A warm summer wind blows across your face as you sit at a light waiting for it to turn green. Do you turn left, right, go straight… It doesn’t matter because its 77 degrees and you’re just here for the ride. You turn left and your motorcycle roars into the hustle and bustle of a small downtown built in the early 50’s. Kids run around the outside of an ice cream shop while a dog barks from behind a white picket fence. Red roses are in bloom, the sky is blue and friends shake hands saying, “How do you do?” What a wonderful world.
Motorcycles have a long history in this country and are an important part of Americana. From the steam powered “bicycles” of the 1960’s to Marlon Brando in The Wild One, we have embraced motorcycles both for their feats of engineering and the attachment to counterculture. Anyone can ride and anyone who does ride knows why. There’s a beauty in the technology, a freedom and a certain danger that comes along with riding a motorcycle.
There are certain things that you can do to protect yourself when out for a ride. We would all like to believe that being on a motorcycle is always safe, but there are many factors that increase the chances for fatal accidents.
Here are some great tips for staying safe out there this summer.
- Wear a Helmet – This cannot be stressed enough. In recent years, Michigan instituted a policy stipulating that wearing a helmet while on a motorcycle was no longer mandatory. We can quote numbers all day long, but the reality is that you are safer on the road if you wear a helmet. Deaths and serious injuries have increased because people make the choice not to wear a helmet when they ride. Say what you will, but there’s no arguing with common sense.
- Know the Weather – Being cognizant of weather conditions will help you in a lot of ways. You will know whether or not today is a good day to ride. Being caught in a downpour and having to pull over under an overpass while cars blindly zip past at 60mph is in itself a terrible idea. A rule of thumb is “if storm clouds are creepin’, the hog should be sleepin’.” Well, that was just made up, but it makes sense.
- Get a License– Taking a motorcycle safety class and getting the proper endorsement is a sure way to be positive that you’re safer on the road. These classes teach you a variety of different techniques for properly operating a motorcycle. You will learn what to wear to protect yourself, strategies on avoiding trouble and how to maneuver your hog in the worst situations.
- Get the Gear – Imagining you’re famous and pulling up to a red carpet event. People are lining the streets with the anticipation that they might see you. You get off your ride and slowly take off your helmet as paparazzi camera flashes bounce off your leather jacket. You slowly unstrap your matching protective gloves as you black boots knock your kickstand into place. Now, reimagine all this with you in a Looney Tunes t-shirt, ripped jeans and a pair of Converse. One is not nearly as cool as the other. In this day and age, they make everything from gloves with plastic joints to cover every knuckle to airbag vests that surround you in case of an emergency. How much does the extra cost of safety gear outweigh the cost of your health and well-being?
- Pay Attention – An accident is not always your fault. If you’re safe and aware of your surroundings then a lot of the time you may never need to worry, but the sad reality is that others on the road are not thinking like you. Distracted Driving has become more of a problem than ever and may be the reason why we see more fatalities in motorcycle crashes each year. As more and more motorcycles hit the road during the summer months, drivers have to reacclimate themselves to sharing the road. Be aware of your surrounds and especially other drivers because they may not be aware of you.
- The Road Are Hazardous – The Polar Vortex took a toll not only on our health but on the health of our roads. Michigan suffered the worst winter on record. It’s just not possible that there was a worse one! This took a serious toll on our roads. Potholes are out of control and when they will get fixed seems like a mystery. And not just Michigan, but anywhere. Road conditions play a serious part in your safety as a motorcyclist. Keep an eye of for orange barrels as well. Construction is always in full effect during the summer months.
- Drive Safe! – Summer is fun and meant to be enjoyed. Staying safe on the road means staying sober, using turn or hand signals and enjoying the ride. Make sure to keep both wheels on the ground (we’ve all seen YouTube videos of a wheelie gone wrong), maintain your motorcycle to avoid technical mishaps, check your air pressure, and one of the most important things you can do is enjoy yourself. Nobody likes road rage and it’s incredibly unsafe to operate a motor vehicle in a negative state of mind.
Take care of yourself out there this summer.The open road can be one of the most exciting things there is. You never know what kind of adventure life can take you on, but make sure that you’re safe so you can continue enjoying the ride.