Motorcycle Safety: The Basics

Discover and protect yourself from risks on the road with these motorcycle safety tips.

motorcycle rider buckles his helmet for motorcycle safety

What is Motorcycle Safety?

Motorcycle safety refers to the practices and precautions taken to protect riders from risks while using motorcycles on the road. It encompasses multiple safety aspects, from rider behavior and protective gear to motorcycle maintenance and compliance with traffic laws. Following these practices can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents and keep individuals safe on the road.

Motorcycle Safety Statistics

Safety is a must for motorcycle riders and enthusiasts alike, given the hazards associated with this vehicle. In fact, statistics show that motorcyclists are more prone to accidents and serious injuries compared to drivers of other vehicles. 

Here’s a quick overview of motorcycle-related incidents in numbers as of 2021:

  • According to the World Health Organization, motorcyclists belong to the most vulnerable road users who make up more than half of all road-related fatalities.
  • In India, motorcycles and two-wheeled vehicles have contributed to approximately 44 percent of all road-related accidental deaths.
  • In the European Union, motorcycles pose a higher risk of collisions resulting in serious or fatal injuries, comprising 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in the entire region.
  • In the United States, motorcycles have accounted for roughly 14 percent of all road fatalities. This makes it 5 times more fatal than other forms of transportation.
  • In the United Kingdom, motorcycle crashes and related accidents have caused over 5,000 reported deaths and serious casualties in the United Kingdom.

10 Safety Hazards While Riding Motorcycles

Motorcycles offer a fast and convenient way of transporting goods and people from one place to another. For this reason, these two-wheeled vehicles are utilized in delivery services, logistics, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. However, they come with a couple of road safety risks, just like any other vehicle.

One of the best ways to keep safe during motorcycle rides involves knowing what risks you can encounter on the road. Here are ten of the most common motorcycle safety hazards to watch out for:

  1. Lack of visibility – Motorcycles are smaller and more difficult to see than other vehicles, increasing their risk of collisions. Thus, other drivers are more likely to overlook them on the road, especially in blind spots or when changing lanes.
  2. Road conditions – Defects on the road surface pose safety hazards to motorcyclists. For example, potholes, uneven pavements, or oil spills can decrease traction on the road, resulting in accidents.
  3. Distracted driving – Drivers engaged in activities like texting, talking on the phone, or using in-car technology, are less likely to notice motorcycles and more likely to be involved in collisions. Failing to look at the road properly is the leading cause of motorcycle-related crashes in the United Kingdom
  4. Driver negligence – Negligent actions from other drivers present a serious threat to the safety of motorcyclists. Crashes are more likely to occur when drivers suddenly change lanes, run the red lights, or fail to yield right-of-way.
  5. Impairments – Drivers under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications are more likely to get involved in accidents, as these conditions can give them reduced reaction time, diminished coordination, and impaired judgment. In the United States, 29 percent of motorcycle-related injuries have resulted from drunk driving.
  6. Intersection collisions – Intersections are common locations for accidents involving motorcycles. Motorists may misjudge the distance of motorcycles or their speed when turning left or crossing intersections. 
  7. High-speed collisions – Excessive speeding seriously increases the risk of accidents for motorcycle riders. The faster the vehicle goes, the lesser time riders have to react to impending hazards, and the gravity of the crash heightens.
  8. Lack of protective gear – Failure to use protective equipment, such as helmets, pants, gloves, and boots, makes riders susceptible to head injuries, fractures, and abrasions.
  9. Weather conditionsAdverse weather conditions, such as rain, strong winds, fog, or snow, expose motorcyclists to additional hazards. Slippery surfaces, reduced visibility, and poor traction can compromise the safety of riders, especially if they aren’t careful.
  10. Lack of experience – Inexperienced motorcycle riders are more vulnerable to safety hazards due to poor judgment, improper control, and a lack of knowledge about safe riding practices.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Now that you know the most common hazards in motorcycle safety, what measures can you implement to avoid them? Here are the 5 motorcycle safety tips you should follow:

1. Wear Protective Gear

Using protective gear is the single most effective way to protect yourself on the road. Donning the appropriate helmet, gloves, jacket, pants, and boots greatly reduces the impact of falls and collisions on your body and safeguards you from head injuries, burns, fractures, and abrasions.

Make sure to choose a protective gear that meets safety standards (e.g., Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) and fits you properly.

2. Observe Traffic Laws

Another great way to be safe on the road is by following traffic laws and regulations in your area. Pay attention to the speed limit, turn signals, and traffic lights as you navigate the roads. Doing so is vital not only for your safety but also for the safety of other drivers.

To learn more about traffic and road safety regulations, make sure to check the website of your local, state, or national authorities.

3. Develop Defensive Riding Skills

Defensive riding skills are a must for any motorcycle rider, as it helps them anticipate and avoid potential hazards on the road. Not only does it lower the chances of crashes, but it also reduces maintenance and repair costs resulting from these accidents. 

Here are a few tips to help you enhance this skill:

  • Stay focused on the road.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Watch out for pedestrians on the road.
  • Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Anticipate the actions of other drivers.
  • Use turn signals to alert other drivers of your movement.
  • Check your blind spots before changing lanes or making turns.

4. Perform Regular Maintenance and Inspections

Inspections and maintenance help keep your motorcycle in good condition and ensure it’s safe to use. Periodically carrying them out reduces the risk of mechanical failures that can result in avoidable accidents. 

Before each ride, make sure to check the brakes, tires, lights, and other critical components. Riders can use a digital vehicle inspection checklist when going through these parts to make sure that no item is overlooked.

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5. Ride Within Your Limits

Lastly, self-awareness is crucial for motorcycle safety on the road. It’s important to know your riding capabilities and stay within your limits. For example, if you’ve ingested alcohol or taken medication, it’s best to refrain from driving. 

Furthermore, if you’re new to motorcycle riding, it’s recommended to avoid taking unnecessary risks or trying maneuvers beyond your skill level. Instead, you can gradually push your limits as you gain more experience.

Leizel Estrellas
Article by
Leizel Estrellas
Leizel Estrellas is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. Her academic and professional training as a researcher allows her to write meaningful articles that create a lasting impact. As a content specialist, she strives to promote a culture of safety in the workplace through accessible and reader-friendly content. With her high-quality work, she is keen on helping businesses across industries identify issues and opportunities to improve every day.