If you’re an Oregon motorcyclist, and you made it through 2011 unscathed, congratulations. Not everyone was so lucky. Every year, dozens of cyclists need the services of a good Oregon motorcycle accident attorney, largely because motorists frequently seem unable to spot a motorcycle on the road. For now, your motorcycle is probably safely stowed away, waiting for the warmer weather to return, and the ice to disappear.
While you’re waiting, we’d like to offer our Top 10 tips for safe motorcycling, in the hopes that if you follow them, you’ll remain healthy for many seasons to come. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month may not take place till May, but let’s give you the jump on how to stay healthy while still enjoying the open roads.
- Just assume the motorists can’t see you. Try to make eye contact with drivers. If you’re successful, they probably won’t pull directly into your path.
- Even if they see you coming, you can’t count on motorists and pedestrians being able to judge your speed or distance from them. Expect them to make mistakes.
- The most common type of motorcycle crash is caused when an oncoming vehicle turns left in front of a cyclist. Just about every motorcycle injury attorney in the country has represented a client who’s been in this type of accident.
- If it’s you who’s making a left turn, be sure to check your mirrors and make sure you have plenty of space behind you. If the vehicles behind you don’t slow down for you, be prepared to take evasive action.
- It’s not just winter conditions that make cycling hazardous. Wet roads, potholes, oil spills and even highway sealants can cause you to lose traction and crash. Watch out for any of these, as well as patches of sand or gravel roads, which can also be tricky.
- It’s not always the other motorists that are at fault. A lot of motorcycle accidents happen on bends, when the motorcyclist is moving too fast. Running off the road on one side, or crossing the center line and getting hit by oncoming traffic are two common causes of cycling accidents. Slow down when approaching curves and be aware of your lane positioning.
- This one may sound obvious and even boring, but never get on a motorcycle without an appropriate helmet that meets all current safety standards. The facts are irrefutable. Helmets prevent head injuries in 67% of motorcycle crashes and deaths in 29%.
- Fortunately, a lot of the clothing designed for motorcyclists looks good, as well as providing an element of safety. Protective clothing designed specifically for cyclists will shield you from weather, protect you from flying debris and offer some security during a crash. They’ll also keep you warm and dry, which will help you stay alert and keep your muscles loose and coordinated. Wearing layers of clothes is advisable, so you can adjust to sudden weather changes, but jeans are a bad idea and lightweight pants or shorts are even worse. They give little or no protection in the event of a fall.
- Try to shield your eyes from constant wind and flying debris. Watering eyes make it very difficult to see potential trouble ahead. Insects and flying debris can cause injuries to your eyes and face, too, so consider a helmet with a built-in face shield.
- Make sure you’re seen. Any motorcycle accident attorney will know that the majority of their cases come as a result of motorists just not seeing an oncoming motorcycle. Wearing bright, reflective clothing with extra reflective material added will alert other road users to your approach. Reflective vests are a good idea; even sticking reflective tape to the back and sides of your helmet will help you be seen. Keep your headlight on at all times, day or night. Anything you can do to increase your visibility will help prevent a potentially serious accident. That includes staying out of motorists’ blind spots.
It seems almost unfair that motorcyclists have to take so much responsibility for other road users’ actions, but the fact is, in any road accident involving a motorcycle and another vehicle, the cyclist is almost certainly to come out of the accident in worse condition than the motorist. Cyclists should always assume the other guy can’t see them. Leave yourself room to take evasive action in any hazardous situation, which basically means any time you go out on the road!
And if the worst happens, and you are injured through someone else’s negligence, the first thing you must do is get the medical help you require. After that, contact an experienced Portland motorcycle accident lawyer, who will help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Be seen, be alert and aware, and stay safe on the roads in 2012.