The weather’s warming, trees are in bloom, and the road is calling your name. It’s May — happy National Motorcycle Safety Month! Before you hit the open road, it’s important to be prepared. We’ve put together some vital safety tips for motorcycle drivers to keep in mind:
Dress for Success
In Massachusetts, both motorcycle drivers and passengers are required by law to wear helmets. And while motorcycle helmet laws differ from state to state, smart riders know that you should always wear one. But with so many helmets on the market, it can be hard to choose the right one. While all helmets sold in the US are required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, some helmets are sold as novelty items and therefore do not meet these standards. Make sure your helmet is SNELL or DOT approved. It’s good to note that most helmets that comply with safety standards will weigh around three pounds.
Along with your helmet, you should always wear thick layers that cover your arms and legs. Try leather, which doesn’t only look cool, but will also protect you in case of an accident. Don’t forget to wear sturdy boots that cover your ankles, gloves, and eye protection to keep the bugs, dust, and whatever else you may encounter on the road out of your eyes. Be prepared for your ride by packing things like water, snacks and maps. It’s also a good idea to always have rain gear on board, just in case!
The Three-Minute Check
One of the most important things you should always do before a ride is a quick check to make sure your motorcycle is in working condition. The American Motorcycle Association came up with the acronym T-CLOCS to help riders remember what to do during this quick 3 minute check.
Start with your tires, which are one of the most important parts of your bike to check. In addition to checking for damage to your rims, spokes, and tread, make sure the air pressure is good in both tires. From there, check controls and cables to make sure that all levers and cables are working properly and that your brakes are responding correctly. Next comes lights. Just as you would with a car, make sure everything from your headlights to turn signals are working. This is a good time to check your horn, too!
Your bike needs both oil and fuel to run properly, so make sure to inspect your levels before going out for a ride. And don’t forget to check your reserves! The last thing you want is to get stranded because you thought you had extra gas. From there, you want to check your chassis to make sure that your suspension is properly adjusted. You can sit on your bike and gently rock it to make sure that things are moving smoothly and slowly. Last, examine your sidestand and centerstand. Make sure that they are not bent or cracked and that there is enough tension to keep your bike up.
Practice defensive driving by being aware of your surroundings. Remember, even if you see them, drivers may have trouble seeing you. Use your positioning to your advantage! Ride in the parts of lanes where you are most visible to drivers and other motorcycle riders and make sure to leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Knowing basic hand signals is also crucial. They can be used to indicate turning, stopping, or slowing down, in addition to things like a pointing out a hazard on the road. Lifehack has a great guide that explains common signals. Don’t forget to use your flashers along with hand signals whenever possible. And just as you would in a car, avoid distracted driving!
As with most things, the best way to get better with your motorcycle is to practice. Driver training is great for both new and veteran drivers. Check with your state’s DMV or RMV to find out what courses are available in your area. You should be able to find a course that fits your skill level. Note that in Massachusetts, you must either complete a Rider Education Program or an RMV road test to get your motorcycle license.
Update Your Insurance
Massachusetts requires that all motorcyclists have a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. Just as you would with you car insurance, make sure to regularly check in with your motorcycle insurer to make sure everything is taken care of.
Need more advice on your motorcycle insurance? Give HIG a call today. We can help you find the best insurance to fit you and your bike’s needs!