The most important life
saver in a motorcycle accident is the helmet. It protects the head and face from fatal
impacts. And it’s not just for high speed collision head protection. A rider can
die even at a standstill if he hits his head the wrong way. Think of the beautiful late
Natasha Richardson who, while skiing on a beginner’s slope, fell and hit her head. She felt a
little dazed but declined hospitalization. It turned out that an artery in her brain had been
damaged and she died of massive internal bleeding within a few hours. There are a number of cases
where motorcyclists and even bicyclists suffer what appear to be minor injuries to the head and end
up dead because serious head injuries can seem very innocuous at first. The bicycle helmet law
was enacted for this very reason. Most deaths are caused by a head injury, and there is only
one way to help avoid these while riding a motorcycle. All serious injuries are greatly reduced both
in severity and in frequency by the simple act of putting on a helmet. In fact, more than half of
motorcycle fatalities in 2003 were un-helmeted at the time of the accident. There are several
different types of helmets, including full-face helmets, ľ helmets and half helmets. Full coverage
is the best option because it affords protection for the entire head and face, instead of just a
part of the head.
Even though wearing a helmet is the best advice for staying alive, there are other
tips that can help. Almost half of motorcycle accident fatalities involve some sort of alcohol.
Whether or not a rider is past the legal limit, motorcycles require a lot of skill and attention to
operate safely. Any amount of alcohol can impair judgment enough to be dangerous; studies by the
National Traffic Safety Board have shown that even a Blood Alcohol Level .01 or less can impair
one’s judgment when driving.
Another key element to motorcycle safety is experience. This encompasses
many different elements. The first and most important is the amount of time spent on the bike. The
more riding time that a motorcyclist has under the belt, the better he or she will understand the
different perils of the road and how to avoid them. Exercising sound judgment based on
self-responsibility is another key element to understand. Realizing that owning a motorcycle makes
it even more important to appreciate and obey traffic laws is essential for the rider to understand.
By simply following traffic laws which are meant for the public good and the rider’s safety
helps take much of the risk out of riding a motorcycle.
As mentioned in a previous section,
the main causes of accidents are other motorists and the rider’s environment. Vigilance is the
key to safety here. The old adage about being a defensive driver is especially true for the
motorcyclist. A rider should constantly monitor their surroundings. When near other vehicles,
a motorcyclist should assume that other drivers cannot see them and ride accordingly. The
rider should also analyze all other conditions with the mindset that a dangerous obstacle is just
around every corner. Understanding and remembering all of these tips can go a long way in keeping
any rider’s bike and life intact.
When ridden safely, motorcycles are a great option for
transportation. They are fun, fast and fuel-efficient. They offer privileges of riding in carpool
and high vehicle efficiency lanes. The key to making sure any rider’s experience stays
enjoyable is to respect the road and the rules. Being vigilant and wearing the right equipment will
go a long way in helping prevent the bumps and bruises or worse that accompany any accident. So stay
sharp and be safe and you and your motorcycle will have many more miles ahead to feel the pavement
underneath roll on by.
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