One only has to look to the popularity of motorcycles in the United States to determine that riding these vehicles is something that many Americans enjoy tremendously. Unfortunately, it also puts riders and their passengers at a significant risk of serious injury. Unlike passenger vehicles, motorcycles do no provide their operators with any protection from the elements, and motorcyclists can easily be thrown from their vehicles and into harm’s way in the event of a collision. For this reason, it is only prudent that people who ride take every step they can to ensure that they are as safe as possible when they take their motorcycles out on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates there are three steps that motorcyclists can take to become “road ready,” which are as follows:
- Get Licensed – Driving a car is much, much different than riding a motorcycle. Motorcycle licensing requirements vary across the country, but all 50 state require motorcyclists to obtain an endorsement to their basic license in order to be able to ride legally. Generally speaking, the requirements to obtain a motorcycle endorsement involve a written exam and a skills test, but some state require the completion of a motorcyclist education course. Even if your state does not require a course, doing so will likely make you a better rider and is often advisable.
- Practice Operating Your Motorcycle – Different motorcycles can handle extremely differently, and it is a good idea to get fully acquainted with a motorcycle before taking it out into traffic. Practice riding in a variety of conditions, including in bad weather, on poorly surfaced roads, or with passengers or cargo.
- Practice Motorcycle Maintenance – Make sure that your motorcycle is safe every time your ride. Before taking it out, check the tire pressure, fluid levels, headlamps, signal indicators, and tire tread. If you are carrying cargo or a passenger with you, make sure to adjust the tire pressure and suspension appropriately.