As a group, motorcyclists are considered vulnerable road users. Every year for the past five years there have been at least 175 motorcyclist fatalities in Canada, according to the latest Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics. Motorcyclists make up at least 8.4 percent of annual motor vehicle fatalities.
More than 647,000 registered motorcycles registered in Canada, which means that there are high numbers of motorcyclists at risk. The majority of motorcyclists follow the law and there are a few who are careless. Safety is a priority for everyone and protecting yourself can help mitigate accident risks.
Before getting out on the road for the season, there are a number of measures you can take to reduce the risks of motorcycle accidents and injuries. For starters, you should check to ensure that your motorcycle is in good working condition and has been serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s vehicle service manual recommendations. You are also required to go around fully and visually inspect the vehicle 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.
You may find it useful to review basic rules from the official motorcycle handbook. It never hurts to go over the traffic rules and defensive driving techniques, including tips on visibility, communicating with other drivers, keep space around you, and positioning. A review of the section on emergencies may be particularly valuable as any type of emergency could come up that you have forgot about or haven’t experienced before, including sudden braking and steering, how to readdress taking a turn too fast, and what to do in a wobble, if a chain breaks, if your engine seizes, and how to best get off the road. If you have little experience or have not driven for quite some time, you may it helpful to review the section on dealing with particular situations, such as driving on dangerous surfaces, grooves, gratings, scraped roads, driving at night and in adverse weather conditions such as rain, fog, and cold weather, driving in a group, and carrying passengers. If you don’t have a copy of the motorcycle’s handbook, you may find one where maps are available for sale, including in your local pharmacy and grocery store.
In order to stay connected with safety rules, you could take or teach a refresher or new motorcycle safety course, hire an instructor for a review, or go out on your bike with another motorcyclist for the two of you to review each other’s driving. Travelling with another motorcyclist also offers greater visibility.
You should always protect your head and neck when you ride by wearing an approved helmet. A full-face helmet offers the best protection and adds the most comfort as well when driving by reducing the noise of the road and keeping the wind, bugs and other debris from blowing in your face. 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. Many riders have survived collisions because of wearing a helmet, even for short rides. Wearing ear plugs inside the helmet if your motorcycle engine is loud can further protect your hearing and your ear drums that could burst in an accident.
It is a good idea to make it habit to wear protective gear when you drive a motorcycle or are a passenger. Protective clothing can prevent or lessen an injury if you fall or have a collision, and it can protect you from the elements, such as wind, rain, insects, stones, debris and the cold. Wearing a long-sleeve snug jacket and long pants is recommended even in the summer as you could fall anytime and suffer road rash. Layered clothing and rain suits are recommended for long drives. Knee and elbow pads may be worn to protect against severe damage, though they are uncommon. Boots that are sturdy, flat, and high enough to protect your ankles are recommended instead of shoes or boots with rings, laces or heels that could catch on the motorcycle’s controls. Leather gloves are also recommended at all times as they give you a better hold on the hand-grips and controls and protect your hands if you fall. Your protective clothing is strongest when it is made from leather and it can be bright and/or reflective for added visibility.
Common sense is also required each time you get on a motorcycle. Driving sleepy or fatigued is not recommended as you could fall asleep, which risks your own life and the lives of others too. It is also the law to avoid drugs (including prescriptions drugs that can make you drowsy) and alcohol before driving. You might want to plan another mode of transportation if you are heading to a function where alcohol will be served. It is also wise not to drive when you are sick, injured, upset or angry. Strong emotions can reduce your ability to think and react quickly. Driving a motorcycle is a responsibility that requires much concentration and skill as it involves using both hands and feet simultaneously while balancing on two wheels.
By taking the precautions mentioned here, you help to protect your future as a motorcyclist. Motorcycle accidents are a threat to any driver, and should be avoided. At CLG Injury Law we protect your legal interests if you have been involved in a motorcycle accident. We offer legal services as insurance claim lawyers in Saint-Johns, Moncton, Fredericton, Charlottetown, and Halifax.