With daylight savings time right around the corner and warmer days fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to get back on your motorcycle. Whether you want to enjoy California’s wildflower season from your Harley or rely on your motorcycle for your everyday commute, there are a few important safety tips you should know before you ride.
Below, we’ve provided a helpful list of things to keep in mind when riding this spring (and into summer!). Continue reading to learn more or, if you or someone you love was involved in a motorcycle accident in Northern California, contact the Law Offices of Larry S. Buckley to speak to one of our experienced motorcycle accidently lawyers about your case. Your initial consultation is free!
Inspect Your Bike Before Your Ride
If you’re a recreational motorcycle rider, springtime may signal the start of a new riding season. If it’s been a while since you rode, or if you haven’t had your bike inspected in some time, this is the time to do it. A quick motorcycle inspection can make all the difference in your safety.
Motorcycle safety inspection checklist:
- Check tire pressure and adjust if needed
- Make sure all lights (headlight, taillight, turn signals) are working
- Test the horn and ensure it is working properly
- Inspect the drive chain/belt tension, triple clamp, and suspension
- Test the brakes and make sure they are working
It’s also a good idea to inspect your motorcycle safety gear—including your helmet, boots, gloves, and eyewear—and make sure everything is in good condition before you head out for a ride.
Refresh Your Safety Skills
It is recommended that all new motorcyclists complete the Motorcyclist Training Course (MTC); for those under the age of 21, the MTC is mandatory. Even if you are a seasoned rider, refreshing your motorcycle safety skills is never a bad idea.
You can prepare for spring and summer riding by taking the MTC, which is a 15-hour training course including 5 hours of instruction and 10 hours of actual riding. You can also complete the California Highway Patrol’s Premier Program, an extended version of the standard MTC consisting of 7.5 hours of instruction and 13.5 hours of riding. For intermediate riders, the 1-Day Premier Course is an efficient, cost-effective way to review your safety skills.
Learn more about the California Motorcyclist Safety Program here.
Motorcyclists aren’t the only ones who like to get back out on the road at the start of spring. In fact, spring and summer historically see some of the heaviest traffic congestion on California highways and roads. Negligent drivers are always a threat to motorcyclists, but with more and more drivers on the road, your risk increases.
When riding, make sure you are visible to other drivers. Failing to see a motorcyclist is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents—and the consequences can be deadly. In California, the only state to allow lane-splitting (traveling on lane lines), many of these accidents occur when drivers fail to check for motorcyclists traveling between lanes of traffic.
You should always assume that other motorists do NOT see you and ride accordingly. Drive defensively and avoid driver’s blind spots. By law, you are required to use your headlight at all times, even during the day, and you should consider wearing bright and/or reflective clothing that is more easily visible to other drivers.
Wear the Right Gear
California law requires you to wear an approved motorcycle helmet at all times when riding or operating a motorcycle. To be approved, your helmet must meet federal safety standards. Make sure you always wear a helmet when riding. Not only is it the law, but it is the most effective way to prevent severe head/brain injuries and death in the event of a collision.
In addition to a helmet, you should make sure you have and use the proper safety gear. Even as the days start to get warmer, make sure you wear heavy clothing, long pants and sleeves, and gloves to protect yourself in the event of a crash. You should also use protective eyewear, whether durable sunglasses, goggles, or a visor/face shield. Although eye protection is not mandatory for California motorcyclists, it is strongly recommended.
Be Aware of Inclement Weather & Poor Road Conditions
Even in the Golden State, spring can be unpredictable. Be aware of changing weather patterns and slick, wet roads. Keep in mind that roads are most dangerous after a quick rain shower, as brief periods of precipitation bring oil and dirt to the surface of the road where it can remain without being washed away.
In colder areas, patches of ice or even melting snow can make roads particularly hazardous. Black ice—a thin, transparent layer of ice—can form on asphalt and other paved surfaces, especially on bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas.
You should also always keep a lookout for potholes, puddles, debris, gravel, and other hazards when riding. Be aware that puddles can hide potholes and cracks, which can be particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. Never slam on your brakes or swerve to avoid a hazard on the road, as this can cause you to lose control of your bike. Instead, slow down as much as possible to reduce the risk of damage.
What to Do If You Are Injured in an Accident
Even the most careful and skilled motorcyclist cannot always avoid an accident. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents often occur not because of anything the motorcyclist did or didn’t do but because of the negligent or wrongful conduct of another.
If you believe your accident resulted from someone else’s negligence, you could have grounds for a personal injury case. Make sure you first receive the medical attention you need, then contact the Law Offices of Larry S. Buckley to learn how our Northern California motorcycle accident lawyers can help.
Call (530) 413-0245 or contact us online to request a free, no-obligation consultation.