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10 Safety Tips Learned From Motorcycle Crash Studies

What many experienced riders may think are common-sense tips for staying safe while riding on the streets are scientifically proven to be rooted in fact.

Examples? Be extra careful at intersections. Practice hard braking and swerving. Always scan the road ahead for dangers.

Here are 10 tips that American and European studies show will help keep you safe.

  1. Scan for danger ahead. Nearly 90 percent of the other vehicles involved in the studied crashes were in front of the motorcycle, between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions. While getting rear-ended may be a common fear, less than 3 percent of the crashes studied involved a motorcyclist being hit from behind.
  2. Motorcyclists need to practice evasive maneuvers. Researchers interviewed witnesses, examined skid marks and used other clues to determine what evasive maneuvers the motorcyclist made to avoid a crash involving another vehicle. Riders mainly used braking (49 percent) or swerving (16 percent) to avoid the collision. But 27 percent did nothing at all. Another 32 percent lost control of their motorcycles while trying to avoid a crash.
  3. Be careful at intersections. Some 54 percent of studied crashes happened at intersections.
  4. Watch out for careless drivers. In crashes involving a traffic control like a traffic light or stop sign, other road users were more likely to have caused a crash than motorcyclists.
  5. Crashes happen at any speed. Half of the motorcycles involved in crashes were going 30 mph or slower when the crash occurred. Even among fatal crashes, more than 19 percent were traveling slower than 30 mph.
  6. The car, truck and motorcycle operators cause the crashes. In 99 percent of the crashes studied, there were no mechanical problems with the vehicles involved.
  7. Motorcyclists see other motorcyclists. Drivers who have a motorcycle endorsement on their licenses are much less likely to be involved in a crash with a motorcycle than non-riders driving cars. Only 13 percent of the drivers who said they didn’t see the motorcycle in a crash had a motorcycle endorsement.
  8. Bigger bikes don’t mean more danger. There’s no relation between the size of a motorcycle’s engine and its chance of being in a crash. In fact, bikes in the over-1,000cc category seem to be less likely to be involved in a crash.
  9. Helmets prevent or reduce head injuries. More than 90 percent of riders and their passengers in crashes were wearing helmets, and the researchers estimated that helmets were effective 69 percent of the time in preventing or reducing head injuries.
  10. Experience counts. The more years you have in the saddle the less likely you are to be involved in a crash. Congratulations!