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Connecticut has thousands of avid motorcyclists. Unfortunately, it also has a high number of motorcycle accidents. According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, 49 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents in 2018 alone. Negligent drivers and dangerous roads are common in the state, making riding risky for motorcyclists. Follow these motorcycle safety tips to decrease your risk of an accident.
Motorcycle safety starts long before you hit the road – all the way back to the purchase of your bike. Select the right motorcycle for your riding style, experience and goals. Always use your own bike, not one that is suited for someone else. Being familiar with your ride can help you maintain better control of the vehicle. Before you set out, take the time to inspect your motorcycle. Check the brakes, tires and wheels, lights, fluids, controls, and stands. Make sure everything is in proper working order before setting out to avoid dangerous equipment failures.
Safe motorcycling takes planning. Motorcycles are much more vulnerable to unsafe road and weather conditions than motor vehicles. Before you begin a ride, plan what route you’re taking and check the weather. Be especially careful after a storm – rain can create and worsen potholes, tree limbs and storm debris may be blocking your path, and wet grass clippings can be deadly. When in doubt, take a different route.
Visibility is a major issue for motorcyclists. Motorcycles are much smaller than passenger cars, making them more difficult to see. As a rider, do what you can to improve your visibility and reduce the risk of an accident. Wear brightly colored clothing, such as yellows and oranges, and a reflective vest. Use your headlight when riding between dusk and dawn. Don’t assume a driver sees you.
As a motorcyclist, you do not have the protections of a seat belt, airbag or metal shell like a motor vehicle driver. The best way to protect yourself from injury in a motorcycle accident is to wear the right gear. This includes pants, a jacket, vest, gloves, boots and a helmet. Although Connecticut law only requires helmets for motorcyclists under the age of 18 and those operating with learner’s permits, all motorcyclists can benefit from helmets, as they significantly reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in accidents.
Due to visibility issues, motorcyclists are highly susceptible to blind spot accidents. Other drivers might not see a motorcycle when switching lanes or merging, for example, and cause a lane-change accident. While riding, try to stay out of other drivers’ blind spots. Do not ride at the same speed as the car in the lane next to you – try to ride behind or ahead of it. Be especially careful around 18-wheelers, as they have even larger blind spots than other cars.
Rear-end collisions are deadlier for motorcyclists than other road users. When you’re riding in traffic, leave room for an escape route whenever possible. At red lights and stop signs, keep your motorcycle in gear and watch the vehicles that are coming up behind you. Leave yourself enough room in front of your motorcycle to maneuver away, if necessary. If the driver behind you does not appear to see you or slow down, use your escape route to avoid being rear-ended. Keep in mind, however, that lane splitting is illegal in Connecticut.
Riding a motorcycle defensively means assuming that the drivers around you don’t see you and will not obey the law. Always assume that you’re invisible to other drivers. Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Keep a safe following distance at all times. Do not ride while distracted, fatigued or intoxicated. Take your safety into your own hands as a motorcyclist to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident. If you do get into a motorcycle crash, contact an attorney for legal assistance. A New Haven motorcycle accident lawyer will have the resources and experience necessary to work through your case and pursue the compensation you deserve.