For motorcyclists, spring and the open roads are calling. Warm, dry weather should mean clear roads for bikers, right? Surprisingly though, 63% of motorcyclist fatalities in 2019 occurred between May and September. Weather, it turns out, has less to do with accidents than you might think. Instead, studies suggest it’s the time of day you choose to ride that holds the highest risk for motorcycle safety.
The most dangerous times of day to ride your bike will be rush hour and weekend nights. Your biggest risk for motorcycle accidents are on weekdays between 3:00pm and 9:00pm. Weekend motorcycle accidents occurring after 6:00pm, however, accounted for 48% of motorcycle deaths. That means that the highest concentration of accidents occur on weekend nights.
Hitting the streets during times of sun glare and direct sunlight pose significant risks as well. Sun glare causes hundreds of accidents per year, whether from driving into direct sunlight in the morning hours, or dealing with the light transition as it sets in the evening. Riding at dusk carries increased risks of glare when oncoming traffic begins to use headlights.
Sobering Facts About Motorcycle Safety
You already understand that riding your bike increases your risk of accidents as well as your odds of suffering severe injuries from those accidents. Some sobering facts about motorcycle safety:
- A motorcyclist is 29 times more likely to suffer a fatality than occupants in cars.
- 80% of motorcycle accidents will result in injuries with 45% of those injuries severe.
- Two-thirds of single-vehicle motorcycle (no other drivers involved) accidents occur because of speeding.
- Over 50% of multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents (involving other drivers) happen at intersections.
- 40% of all single vehicle motorcycle fatalities occur at corners and when turning.
- In 2019, 34% of motorcycle fatalities involved sport and supersport motorcycles.
- The fatality rate of sport motorcyclists is twice that of conventional motorcyclists while the death rate of supersport riders is four times that of conventional bikes.
- Drunk driving is responsible for one-third of motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle Safety On The Road
To stay safe on the road, it’s advised to avoid rush hour and weekend evenings as well as times when sunlight will interfere with your vision. Since this isn’t always possible, here are a few motorcycle safety tips to keep you safe.
1. Wear Protective Gear
Motorcycle helmets can lower your risk of a head injury by 69%, and decrease your risk of death by over 50%. When choosing a helmet, the National Highway Safety Administration stresses the importance of having the right fit.
Always wear sunglasses or protective goggles as well as long pants, boots, gloves, and a heavy jacket. Avoid loose-fitting clothing, and choose bright, highly visible colors. Since the majority of motorcycle accidents happen close to home and on short trips, get in the habit of wearing your protective gear every time you hit the road.
2. Obey Traffic Laws
Stop at lights and stop signs, use your turn signals, and obey speed limits. All traffic laws apply to motorcycles as well as cars.
Drive defensively and always assume that other vehicles can’t see you on the road. This means using extra caution when making lane changes and turns. Try to keep yourself out of a driver’s blind spot, and always be alert to unexpected turns, stops, and lane changes.
Lane splitting for any reason is illegal in Maryland. If you must pass a vehicle, follow the same traffic laws that apply for passing in a car.
3. Avoid Distractions
Distractions when driving in a car are bad enough, but being distracted on your motorcycle can be fatal. When riding your bike, avoid:
- Using electronics
- Adjusting your music while in motion
4. Keep Your Bike Maintained
Routine maintenance of your bike is a crucial part of motorcycle safety. Low tire pressure, cracked hoses, leaking gas tanks, and poorly lubed chains can all result in a situation where your bike fails you, and when it does, it will be at the worst possible time.
Seasonal maintenance is important to keep your bike running safely and reliably.
5. Ride Sober
Motorcycle safety can be complicated enough when you’re sober. Don’t drive drunk, or even tipsy. Accounting for a third of all motorcycle accidents, drunk driving is not just unsafe; it’s illegal.
It’s not just alcohol that can land you in big trouble; Maryland recognizes “Drugged Driving” as cause for a DUI. In other words, a DUI covers any substance that impairs your judgement, slows your response time, and clouds your thought processes.
Stay Safe on the Road
With more bikes gearing up for the warm weather, motorcycle safety is more important than ever. Stay visible, stay alert, and stay safe.