Motorcycles are incredibly fun – and incredibly dangerous – vehicles. It’s important to know what you’re getting into if you’re considering a motorcycle purchase, and it’s even more important to know the facts from the fiction when it comes to motorcycle safety.
Motorcycles are smaller, lighter, and less enclosed than other passenger vehicles, and these features make them far more dangerous on the road, more susceptible to damage, and more hazardous to the driver. We’ve compiled a list of some of the myths surrounding motorcycle safety so you can better prepare for hitting the road on two wheels.
- Leather is just a fashion statement. Leather jackets have often been associated with motorcycles, and for good reason. Leather is resilient to sliding on rough road surfaces and functions as a sort of armor for motorcyclists. While many people believe that the leather jacket biker look is simply a style choice, the style is rooted in fact. Padded leather jackets are one of the best pieces of safety equipment a biker can own.
- Full-face helmets are dangerous. This is simply untrue. All motorcyclists should wear helmets while riding – regardless of whether or not it’s a law in their state – but it’s important to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet. Such helmets must offer at least a 210-degree field of view, so the rider’s peripheral vision is not impaired. Full-face helmets bear the brunt of wind, debris, bugs, and rain that may hit you while riding.
- Louder means safer. Some people believe that louder exhaust means motorists nearby are more aware of the motorcycle, creating greater safety. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The sound generated by a loud motorcycle travels behind the bike, meaning that motorists ahead can’t hear you any better than they would otherwise.
- Motorcycles are obvious. While it may be true that motorcycles can be eye-catching, this does not mean they are as obvious to other drivers and other cars. Driving defensively is always the safest option on the road. For motorcyclists, you should drive under the assumption that other drivers cannot see you. Many motorcyclists tend to stay toward the inner part of the lane so drivers ahead can more easily spot them in their rear-view mirrors.
- Highways are more dangerous than streets and roads. Many people believe that higher speeds are inherently more dangerous, but according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies, only 9% of all motorcycle crashes took place on highways and interstates. Highway driving eliminates the worry of opposing traffic and offers wider lanes and a much smoother flow of traffic than busy city streets, where driving tends to be more aggressive.
- Heavier bikes are better for new riders. Some people believe that heavier equals safer, but this is untrue for motorcycles. A heavier bike will be more difficult to maneuver, and heavier bikes typically have larger engines that a new rider may have difficulty controlling. A lighter bike with a smaller engine will be much easier for a new rider to handle.
Myths spread when people don’t take the time to learn the facts and investigate on their own. If you’re considering learning how to ride a motorcycle, be sure to arm yourself with facts, the right safety equipment, and a sharp eye on the road. Motorcycling can be great fun, but motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than other passenger vehicles.
If you’ve suffered an injury on a motorcycle or believe a vehicle defect caused an injury, it’s important to consider your legal options. If you’ve been hurt on a motorcycle in the Mountain State, look for an experienced West Virginia motorcycle accident lawyer who offers free consultations for cases like yours.