- Get properly licensed. The IIHS reports that in 2016, 27 percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of their crash. A potential reason for the high rate of fatalities among unlicensed riders is that the riders simply lacked basic skills. One of the key reasons for licensing requirements is they ensure riders have the necessary knowledge to safely operate a motorcycle. Nevada requires operators of motorcycles to hold a Class M driver’s license. To qualify for a Class M license a driver must pass a written exam and demonstrate competency through a driving skills test. Instead of taking these exams a driver can instead complete a course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
- Wear a helmet and have one handy for passengers. Properly designed and fit helmets can go a long way toward reducing a rider’s risk of death or serious brain injury in an accident. Nevada requires motorcycle drivers and their passengers to wear helmets. Riders should also consider wearing other types of protective gear, such as boots, gloves, and leathers to reduce the risk of severe road rash.
- Ride defensively. Experienced riders know that the most dangerous thing on the road is other drivers. Even an attentive driver can be caught off guard by a motorcycle hiding in a blind spot. But drivers distracted by phones, radios, and passengers are a constant danger. The best practice for riders is to drive defensively, allowing plenty of space around the motorcycle to allow time to respond to sudden, unpredictable moves by other drivers. Driving defensively is an especially good idea around Las Vegas. Our roads can be dangerous for motorcyclists thanks to our city’s interesting (distracting) sights, high number of tourists, and alcohol-fueled entertainment industry.
- Don’t drink and ride. Despite decades of relentless public awareness campaigns people continue to drink and drive at dangerous levels. Motorcyclists are especially at risk of serious accidents when they drink and ride.
- Avoid riding while tired. Drowsy driving is dangerous for operators of every kind of vehicle. A motorcyclist who drifts off while riding may be especially at risk of serious injury.
- Obey traffic laws. Motorcyclists should be especially mindful of the rules of the road. Obeying traffic signals makes a driver more predictable for other drivers. Obeying posted speed limits, especially on rough surfaces or curvy roads, can be the difference between a controlled skid and a loss of control. Motorcyclists also need to understand and follow the rules for lane splitting and other driving options that are available to them in high-traffic circumstances.
Motorcycle accidents often result in serious personal injuries for riders. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, compiles nationwide statistics on motorcycle crashes, which tell an interesting story about the common causes of accidents and injuries. They can also tell us something about how riders can prevent and avoid serious accidents and reduce the risk of serious injury or death.