Summer is here, and in Chicago that means that motorcycle riding season is in full swing. We only get a few months of perfect riding weather each year, and avid riders will be hitting the road regularly over the summer months to get as much time in the saddle as possible.
When riding in Chicago, motorcyclists must prioritize their own safety. Unfortunately, accidents involving other vehicles are common, and riders must do their best to minimize their risk of serious (or fatal) injuries. While accidents will sometimes be unavoidable, following some basic safety tips can significantly reduce motorcycle riders’ chances of being injured by negligent drivers.
So, what can you do to minimize your risk of injury while riding this summer? Here are 10 safety tips for motorcycle riders in Chicago:
No, Illinois law does not require you to wear a helmet. But, this does not mean that riding without one is a good idea. Although Illinois is one of three remaining states without a motorcycle helmet law, studies have shown that wearing a helmet is one of the best and most important ways to reduce your risk of injury in the event of a crash.
If you do not currently own a helmet, when you buy one, make sure to pick a helmet with a Snell Foundation or U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) certification. If you have had your motorcycle helmet for more than five years, it is time to buy a replacement.
As most riders know, ATGATT stands for “all the gear, all the time.” Whether you are headed out for a long weekend or you are simply commuting to work in downtown Chicago, gearing up will help reduce your risk of being injured in the event that you go down. Along with wearing a helmet, following ATGATT means wearing a motorcycle jacket and motorcycle-specific boots, gloves, and pants every time you ride. Most accidents occur within five miles of home, so it is important to gear up regardless of where your travels may take you.
Conducting a basic inspection before you hit the road can alert you to many potential issues that could increase your risk of being injured in a collision. It only takes a minute or two (at most), but it can save you a lifetime of consequences. Before you pull out of your driveway or parking lot, check your headlight, taillight, brake light, turn signals, tire pressure, oil level, controls, and chain lubrication to make sure everything is in order. If something seems wrong, don’t chance it. It isn’t worth it, and by staying safe you will ensure that you have another chance to ride.
These days, you can mount your smartphone on your handle bars and follow GPS directions just about anywhere. But, following GPS directions can also be distracting; and, if you do not know exactly where you are going, the need to make sudden turns and lane changes becomes much more likely. To avoid these issues, plan your route in advance, and take the time to study it if necessary. If you can keep your eyes on the road and avoid the need for sudden maneuvers, this will greatly reduce your risk of being injured due to another motorist’s recklessness or lack of attentiveness to their surroundings.
If you get lost or need to get reoriented, find a safe place to pull over. While this may cost you a few minutes, it could also save you from suddenly finding yourself in a dangerous situation.
When you are on the road, you cannot control what other motorists choose to do, but you can protect yourself from their mistakes in some cases. As a motorcycle rider, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of drunk, distracted, and inattentive driving. If you observe any of these behaviors while you are riding, leave plenty of buffer in front of you, and give the driver a wide berth if you need to pass:
Of course, as a motorcycle rider, you are bound to observe the rules of the road just like everyone else. This means obeying the speed limit, obeying all traffic signs and signals, using your signals before turning or changing lanes, and staying focused on the road at all times. Not only is this the law, but it is also one of the best ways to reduce your risk of injury – and to ensure that the other motorist will be held liable in the event of a collision.
When riding on public roads, it is important to always stay within your limits. Riding in traffic is not the time to work on increasing your cornering speed or to test your motorcycle’s ABS. If you are not yet comfortable riding in heavy congestion, time your rides for when less cars and trucks are likely to be on the road. If you are not comfortable riding in the rain, check the weather before you set off. When you are ready to test your limits, hire an instructor to teach you on a private track.
If you approach a vehicle that is maneuvering erratically, slow down. If the sky turns cloudy and you are not prepared to drive on wet roads, find a place to take a break. If you have any reason to be concerned for your safety while riding your motorcycle, always err on the side of caution – even if it means that you may be late arriving to your destination.
Aggressive driving is a common factor in motorcycle accidents and other vehicle collisions, especially in congested areas such as Chicago. If someone cuts you off, let it go. Do not try to get their attention, and do not “retaliate” by cutting them off at the next available opportunity. If someone tries to get your attention while you are riding your motorcycle, ignore them and stay focused on the road ahead.
In addition to watching out for dangerous drivers, it is important to watch out for roadway hazards as well. Hazards that present minimal dangers to four-wheeled vehicles can present significant accident risks for motorcyclists. When encountered unexpectedly, gravel, grooved surfaces, oil patches, potholes, and other roadway hazards can all cause motorcycle riders to suddenly and dangerously lose control.
In addition to knowing how to reduce your risk of injury while riding your motorcycle in Chicago, it is important to know what to do if you get injured as well. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in Chicago, you should:
At Malman Law, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of injured motorcycle riders in the Chicago area. If you have been injured in an accident, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights. To speak with one of our experienced Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers in confidence, call 888-625-6265 or request your free consultation online now.