Some people look forward to nice weather because it allows them to take their motorcycles out of storage and have some fun riding around. Unfortunately, New Jersey seems to have been struck by a plague of motorcycle fatalities this summer. The New Jersey area saw at least five deadly motorcycle accidents in June and July 2011. The Federal Highway Authority reports that there are about 2,500 motorcycle accidents in New Jersey every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 95 motorcycle fatalities in New Jersey in 2009.
Motorcycle accidents can be particularly dangerous because motorcycles lack the protection of a car or truck. Motorcycles do not have the built-in safety features that other vehicles have to prevent driver and passenger injuries such as a metal frame surrounding the driver that engineers have designed to absorb the impact of a crash, airbags, seatbelts and a sturdy windshield. Statistics show that New Jersey motorcycle riders have a 75 percent chance of being injured if they are involved in an accident.
Tips for Staying Safe on a Motorcycle
There are several steps that motorcycle riders can take to increase their safety while enjoying their rides, including:
- Wearing protective riding gear such as a helmet, protective eyewear, gloves, sturdy footwear and abrasion-resistant pants and jacket
- Increasing visibility by wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing
- Leaving plenty of space between the motorcycle and surrounding vehicles
- Slowing down before turning – 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities not involving other vehicles happen while the motorcyclist was attempting to turn a corner
- Avoiding sudden breaking on wet pavement or gravel roads
- Travelling at safe speeds – two-thirds of motorcycle crashes not involving other vehicles result from driving at excessive speeds
- Increasing driving skills through a motorcycle driver skills and safety course
- Never driving while tired
- Never driving while intoxicated
Drivers of other vehicles also need to realize that they share the road with motorcyclists and be on the alert for motorcycles while driving. Additionally, drivers of other vehicles can reduce the risk of being involved in an accident with a motorcyclist by checking blind spots before changing lanes to ensure that there are no motorcycles nearby. Also, drivers of other vehicles can observe road conditions, anticipate that motorcyclists may have more trouble stopping on wet roads, and make necessary adjustments to speed and following distances if they are sharing the road with a motorcycle.
Going for a motorcycle ride should not end in injury or death. If all drivers follow some simple steps, the number of motorcycle accidents could decrease substantially and prevent what should be a fun summer activity from turning into a tragedy.