Jun 25, 2019
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Staying Safe on a Motorcycle

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to have my own motorcycle. I remember watching old movies and TV shows about motorcyclists, cutting motorcycle pictures out of magazines, and even drawing pictures of myself on motorcycles! As much as I wanted to ride, though, that’s how much my mother was against it. For as long as I can remember, my mom has insisted that motorcycles are too dangerous.

I am finally out on my own and paving my own way in life, and I’m thinking about finally getting that motorcycle. My friend knows a guy selling a used one who is willing to give me a good price, and I think I can afford to do this! But the news is putting a strain on my relationship with my mom. She’s really upset.

I’ve told my mom that I’ll take extra care and be as safe as possible. I’d like to tell her about all the steps I’m taking. Experts, can you lay out the best ways to be safe when riding a motorcycle? Can you share any tips for proving to my mom that I’m doing things the right way?

Motorcycles are thrilling rides, but there’s no denying that riding comes with a certain amount of risk. The fact that motorcycle riders are out in the open air as they ride is part of the appeal, but the lack of a protective body makes a motorcycle less safe in a collision than a car, truck, or SUV would be.

More than 5,000 people die in motorcycle accidents every year. That’s far fewer than die in car accidents, but it’s important to remember that there are many more cars on the road than motorcycles. On a per-person basis, it’s undeniable that motorcyclists are in more danger than car drivers.

But risk is not a static thing on the road. What you do (or don’t do) can have a massive impact on the odds that you are involved in an accident and on how you fare if you do end up in one. Let’s talk about essential safety steps and best practices that you can share with your mother.

For starters, you need to recognize that riding a motorcycle is a skill set that must be developed carefully over time. This isn’t like driving a car, and you’ll need a different license to ride a motorcycle. It’s a great idea to invest in motorcycle riding lessons and to practice in parking lots and other controlled environments, just as you might have done when learning to drive.

Regardless of your skill level, you need to protect yourself with serious motorcycle safety gear. Those leather jackets aren’t just for show — they’ll protect a rider’s skin in the event of a slide. Invest in high-quality safety gear from brand names, such as LS2 helmets. Don’t get cheap here — from your gloves to your boots, every piece of your safety gear should be tough and reliable. You should never, ever ride without every single piece of necessary safety gear.

Your decisions on the road will have a huge impact on your safety, too. That’s why it’s important to keep taking lessons and to keep bettering yourself as a rider even after you get your license. But don’t neglect your decisions before a ride. You need to ride according to your abilities and make the sensible choice to leave the bike at home in bad weather, when you’re tired, or when you’ve been drinking. Discretion is the better part of valor when you’re riding a motorcycle, so skip the tough trips and play it safe as you improve your skills. And don’t be afraid to make a decision mid-ride — pull over if it starts raining, or leave your bike in the restaurant parking lot overnight if you end up having a drink that you didn’t plan on having. No matter how talented you may be as a rider, it’s easy to put yourself in an impossible spot by choosing to ride when you shouldn’t — so think before you get on the bike!

You have a right to buy and enjoy a motorcycle, but it’s kind of you to consider your mother’s feelings. Lay out your safety plans and let her know how strict you plan to be with your riding safety rituals. If you’re careful, you can enjoy your motorcycle to the fullest without putting yourself in the path of undue risk.

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