Riding a motorcycle is a gamble. It's a very dangerous mode of transportation. While it's not all up to you -- other drivers can make mistakes that put you in the hospital -- it is very important to know what you can do to reduce your own risks.
That's not to say that there aren't advantages to a motorcycle. It's cheaper than a car. It's better for the environment. It gives you that thrill and freedom of the open road.
Motorcycles can be great. There's a reason you love them, and you should. But you should also know what the risks look like and how to keep yourself safe. These potentially life-saving tips can help:
1. Avoid black, brown and gray
These three colors enjoy immense popularity with motorcycle riders. A lot of people wear black jackets, ride black bikes and wear black helmets. However, these dark colors blend right into the road and make you invisible. You really want to pick things like yellow, orange and red. Do what you can to stand out and become as visible as possible to the other drivers on the road.
2. Trust those with whom you ride
Riding in a group enhances the experience for many people, making it a social activity. That's fine, but make sure you trust the people on the bikes around you. Limit how much exposure you have to riders you don't know. Remember that the riders who spend the most time around you have the greatest chance of making mistakes and causing accidents that involve you.
3. Stay off your bike when you feel tired
This should really be a rule in the car, too, but many people try to push it. Don't give in to this temptation. If you feel exhausted, know your limits. Know when to stop. Only ride when you feel alert and refreshed.
4. Stay 20 feet from other vehicles
Give yourself a cushion so that you have enough stopping distance in an emergency. Twenty feet is a loose estimate; consider every situation carefully. By the same token, keep an eye on the cars around you. If someone tailgates you and doesn't give you that cushion, let them pass. It's not worth the risk.
5. Plan how you'll avoid a crash
You always want to think about crash avoidance and escape routes. Have a plan. Stay alert, keep your eyes on the traffic around you and look for hazards well in advance. This way, you can take action quickly if a crash seems likely.
These tips do help, but you can't avoid accidents in all situations. Other drivers are the wildcard. If they injure you, be sure you know your legal rights in Pennsylvania.