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Have a Safe Spring on Your Motorcycles

We have had a short spring. Although spring officially began on March 20, the thermometer remained in winter mode. What happened to the April showers, green landscape, and blossoming flowers? And now, it seems like summer will begin!

For example, on April 9th, 2018, the Chicago Cubs opening day was postponed due to snow covering Wrigley Field. But two days later, sunshine and the 60s greeted the Chicagoland area.

Houses and cars could finally begin to turn the heat off and open the windows. Bikers uncover their motorcycles and hit the road. According to Statista’s 2016 survey, there are a total of 314,807 motorcycles registered and traveling on Illinois roads. While enjoying this weather with a fun, relaxing ride may seem like the most logical thing to do. But avoid having a motorcycle accident. Remember these important safety tips when hitting the road.

Tips for Motorcycle Riders

According to the Illinois State Police, there are 23 tips that motorcyclists should follow when riding on the road. All of the tips can be found at the Illinois State Police’s “Motorcycle Safety Tips,” but here are a few quick tips to remember!

  1. Before you ride it, get to know your bike.

    According to the Illinois State Police, the best place to get to know your bike is the garage. Prior to operating the bike, it is important to know the location of the clutch, brakes, and shifter. Even if your bike is not new but rather is being uncovered after the long winter, make sure that everything on the bike is operational prior to your first ride.

  1. Check your bike before each ride.

    Before taking off for each ride, make sure to check the “tires and wheels, controls, lights, oil, chassis, and side stand.” Doing this allows your bike to operate to highest capability, increase fuel mileage, and possibility prevent the likelihood of a crash.

  1. Be a defensive rider.

    Just as new drivers are taught to be defensive drivers, the Illinois State Police states that motorcyclists should be defensive riders. Being a defensive rider means that riders should act as though they are “invisible” given that many times drivers had a hard time seeing bikes. The Illinois State Police advise riders to:

  • “Never make a lane change or movement based on the assumption another driver will see you or because you have the right of way,
  • “Watch for other vehicles, particularly at intersections and other areas where traffic is merging,
  • “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Assume the car in front of you is going to pull out,
  • “Exercise extreme caution for a few seconds after the light has turned green; there will be last second red light runners,” and
  • “Continue to scan the road for potential hazards.”
  1. Always wear a helmet.

    As the Daily Herald best put it, “Since 1976, one of the greatest opportunities throughout the state has been the Illinois Department of Transportation’s free motorcycle rider training classes offered to all residents over the age of 16.” Take advantage of this by reaching out to local motorcycle organizations as well as colleges and universities. Many times, these places sponsor motorcycle safety classes.

Tips for Drivers


Though motorcyclists should be defensive riders and consider themselves “invisible,” this is never a fail-safe or excuse for drivers to not see motorcycles.

The American Association of Retired Persons, more commonly known as AARP, has compiled a list of tips for drivers sharing the road with motorcyclists.

  1. Never share a lane with a motorcycle. Just like cars, motorcycles have complete and total use of all traffic lanes. Therefore, a car and motorcycle should never share the same lane simply because the motorcycle is small enough too.
  1. The most frequent vehicle driver error. According to the AARP, the “failure to yield the right-of-way to a motorcyclist is the most frequent driver error in collisions involving a motorcycle and another vehicle.”
  1. Scan the roadway continually. A motorcycle is harder to see. But drivers should be constantly scanning the roadway. Remember to look in front, behind, and to the side to ensure safe travel.
  1. Be mindful of changing road conditions and weather patterns. Motorcycles tend to “accelerate, turn and stop more quickly than other vehicles.” Therefore, poor weather or road conditions can cause motorcyclist to tumble. Drivers should maintain a larger following distance than that used for following cars. The AARP advises that drivers increase their following distance to four or more seconds.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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