Even as summer has come to a close, motorcycles are still all over the roads of North Carolina. The weather has cooled off just a bit, making it that much more enjoyable for this state’s nearly 200,000 registered bikers to hit the open roads. But, as more choppers flood the roads, motorcycle accidents become much more prevalent. While these aren’t always fatal, they do generally result in injury, as there’s not much protecting a rider from other vehicles — and the road itself.
North Carolina has taken measures to prevent some of the most serious injuries by requiring all riders to wear a helmet. However much protection helmets and other equipment provide, however, they do not prevent accidents from happening. Here are the most common causes of wrecks, caused by both other drivers and motorcyclists themselves, and how to prevent them.
1. Car Ahead Makes a Left Turn
Whether on your bike or in a car, few nuisances are more aggravating than the vehicle in front of you stopping to make a left turn. If you are traveling at a relatively high speed, you may not have time to slow down, and end up crashing into stopped car. You can blame any number of factors, but at the end of the day, the accident will almost always be considered your fault. To avoid this accident, always be attentive to your surroundings. On single-lane roads with many left-hand turns, leave plenty of room between yourself and the car ahead of you.
2. Loose Road Surface on a Curve
Imperfect surface conditions are especially prevalent on back roads. When the roads are winding, you may suddenly find yourself hitting a corner where you find gravel, sand, fallen leaves or any other obstacles. The moment you run into it, you lose control and wipe out. To avoid this kind of crash, remember: slow in, fast out. Don’t take turns so quickly that you can’t react to whatever is in the road. Your survival may depend on your reaction time. If you are going to go into turns at higher speeds, be sure to incorporate trail braking into your riding.
3. Coming into a Curve Too Hot
You’re enjoying time on your bike, speeding down the road and enjoying the fresh air. All the sudden a curve comes up in the road. You try to slow down, but it’s not enough; you wipe out. This is one of the easiest accidents to prevent. You should never ride faster than your reaction time. Even if you are on a highway or on a road you have traveled a thousand times, conditions can change in an instant. If you are in this situation, don’t slam on the brakes, which can cause you to flip. Instead, use trail braking and other techniques to safely slow down and maintain control.
4. Sudden Lane Changes
Highway traffic is usually a mess. Drivers are weaving in and out of lanes, trying to get to their destination seconds earlier than the cars in front of them. While this is often little more than an aggravation for car drivers, motorcyclists are potentially in danger on the highway. If you are on the highway or any multi-lane road, watch out for cars suddenly changing lanes. Stay out of blind spots, and look for signs like turning signals and wheels turning to avoid being collided with. If one lane is moving faster, be careful if you are driving in it, as that’s where other drivers will try to be as well.
5. Being Rear-Ended
Whether you are stopped at a traffic light or a deer ran in front of you, causing you to suddenly stop, there is always the chance of you being rear-ended. Unlike other causes of wrecks on this list, there simply aren’t many things you can do to prevent this from happening, since you usually aren’t at fault. However, there are a few preventative steps you can take. If you can, stop in front of another car is that already slowing down. It allows you to have a buffer if someone comes speeding along behind you. If you can’t, pull over to the side of the lane; don’t stop in the center. Be prepared to move if danger approaches.
6. Taking Unnecessary Risks
If you can avoid it, don’t ride during foul weather. It’s not always avoidable; rain and storms can pop up at any time. If you have decent brakes and good tires, you can make it through. However, if it is raining when you leave, simply find another way to get where you’re going. There is no need to purposefully going out on your bike when the roads are going to be slippery.
The number one cause of motorcycle wrecks is alcohol use. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about one third of all motorcycle accident fatalities involve a rider with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher. Though the most common, these accidents are also the easiest to prevent. If you’ve been driving, do not get on your motorcycle.
Every time you get on your bike, you take your life, and potentially the lives of those around you, into your own hands. By driving safely and avoiding reckless driving, you have enjoy many wonderful years atop your motorcycle.