March 20 marked the official first day of spring, but the actual start of “real” spring weather can vary greatly in the Midwest. By the time real spring weather does break, the streets are bombarded with two-wheel enthusiasts. Of course, with that hobby comes a slew of dangers unlike other warm weather activities. In fact, national statistics show motorcycle fatalities occur almost 30 times more often than fatalities in other types of vehicles. Fortunately, there are some easy and effective tips to avoid becoming a victim of a motorcycle accident and ensure springtime rides remain safe and fun for everyone.
Clean and Inspect Your Bike
It’s essential to perform an inspection on your motorcycle prior to the first ride of the season–or as soon as possible. T-CLOCS stands for Tires, Controls, Lights/electronics, Oil/other fluids, Chassis, and Stands. Use the checklist to keep up on maintenance and avoid potential disaster. Also, be sure to clean up your bike as winter dirt or built-up storage dust can cause unexpected mechanical problems. If there’s still an issue you can’t correct yourself, have it checked out professionally.
Pack Seasonal and Emergency Equipment
Spring offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy warm weather, but rain is also plentiful and often completely unexpected. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the most dangerous time on the road is just minutes after a rainstorm starts–just after the divots in asphalt have time to fill with oily residue from the rainwater. So don’t get caught unaware. Pack a small bag with rain gear for whoever is on the bike. Umbrellas, lightweight jackets, sealed ziplock bags for cell phones, and the number of your Michigan motorcycle accident attorney can be enough to get you out of some serious trouble if it arises.
Wear Layers and Protective Clothing
Spring weather can change drastically within a single day, so it’s essential to prepare and work with that reality. Start off wearing plenty of layers to protect your skin from the wind and elements. You can always stop at a gas station or business to remove items as the day progresses or temperatures increase. Boots, gloves, and a well-fitting helmet offer necessary protection on the open road.
Increase Your Visibility
Motorcyclists are often a liability on the road due, in large part, to their size and open accessibility. Risky driving behaviors such as following too closely and weaving between traffic can have fatal consequences. Think clearly, drive defensively, and always prioritize safety on the road. Use your blinkers, pay attention to passenger car blind spots, and reduce speed when in doubt to increase your visibility and decrease the risks of becoming the victim of a motorcycle accident.
Be Aware of the Road Conditions
The weather may be perfect, but the road conditions may still reflect the harsh post-winter weather realities. Potholes and salt-torn asphalt patches are far-too-common in the Midwest and they do a number on passenger cars. So just imagine the damage and destruction they can cause if hit just right on a motorcycle. Even if construction begins in the winter or early spring, it usually doesn’t complete until late summer. Always plan your routes accordingly and avoid dangerous road conditions whenever possible.
Stick to Daylight Rides for a While
It can take a while to regain and recall previous riding skills, especially if you’re a novice, inexperienced, or an occasional motorcyclist. Road conditions can add to that and create more issues during the evening hours. The best way to avoid trouble is to stick to riding during daylight hours for a while. Improve your skills while getting used to the roads again. And if you need to go on an overnight or extended trip, incorporate some camping or check into a hotel to increase the fun and avoid becoming a victim of a motorcycle accident.