Tips to Help Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

As the motorcycle accident attorney at Schiller & Hamilton, I have represented thousands of injured bikers over the last 20 years. I have, myself been on two wheels since I was 8 years old. Unfortunately, many bikers, especially the ones with the most experience, have developed bad riding habits. In fact, most if not all of my clients have never taken the Motorcycle Class. I am equally guilty of being self-taught and admittedly ride by instinct. As a result there are many accidents that, although a car clearly caused, could have been avoided using better riding technique.

Over the years, I have attended several demonstrations and viewed videos provided by Ride Like a Pro instructor Jerry “Motorman” Palladino. In his videos he demonstrates proper riding techniques that can help riders avoid some common dangers out on the road. Being able to safely maneuver your bike in sudden emergencies is the key to keeping safe. Jerry stresses the importance of keeping head and eyes up at all times and maintaining proper posture. Applying brakes too quickly or without a proper balance between the front and rear brakes will often lead to the dreaded road rash. While the risks bikers face on the road are numerous, let’s talk about a few of them here.

The most common risk resulting in crashes between cars and bikes is the left turn by a car approaching from the opposite direction. When approaching any intersection one should reduce speed whether on a bike or in a car. On a motorcycle, however, a rider can stop a bike in half the distance when travelling 30 mph versus 40 mph. At 40 mph it takes a motorcycle 60 feet to stop but at 30 mph the rider can safely stop the motorcycle in just 30 feet. As you can imagine many drivers making the left turn in front of you rarely afford 30 feet for stopping. In these situations a biker must swerve to avoid contact.

Swerving and braking simultaneously can be disastrous. However, if you brake first then swerve you will be more likely to avoid the collision and keep the bike upright. Swerving at speeds above 15 mph requires a biker to be competent at counter steering. Counter steering involves pushing down on the grip on which side you want the bike o lean and thereby swerve. Mastering this technique can help bikers avoid all sorts of motorcycle crashes. One of these being the sudden stop of the vehicle in front of you or the car next to you changing lanes without warning. And of course my favorite, the car attempting to pull out into your lane and then stopping when they finally realize you are there. Never brake and swerve at the same time. This usually ends up with the bike getting sideways and going down. Practicing this maneuver can be lifesaving.

Additional tips for riders’ safety involve the 12 Second Rule. The 12 Second Rule simply means to keep your eyes and head up looking 12 seconds in front of you. Often times you can see other vehicles in front of you beginning their movement that will place you in harm’s way and you will be able to respond. This is especially true for motorists pulling out from side streets. Always assume the other driver does not see you and will not stop. When approaching intersections never pass other vehicles. This may place you in a position where the oncoming traffic cannot see you. As you ride, maintaining proper position in your lane, avoid lane-splitting and avoiding riding alongside other vehicles, keeping your escape routes in mind, proper braking and steering, appropriate speeds and keeping eyes 12 seconds ahead of you will help you better avoid some of the most common motorcycle accidents on the roads today.

Next time, I will discuss the Friction Zone and low speed turns such as the dreaded U-turn. I will also share with you several tips on riding in groups and with passengers. Until then, be safe and keep her shiny side up.

If you or someone you know has been injured on a motorcycle, please have them call me. I have been representing injured bikers for over twenty years. Let me put my experience both as a rider and a lawyer to work for you. I offer A Complimentary Strategy Sessions and will come to you if you are unable to come to one of our four locations. At Schiller & Hamilton, We’ve Got Your Back!