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What you can do to avoid a serious or deadly motorcycle crash

July 20, 2020

A motorcyclist taking a curve on a road


What better way to appreciate gorgeous summer weather than going for a motorcycle ride on the open road? And although you may be getting lots of riding in, it’s important to remember that it’s not a zero-risk activity. Every time you’re out for a ride, there’s a chance you could end up in a crash that could result in injury or even death. Fortunately, there are things you can do about it, and many are hinted at in the statistics of fatal motorcycle crashes.

But first, some overall numbers. So far in 2020, 24 motorcyclists have been killed in 24 crashes. We can all agree that even one death is too many, so it’s up to us to prevent them. But how? You can start by riding within your skill set, using good judgment, and keeping a minimum two-second following distance. And there are more safety tips based on this year’s statistics.

Consider the statistic about helmet use. Of this year’s 24 motorcyclists killed, 16 weren’t wearing a helmet (in one of the crashes, we don’t know whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet). That’s right: More than 60 percent of the motorcyclists killed so far this year did not have their heads protected. That’s why helmets and other protective gear are so important for motorcyclists. They should be brightly colored (they’re important for visibility as well as protection), and the helmet should be DOT-approved.

Often when we think of motorcycle crashes, we think of a driver who fails to see the motorcyclist, or makes a poor decision with a motorcyclist nearby. But if you think it takes two to crash, think again. Seventeen of this year’s 24 fatal crashes involved only the motorcycle (we’re waiting on the final report for the 24th crash). Whether you’re dealing with inattentive drivers or not, it’s important to stay focused on riding, obey the speed limit, and don’t impair your judgment by consuming alcohol or drugs before you ride.

Sometimes the roads themselves have something to do with a crash. Curves can be especially deadly, especially if you take them too fast. Half (12) of the fatal crashes this year involved a rider negotiating a curve, so it’s important to know how to take those curves safely.

That’s where training comes in. Public safety officials recommend taking a training course every couple of years to dust off and improve your riding skills. And they’re not just for beginners; Intermediate, Advanced and Expert rider courses are available as well. Training courses are happening now, and although there are spots still available, you should sign up as soon as you can. The training season was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, so space is limited this year. You can register online can motorcyclesafety.org.

It may seem as if COVID-19 has taken some joy out of the year, and riding your motorcycle can certainly put it back in. As we’ve learned from crash statistics, though, it comes with its share of risks. It’s not possible to prevent every crash, but if you can learn from the statistics, you can ride as safely as possible.