For many Michiganders, motorcycles aren’t just a mode of transportation. They’re a hobby, a passion, and a way of life. And while motorcycles may be the most fun you can have on two wheels, they can also be dangerous. According to the most current data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 motorcyclists died and another 84,000 were injured in a recent year.
For motorcyclists, safety should begin before even starting the engine. That means selecting the right bike, the best gear, and understanding the unique regulations governing Michigan riders.
Attorney David Christensen began riding when he was eleven years old. He wants everyone to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of a motorcycle ride. We’ve put together the following tips for staying safe on your motorcycle.
Michigan Safety Rules for Motorcycles
Michigan has numerous safety rules designed to reduce motorcycle accidents and keep bikers safe. However, Michigan does not all require motorcyclists to wear helmets while operating their vehicles.
Operators who are at least 21 years old, have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits, and have passed an approved motorcycle safety course do not need to wear a helmet. The same is true for passengers.
However, riders and operators under 21 must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved motorcycle helmet in Michigan. Here are some tips for finding the right motorcycle helmet for you.
While helmets may be optional in some situations, other safety gear is not. Michigan motorcyclists must have shatterproof safety goggles, a face shield, or a windshield that can protect their eyes. Additional Michigan safety requirements state that:
- Handlebars must be positioned no more than 15 inches between the lower point of the seat and the highest point of the handle grips.
- A motorcycle must have a regular, permanently attached seat.
- Motorcycles with engines smaller than 125 ccs are prohibited from traveling on freeways.
- Lane splitting is illegal.
Requirements for Motorcyclists in Michigan
First and foremost, Michigan requires that all motorcycle operators have a valid Michigan driver’s license with the CY motorcycle endorsement. Operating a motorcycle without this endorsement is dangerous and could result in court fines. Those under the age of 18 need to pass an approved motorcycle safety course to obtain this endorsement. Individuals who fail the examination two or more times must also pass an approved safety class.
Motorcyclists in Michigan must also have liability insurance to cover them if they cause an accident that injures someone else. Liability coverage kicks in to cover bodily injuries and death after a crash.
Ways to Prevent a Motorcycle Crash
NHTSA recently found that motorcyclists are about 29 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of passenger vehicles. Not every accident is avoidable. But taking steps to prevent a collision is the best way to keep yourself safe as a motorcyclist in Michigan.
Follow this safety advice:
- Choose the right gear. It may be uncomfortable to wear full protective gear on a hot summer day, but it provides much more protection than a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Operators should opt for leather or thick protective materials, safety goggles, and durable boots. Hitting the pavement, even at low speeds, can rip skin to the bone.
- Make yourself visible. Drivers often say they hit a motorcyclist because they couldn’t see them or didn’t notice them until it was too late. Bright colors or reflective gear can help riders stand out. Driving with your lights on can also increase visibility.
- Wear a helmet. Although not required by law in Michigan for most riders, helmets are essential safety tools. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent and the risk of traumatic brain injuries by 69 percent.
- Don’t drink and drive. While it should go without saying that drinking and driving in any situation is dangerous behavior, it bears repeating. According to NHTSA, intoxication was a factor in almost 30 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes in a recent year.
- Take a safety course. It never hurts to take a motorcycle safety course, even if it isn’t required or you already passed the Michigan motorcycle driver’s license endorsement examination. It keeps your skills sharp and can help introduce you to some fantastic riding partners.
- Stay alert. Unfortunately, not all motorists are looking out for you, so it’s important to look out for yourself and always remain alert. Stay out of other driver’s blind spots and use caution when making lane changes.
- Obey all traffic laws. As a motorcyclist, Michigan law grants you the same rights as all other drivers. That means you also have the same responsibility to follow all traffic laws. You can be held liable if negligent behavior, such as speeding, causes a motorcycle accident.
Motorcycle Riding Tips to Keep Motorcyclists Safe
Riding should be an enjoyable activity, and nothing shatters the relaxation of a leisurely ride like an accident. To get the most out of your experience, take some of these motorcycle riding safety tips to heart.
Before You Ride
- Purchase and wear safety gear, including a helmet.
- Inspect your bike before each ride.
- Pack a first-aid kit.
- Check local weather reports.
Group Riding Safety
- Agree on a route and destination ahead of time.
- Assign a group leader.
- Stay together and ride in a staggered formation.
- Ride with people you know and trust.
- Keep a safe distance from other riders and motorists.
- Use hand signals to communicate.
- Keep the group to a manageable size.
- Take rest breaks.
Call a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Assistance
Unfortunately, the best preparation still cannot guarantee a motorcyclist’s safety. If you are hurt in a motorcycle crash in Michigan, get help from an experienced attorney from Christensen Law.
At Christensen Law, you’ll always know where your claim stands and what we are doing to fight for the money that you deserve. Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a proven Michigan motorcycle accident attorney.