Five safety tips for California motorcyclists

Collisions involving motorcycles may have devastating effects for riders, but there are several things they can do to help improve their safety.

Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation for people throughout California. Unfortunately, however, collisions involving these small vehicles and other automobiles occur all too often, frequently resulting in serious injuries or death. In fact, the California Office of Traffic Safety reports that 519 people were killed due to motorcycle accidents in 2014 alone. While not all such crashes are preventable, there are several things motorcyclists can do to help keep themselves safe while riding.

Stay alert

When operating any type of vehicle on the roads in California and elsewhere, it is important for people to avoid distractions. Staying alert may be particularly essential for motorcyclists, however. If they are engaged in distracting behaviors or are otherwise unalert, riders may not see hazards or notice changes in the driving conditions in time to avoid an accident. Therefore, it is important for motorcyclists to remain focused on the task of operating their vehicles while they are on the road.

Always wear a helmet

During the warmer summer months, in particular, wearing a helmet may seem unappealing to many motorcycle riders. However, having a helmet on may help reduce the severity of their injuries and avoid serious head trauma in the event riders are involved in collisions. Thus, motorcyclists and their passengers are advised to always wear helmets. They should fit snugly, but comfortably to help ensure their effectiveness.

Dress for protection

The jackets, pants and other gear motorcyclists often wear may be seen by some as just for appearances. However, the clothing riders have on may be some of their only protection from abrasions and other serious injuries in the event they are thrown from their vehicles. As such, it is suggested that people wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts whenever they ride. They should also wear close-toed shoes that cover their ankles. Riders should take care not to wear baggy clothing or have dangling laces, which could easily get entangled in their vehicles.

Train to ride

Before obtaining a motorcycle license and hitting the open road, it is recommended for people to complete a training course. Through such programs, they may learn how to appropriately operate their vehicles, as well as other essential riding skills, such as how to handle their bikes in wet conditions. In California, riders under the age of 21 are required to complete an approved safety course and hold a permit for six months before they are able to obtain their licenses.

Ride defensively

Some of the practices that people find enjoyable while riding motorcycles, and a benefit of being on their bikes instead of in vehicles, may be offensive to other drivers. Further, such behaviors, including riding in between lanes of slow or stopped traffic, may put motorcyclists at an increased risk of crashing. Therefore, people are advised to ride defensively. They should be sure to obey the area's traffic laws, as this may help other motorists anticipate their actions.

When California motorcyclists are involved in collisions with other vehicles, the effects may be devastating. Those injured may require extensive medical treatment, as well as extended time away from their jobs while they recover. This may lead to damages, including undue medical bills and lost wages, for which the at-fault driver may be held liable. Therefore, people who have suffered injuries in motorcycle accidents may find it helpful to discuss their rights and options for pursuing financial compensation with a legal representative.