Motorcycles and bicycles are great ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Riders can explore the open road and enjoy the rush these activities offer.
Our home state is a beautiful place to ride. You can visit the south to enjoy Louisiana’s miles of coastline or head north and take in the beauty of our parks and national forests. But riding doesn’t come without risk. These hobbies require the ability to react quickly in sticky situations.
Wherever you choose to ride, we at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson L.L.C. want you to have fun. To help you stay safe, we’re covering some of the causes of biking injuries. We’ve also come up with some tips for new riders as well as general safety tips.
Scroll down for motorcycle tips or click here for the bicycle section.
Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The most recent stats on motorcyclist deaths come from a 2011 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In that year alone, 4,612 motorcyclists died in accidents. These figures have been consistent from year to year, with little to no decrease in the amount of motorcyclist fatalities.
According to NHTSA, 70% of all motorcycle accidents happen at intersections. Any number of circumstances can cause a crash, from bad weather to negligent drivers, but some of the top reasons motorcycle accidents occur include:
- Little to no basic riding skills
- Limited understanding of how motorcycles work
- A lack of awareness of the repercussions of unsafe driving
- Unrefined cornering and breaking skills
- Failure to drive defensively
- Failure to respect posted speed limits
Tips for New Motorcyclists
When you’re learning to ride a motorcycle, you have to begin somewhere. You may be excited to get on the road, but it’s crucial you learn how to keep yourself and others safe while you ride.
New riders should do the following:
- Take a motorcycle class. Many states require those seeking a motorcycle license to take a safety course. In Louisiana, you have to pass a written test and an on-cycle test, but a formal class isn’t required. Regardless, taking a class through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation can help you hone your basic skills.
- Watch the road. Despite how in control you may think you are, a small piece of debris or a patch of dirt or sand can cause serious problems. Always scan the road and have an escape route planned if you come across an obstacle.
- Check the forecast. Riding in inclement weather can be tricky the first few times. Know if it’s supposed to rain so you can avoid getting caught in bad weather.
- Never drive distracted. Avoid using your phone or listening to music when you’re learning to ride. These are major distractions that can place you at fault in an accident.
- Don’t carry passengers. Having someone on the back of your bike changes how it handles. Learn your bike first. When you’re ready to have passengers, make sure they wear the proper gear and understand what they need to do.
- Keep your eyes moving. Looking at one thing, like the car ahead of you, for too long can make it difficult to be aware of what’s going on around you.
- Observe the vehicles around you. Other drivers may or may not see you. It’s safer to assume they don’t. This is true for oncoming traffic that is making a turn in front of you or across an intersection.
General Motorcycle Safety Tips
Riding a motorcycle takes a lot of awareness, even more than driving a car or truck. Seasoned riders and newbies alike have a lot to think about when on the road. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you ride:
- Always obey the law. Even if you don’t agree with it. Traffic rules and laws exist to protect you and the people around you.
- Keep your lights on. The law requires you to use your headlights at night but using them during the day as well can help keep you safe. It’s one more thing that can help you be more visible to the vehicles around you.
- Wear reflective clothing. This is another tip that can help other drivers see you. Buy brightly colored or reflective clothing and wear it while you ride.
- Don’t be afraid to use your horn. While horns can be used aggressively, they can also be used to communicate with other motorists.
- Don’t sit in a driver’s blind spot. The car or truck driver may not know you’re nearby, so it’s best to stay where you are totally visible at all times. Just be sure to leave adequate following distance.
- Protect yourself. Helmets are required in Louisiana. Eye protection is required when you are on the highway, but not when you go off-road. It’s also a good idea to invest in long clothing designed to protect you in an accident.
- Never drive tired. It puts you and everyone around you at risk. If you can’t stay awake, stay off the road.
Top Causes of Cycling Accidents
Bicycling is generally safer than riding a motorcycle. In 2013, NHTSA statistics show that 48,000 cyclists were injured but only 743 were killed. Averages show that cyclists between the ages of 55 and 59 are most likely to die in a crash, while those aged 20-24 are most likely to be injured.
Many cyclists, road bikers and mountain bikers alike, prefer to ride on less traveled trails or roads. This is a major contributor to their increased safety over motorcycles.
Nevertheless, there are many circumstances that result in cycling accidents. Some of the most common situations that cause bicycling accidents are:
- Cyclists failing to look both ways for cars before riding into the street
- Drivers who don’t give cyclists enough room when passing them
- Cyclists turning in front of vehicles
- Drivers who speed and cannot slow down in time to avoid hitting a cyclist
- Cyclists who run red lights and stop signs
- Drivers who fail to check their blind spot for bikes
- Cyclists riding against the flow of traffic, instead of with it
- Drivers and cyclists both who drive/ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Tips for New Cyclists
If you’re a cyclist who plans on riding in the street, you should think of yourself as a car. All road bikers must adhere to the same rules as a vehicle. If mountain biking is more your thing, it’s a good idea to read up on trail etiquette.
The following tips can help new cyclists get started as well:
- Don’t be a speed demon. Whether you’re on your own or with a group, go at your own pace. Riding too fast can make you lose your balance and crash.
- Invest in gear. Make sure your helmet is made of good materials and fits you well. You can also buy bike gloves and padded bike shorts to make your ride more comfortable. Avoid anything made of cotton since it absorbs moisture and causes chaffing.
- Learn basic bike maintenance. At the very, least you should know how to adjust your seat and tighten your brakes. It’s also important to know how to change a flat tire because that will happen.
- Do a pre-ride check every time. This is a quick and easy way to make sure your bike is safe to ride. Check the tire pressure, make sure your chain is well oiled, and do a brake test.
- Learn how to handle corners. New riders often think going around a corner is only about turning, but that’s not true on a bike. Learn how to shift your weight to help you corner more efficiently.
- Find the right seat height. You need to find a height that allows your legs to be fully extended when at the bottom of your pedal stroke but doesn’t make it hard to mount and dismount your bike.
- Learn how to drink. The longer rides you’re going on, the more you’ll need to stay hydrated. Practice taking your water bottle out of the holder while riding until you master the skill.
- Ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against it makes it hard for drivers to see you from certain angles.
General Bicycle Safety Tips
To accompany our tips for new riders, below are some tips that can help newbies and veteran cyclists alike. Remember these when you head out for your next ride:
- Act like a car. Obey all the same rules. That includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, signaling your turns, and riding in the road and not on the sidewalk.
- Stay visible. Wear reflective clothing at all times. Use a headlight and taillight when riding at night.
- Keep your hands on the handlebars. You might be able to ride with no hands, but it’s simply not safe, especially when you’re riding on the road.
- Leave the headphones at home. Riding with headphones makes it hard to hear what’s going on around you.
- Keep your eyes open. Whenever you turn or move around in your lane, look around first. Double check to be sure there’s no chance of a collision with a car or pedestrian.
- Watch out for potholes. Hitting one could make you fly over your handlebars and tumble into the street, putting you at risk to be run over. Keep your head up while you ride and look at the road ahead.
- Keep a finger on the brakes. If you need to brake suddenly, you’ll be ready.
- Stay off busy streets. Unless they’re the only way to get where you need to go, it’s best to stay on quieter streets.
- Keep an eye on parked cars. Someone could open a door to get out of the car and strike you. Parked cars may also pull out of their spots without looking for cyclists first.
The injury attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson L.L.C. hope you find these tips helpful and can use them to stay safe. We wish all of our motorcycling and bicycling friends a fun and safe summer!