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Riding a motorcycle connects you with the road, your surroundings, and all of your senses in a way that driving a car just can’t match. But riding a motorcycle is also much more dangerous than driving a car—especially when you’re new to the hobby.
New drivers are more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers with years or decades of experience behind a wheel, and the same is true for motorcyclists. But unlike drivers, motorcyclists are much less likely to walk away from a first-time accident unscathed or with only bumps and bruises. Even low-speed motorcycle accidents can cause devastating and life-threatening injuries.
But what exactly puts new riders at a higher risk of serious accidents—and what can they do to reduce their risks?
Although many of the principles of riding a motorcycle are the same as riding a bicycle—staying upright on two wheels, using handlebars to turn, and braking with your hand—the speed, weight, and transmission of motorcycles can take weeks, months, or years to get used to.
And while riders are acclimating to the demands of riding a motorcycle, their brains are mostly focused on shifting gears, keeping their weight balanced, and maintaining a steady speed. Because they’re preoccupied with routine tasks, they can’t react as quickly to drivers pulling out in front of them or slamming on their brakes in front of them, for example. And when riders’ reactions to erratic drivers are even a half-second too late, they can crash.
The biggest risk that riders face on Ohio’s roads is other drivers. People in cars, trucks, and SUVs aren’t always looking out for motorcyclists or even paying attention to the road. When drivers don’t watch for bikers, serious accidents can occur, which makes it essential for motorcyclists to ride cautiously and defensively.
The best protection riders have against inattentive drivers is being aware of their presence and being able to anticipate their behavior. Veteran riders can often sense when drivers haven’t seen them, and they can adjust their riding accordingly. But new riders may not realize that a driver waiting to turn left thinks they’re in the clear after the last car drives by, which can lead to a collision between that driver and the motorcyclist.
“There are two types of riders: those who have crashed and those who will.” This oft-repeated mantra about motorcyclists isn’t just a snarky saying or jaded warning. Instead, it’s a factual statement, as virtually all riders will have an accident at some point in their riding careers. And because new riders are less likely to have crashed yet, they are also less likely to understand how many dangers lurk on the road.
In addition to inattentive and bad drivers, motorcyclists must also watch for inclement weather conditions, wet leaves, loose gravel, potholes, fallen tree limbs, and much more. Minor hazards that can be safely driven over in passenger vehicles can be deadly to motorcyclists, but new riders aren’t always able to spot or even recognize serious risk factors when they ride.
There are many different types of motorcycles for sale. From classic café racers and speedy crotch rockets to cross-country cruisers and oversized choppers, there are bikes for everyone. Each type of bike has unique characteristics and challenges, and riders must master controlling them to be as safe as possible.
New riders often have difficulty maintaining full control over their motorcycles, especially during high-risk moments. Inexperienced riders are more likely to turn their bikes over when taking sharp turns or to drop them while riding up uneven surfaces at slow speeds. Studying motorcycle safety information only goes so far—the best way for riders to improve is to gain more experience.
If the best way for new riders to improve their skills is to simply ride more, then they should do it as safely as possible. That means riding on less traveled and populated roads, avoiding highways and interstates, and never pushing themselves or their bikes beyond their skill levels.
Taking hands-on motorcycle safety courses can help riders more quickly acclimate to the demands of riding on the road and performing more difficult and technical maneuvers. These courses can also help riders learn what to do in dangerous situations by watching instructors and then performing the same techniques in safe, controlled environments.
Whether it’s your first day riding a motorcycle or you’ve been riding for decades, the biggest danger waiting for you on Ohio’s roads is inattentive drivers. Unfortunately, most drivers aren’t conditioned to look out for motorcycles. All it takes is a moment of distraction or “zoning out” for a driver to pull out in front of you or drift into your lane and seriously injure you.
When that happens, it’s our job to help innocent riders get the money they’re owed. Insurance companies are already reluctant to pay settlements, and they’re even more combative against motorcyclists due to their biases.
Don’t be a victim of both a negligent driver AND an uncooperative insurance company. Contact the Ohio motorcycle accident lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy today for a free consultation.
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