Get prepared during national motorcycle safety awareness month

Last updated: January 1

Warmer weather can entice motorcyclists to get back on their bikes and out on the road. And since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, it's a great time for riders to help ensure that each ride is both safe and enjoyable. Consider these tips on protective gear and safe riding techniques before you take your motorcycle out on the road again:

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Equipment and gear

It's important to have the equipment and gear that helps keep you safe while you ride. For starters, the National Safety Council (NSC) recommends that riders choose a motorcycle that fits your body type and riding style. Your motorcycle should not be too big or too heavy for you to handle. Also, make sure you have the right type of motorcycle for your needs: street bike, off-road bike or dual-purpose bike. The National Highway and Transportation Association also recommends checking the tires, brakes, headlights, turn signals and fluids before you take your bike out. Also, make sure you've secured cargo.

Helmet considerations

The NSC suggests that motorcycle riders wear a full-coverage helmet because it may offer the most protection. When purchasing a new helmet, look for the "DOT" sticker so that you know it meets the Department of Transportation's safety standards. Do not buy a used helmet, as it can be difficult to tell if the helmet has sustained any damage. According to the Snell Memorial Foundation, you may also want to replace your helmet if it is more than five years old, as helmets degrade over time. to see if it meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards, look for the DOT sticker usually found on the back of the helmet.

Upper body protection

Motorcycle gloves can help protect your hands from the elements or during an accident, and they may also help you grip the handlebars. Look for full-fingered gloves that fit properly, says the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). In addition, long-sleeved jackets made of abrasive-resistant fabrics or leather can help protect against injury in the event of a crash, according to the MSF.

Lower body protection

Riding pants should also be made of abrasive-resistant materials, says the MSF. Boots should go over the ankle and feature oil-resistant, rubber-based composite soles for good grip.

Riding skills and habits

Beyond having the right motorcycle and protective gear, riders can help improve their safety by practicing some simple riding skills and knowing the rules of the road. The NSC recommends:

  • Taking a motorcycle safety course
  • Driving defensively, especially at intersections
  • Driving within speed limits
  • Looking for potential hazards, such as potholes, manhole covers, oil patches, puddles and gravel
  • Always driving with your headlights on
  • Position yourself where it's easy for other motorists to see you

Making sure you have the right gear and proper training can help prepare you for a safe motorcycle season. When you make safety a priority, you may have more peace of mind while you're riding down the open road.