Staying Safe on Your Motorcycle

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Motorcycle Safety

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.

For bikers, safety should begin before even starting the engine. That means selecting the right bike, choosing the best gear, and understanding the unique regulations governing Michigan riders.

Attorney David Christensen began riding when he was eleven years old, and 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 bike while minimizing risks of a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle Riders Are at Greater Risk for Severe and Fatal Injuries

According to recent studies published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 people die in motorcycle accidents each year. Although motorcycle riders account for only 3.5% of all licensed drivers, motorcycle accidents make up 14% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents.

Unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles do not protect the rider from impact. Even experienced riders can suffer extensive, catastrophic injuries when struck by an inattentive driver. Due to their low profiles, motorcycles are easier to overlook and often go undetected by crash-avoidance technology.

Data from the NHTSA indicates that many motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, often because the other vehicle was turning left.

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:

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. Motorcycle riders 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.

While Michigan law requires personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for motorists, motorcyclists are typically excluded unless the crash involves a motor vehicle such as a car or truck and the motorcyclist carries PIP insurance for their own motor vehicle. A motorcycle accident attorney in Michigan can help you understand which insurance policies cover your accident, and how best to proceed with a claim.

Ways to Prevent a Motorcycle Crash

In 2022, the NHTSA found that over 6,200 motorcyclists died in traffic crashes, and over 82,600 were injured. Not every accident is avoidable, but you can take steps to prevent a collision and keep yourself safe as a motorcyclist in Michigan.

  • 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. Ensure your brake lights, turn signals, and headlights are fully functional and operating, especially during inclement weather.
  • Wear a helmet. Although not required by law in Michigan for most riders, helmets are essential safety tools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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. Reaction time is critical for safe motorcycle operation, and it can be severely compromised by alcohol consumption.
  • 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, including speed limit, traffic signals, and right-of-way 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. Even the most experienced motorcyclist can fall victim to someone else’s negligence. 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 today for a free consultation with a proven Michigan motorcycle accident attorney.