence of alcohol. Even if you are a safe rider, this is one thing that can never be overlooked because it increases your risk of getting into an accident by 60%. This number comes from research conducted at Johns Hopkins University in 2009.

Alcohol slows down reaction times and increases the chances of you not seeing vehicles that are larger than yours. This is why it’s important to designate a driver before going out or taking public transportation after having some drinks at your local bar.

When You’re the Driver: Steps to Protect Motorcyclists

Step #1: Make a special effort to look for motorcycles. It sounds simple, but many drivers don’t even realize they’re not looking out for bikes until after the fact. Even if you think you see them coming, give yourself an extra second or two before changing lanes just in case there’s someone else further back that you didn’t see.

Step #2: Leave plenty of room between you and the motorcycle in front of you. You should be able to count five seconds on your fingers without moving your hands, which means that by the time a bike makes a turn at an intersection, it’ll have ridden nearly 45 feet ahead of where it started.

Step #3: Make sure there’s room for a motorcycle between you and the car in front of you. Don’t tailgate, even if they’re not going as fast as you are. This can be especially dangerous when going through intersections that turn left because motorcycles have a smaller turning radius than cars do.

Step #4: Step four is to be careful about how you open your car door. If a motorcyclist can’t swerve out of harm’s way, they’ll come crashing into it and most likely get seriously injured or killed as a result.

Step #5: To avoid motorcycle collisions, give motorcycles room when turning onto the road where there are bikes present behind them. It’s no fun having a bike fly past you when others are nearby, so it’s best to wait until they can safely move into the lane before turning.

One of the best ways that drivers and motorcyclists can protect themselves is by remaining hyper-vigilant when they are on their bikes, so they know what’s happening in the area around them.

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