There's no denying it: Motorcycles are cool. From the unmistakable sound of a revving engine to the iconic leather jacket and sunglasses you can outfit yourself in, bikers know that cruising around town, out in the country or down the highway on a road trip is infinitely more stylish and fun than getting from place to place in a car, truck or - gasp! - a minivan.
Of course, that doesn't mean that being on a bike is necessarily the safest way to travel. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has said that bikers are a whopping 30 times more likely to be killed in a crash than people who are inside a car.
That means that it's up to motorcyclists to do whatever they can to stay safe out on the roads. Having said that, many wrecks are essentially unpreventable when drivers of cars, semis or other vehicles don't see a person on a motorcycle or misjudge distance or speed. Here are five things you can do long before you fire up the engine to help keep yourself out of a motorcycle accident in the first place:
- Take a safety course. You could learn new techniques to ride responsibly and how to take emergency evasive maneuvers if needed. As a bonus, some insurance plans may offer discounts or credits to riders who take a safety course.
- Buy the right bike for you. You may not need the biggest, most powerful motorcycle on the block. Get something you feel comfortable with so you can ride with confidence.
- Check your bike before you head out. It only takes a couple of minutes to make sure everything is working properly and that you aren't missing any obvious mechanical issues. Even verifying that your tires are inflated properly and in good shape can save you trouble when you need them to perform at their best.
- Take the weather into account. If conditions are poor, you might have to negotiate rain, ice, or gusts of wind that could push you out of your lane and make riding more difficult. Also, everyone else on the road will be thinking about the weather and not necessarily double-checking for motorcycles that might be in their path.
- Wear a helmet. You might think having a helmet on would throw a wet blanket on the coolness factor. But there are plenty of helmets out there these days that enhance your appearance while improving your safety too.