Motorcyclist deaths occurred 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles, based on 2014 fatal crash data. To keep motorcyclists safe, we urge everyone to share the road and be alert, and we're reminding motorcyclists to make themselves visible, to use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets, and to always ride sober.
Share the Road
Safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. But it’s especially important for motorists to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists such as size and visibility, and motorcycle riding practices like downshifting and weaving to know how to anticipate and respond to them. By raising motorists’ awareness, both drivers and riders will be safer sharing the road.
If you ride a motorcycle, you already know how much fun riding can be. You understand the exhilaration of cruising the open road and the challenge of controlling a motorcycle. But motorcycling also can be dangerous. The latest vehicle mile travel data show motorcyclists are about 27 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 6 times as likely to be injured. Safe motorcycling takes balance, coordination, and good judgment. Here are some ways to ensure that you'll be around to enjoy riding your motorcycle for many years to come.
Make Sure You Are Properly Licensed
Driving a car and riding a motorcycle require different skills and knowledge. Although motorcycle-licensing regulations vary, all States require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver's license. To receive the proper endorsement in most states, you'll need to pass written and on-cycle skills tests administered by your State's licensing agency.
Some States require you to take a State-sponsored rider education course. Others waive the on-cycle skills test if you've already taken and passed a State-approved course. Either way, completing a motorcycle rider education course is a good way to ensure you have the correct instruction and experience it takes to ride a motorcycle. For the motorcycle rider-training course nearest you, call the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at (800) 446-9227.
Practice Operating Your Motorcycle
Given the fact that motorcycles vary in handling and responsiveness, be sure to take the time to get accustomed to the feel of a new or unfamiliar motorcycle by riding it in a controlled area. Once you feel comfortable with your bike, you can take it into traffic. Make sure you know how to handle your motorcycle in a variety of conditions (e.g., inclement weather or encountering hazards such as slick roads, potholes, and road debris). If you plan to carry cargo or a passenger, be prepared to make adjustments to the tires, suspension, and placement of the load.
Be Sure Your Motorcycle is Safe
Before every ride, you should check the tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights and signal indicators, and fluid levels. You should also check under the motorcycle for signs of oil or gas leaks. If you're carrying cargo, you should secure and balance the load on the cycle; and adjust the suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight.
If you're carrying a passenger, he or she should mount the motorcycle only after the engine has started; should sit as far forward as possible, directly behind you; and should keep both feet on the foot rests at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped. Remind your passenger to keep his or her legs and feet away from the muffler. Tell your passenger to hold on firmly to your waist, hips, or belt; keep movement to a minimum; and lean at the same time and in the same direction as you do. Do not let your passenger dismount the motorcycle until you say it is safe.