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What Motorcyclists Can Do to Increase Their Safety

There are many motorcycle accidents and deaths in Ontario each year. A nine-year highof motorcycle fatalities was reached in 2014, when 32 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes on OPP-patrolled roads. Motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable motorists on the road. If you go out on a motorcycle, there are a number of ways that you can help to protect yourself on the road. These measures include but are not limited to wearing protective gear, getting appropriate training and review, following the rules of the road, conducting regular maintenance and becoming active in the motorcycle community, all of which are outlined here below.

Protective Gear

Wearing mandatory protective gear for motorcyclists is the law in Ontario. Specifically, it is required that you protect the most important part of your body – your head – with an approved safety helmet. Many motorcyclists have survived collisions because of wearing a helmet, even for short rides. No exceptions are made in Ontario on religious grounds despite challenges in both 2008 and 2014.

The best helmet protection available is provided by a full-face helmet, which also gives the most comfort, reduces noise and shields your face from wind, bugs and other debris. The helmet should fit snugly and not slide around on your head as studies of motorcycle accidents show that a loose helmet will come off in a collision. If you do not select a full face helmet, wraparound sunglasses will provide some protection against wind and bugs. Your helmet should be replaced if you’ve been in a crash, dropped it, or if it is showing signs of wear or the helmet has reached its expiry date. Selecting a bright helmet and adding reflective tape will improve your visibility to other road users.

To protect your body, a well-constructed bright motorcycle jacket made of leather, nylon or Kevlar is recommended, with reflective strips, heavy padding on the elbows, shoulders and spine or a one- or two-piece riding suit. Long pants are essential, even in warm weather, to protect you from the potential for road rash if you fall. Layered clothing and rain suits are recommended for long drives. Protective clothing can prevent or lessen an injury if you fall or have a collision, and it can protect you from the wind, rain, stones, debris, insects and the cold.
Your hands should always be protected with leather gloves, preferably with carbon fibre protection, even in the summer. Gloves will give you a better hold on the hand-grips and controls, and, if you fall, the gloves can protect your hands, which you naturally put out to protect yourself. Your feet and ankles should also be protected with sturdy, flat boots that have a short heel and a durable rubber sole. Shoes or boots with rings, laces or heels could catch on the motorcycle’s controls.

Training and Review

While training is required in order to get your motorcycle licence in the beginning, a refresher course can increase your confidence and safety on the road. The Canada Safety Council’s Refresher Program is an eight hour course (6 on the bike and 2 in the classroom) designed to give experienced motorcyclists the opportunity to brush up on their driving and defensive driving skills. You can also stay connected with the safety rules by becoming a motorcycle safety course instructor yourself.

You can go out on your bike with a private instructor or a friend who can help you review your driving. Travelling with another motorcyclist or a group of motorcyclists will make you safer and more visible than riding alone.

You have the option of watching instructional videos or reviewing basic rules from the official motorcycle handbook at any time. It never hurts to go over the traffic rules and defensive driving techniques. If you don’t have a copy of the motorcycle’s handbook, it can be found where maps are available for sale, including in your local pharmacy and grocery store.

In addition to honing your own motorcycle driving skills, be sure to make eye contact and read other driver’s communication or lack of it. Never assume that they have seen you or will respect your right of way. They may not see you or accurately judge your distance or speed of approach.

Follow the Rules of the Road

It is imperative that you follow the rules of the road at all times and use common sense every time you get on a motorcycle. It is particularly important to watch for the weather and road conditions, monitor your speed and be aware of your fatigue level. It is recommended that you find another mode of transportation than your motorbike if you are sleepy, fatigued, feeling sick, upset or angry or you have taken prescription medication or consumed any alcohol. These factors can impair your judgment and significantly reduce your ability to think and react quickly. Driving a motorbike is a serious responsibility that requires you to drive unimpaired with undivided attention.

Regular Maintenance

In addition to regular vehicle servicing recommended in your owner’s manual, your tires need to be properly maintained and inflated with the appropriate tire pressure. You should also go around the vehicle and visually inspect it each time before use. A breakdown in your vehicle while driving can be not only inconvenient but also highly dangerous for you and for others on the road.

Become Active about Motorcycling In Your Community

You can give back to the motorcycling community by volunteering for organizations such as the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC). The MCC advocates for the motorcycling community on public policy and rider safety issues.

Contact Howard Yegendorf & Associates

At Howard Yegendorf & Associates, we have seen the aftermath of many serious motor vehicle accidents, including fatal accidents. Our personal injury lawyers in Ottawa are compassionate in helping motorcycle accident victims and their families. We have motorcycle accident and wrongful death lawyers available in Ottawa and Toronto. If you or a loved one were involved in a motorcycle accident, call our Ottawa and Toronto motorcycle accident lawyers today at 1-866-303-5118.

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