For many motorcycle enthusiasts, the cooling temperatures and the first sign of snow, force them to take their bikes off the road, winterize and store them for a winter, all the while counting down the days until they can feel the open air on the road again. In other states, where the snow rarely falls, and the daytime temps stay tolerable, motorcyclists are seen traveling the road, year round. Regardless of the season or the region of the country, motorcycling in general, remains popular.
Unfortunately, the motorcycle accident statistics back up and prove the growing popularity. According to the most recent published statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4, 612 motorcycle related deaths in 2011 (up from 4,518 in 2010) and 81,000 injuries (down from 82,000 in 2010). Whether snowy or sunny, motorcyclists and motorists must share the road and arrive alive during the holiday season.
Sharing the Road with Winter Riders
If you live in a state that is known for snowy and icy landscapes during the winter months, most motorcyclists know how dangerous and difficult the roads can be and ultimately retire their bikes for the season. However, some “hardcore” riders brave the roads in most any condition. While you may not be used to seeing a motorcyclist, you should plan to pay more attention during the winter months. Remember how important it is to adjust to seeing snowplows or snowmobiles in the winter? Add motorcyclists to that “watch for” list.
As any driver knows, winter driving requires a different level of attention. When the weather changes and the road conditions worsen, it’s important to slow down, give yourself some extra time and get rid of any aggressive driving tendencies such as speeding, tailgating, and sudden lane changes. A quick and irresponsible move can cause a terrible accident, especially if road conditions are less than ideal.
As you would any other time of the year, you will need to remain on the lookout for fellow motorists on motorcycles, in small cars, and in big rigs. Falling, accumulating snow can reduce the distance of visibility and impair a driver’s vision, including blind spots. Make sure you look all around you before changing lanes, using an on/exit ramp, or pulling over to the side of the road.
While you, as a driver, try to make all of your moves known and remain visible by clearing snow off of your car and using your headlights, motorcyclists are equally responsible for remaining visible on the road (especially when the weather gets rough).
Winter Riders: Are you Ready and Visible?
As a motorcyclist, you may only enjoy riding in pleasant, picture perfect weather; however you also know that weather can change quickly and even if you never intended to, you may have been caught in a small snow storm once or twice. If you continue to ride during the winter, here are some tips to consider avoiding being victim of a motorcycle and vehicle collision:
Make Yourself Visible.
As you know, this rule applies all year round. Fellow motorists often do a bad job of looking for cyclists. If you wear brightly colored or reflective gear, the chance of you being spotted is a little greater.
Don’t Assume that Drivers See You.
Anyone who has had a “close call” will learn that drivers don’t always see motorcyclists. You, as a rider, need to make your intentions known. That means using arm and light signals, look both ways before crossing an intersection, and follow road rules. Just because you can speed quickly, doesn’t mean you can escape or avoid a dangerous situation quickly.
It can get cold quickly on a motorcycle. Clothing might be a financial investment that you are not thrilled to make, but the proper gear designed for colder temperatures can end up being a life-saving investment.
Winterize Your Bike.
If you are an experienced rider, you already know that your bike needs to be equipped and ready for colder weather. Make sure your tires, oil and other bike essentials are suitable for winter if you are planning on riding through the winter season.
Don’t Drink and Ride.
This is not strictly seasonal advice. Operating any type of vehicle after drinking is a dangerous decision. Not only is it illegal, but it can injure or kill you or innocent motorists and passengers. Of the recent stats from NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities related to the use of alcohol increased from 1,280 in 2010 to 1,390 in 2011. Alcohol related fatalities are not breaking news; it seems to be an endless battle and drivers fail to follow the rules, especially during the holiday season when drink flows heavily.
Don’t let the weather get you down this winter. Make the best of it by getting out and enjoying the newly fallen snow or heading to a holiday party. Whichever way you choose to travel, look out for yourself and others. Don’t let a nasty collision ruin your holiday spirit.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: thinkstock.com
Robert Gordon is the editor of medical-directions.com, a health fanatic and avid Kayaker. He spends most of his time reading medical blogs and searching for new content to engage his readership.