It is August and the heat is peaking all around the country. As I type this, the annual 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota is well underway and if that doesn’t scream “motorcycle season” I don’t know what does!
While I find myself excited for all the fun summer offers (check out the events page at Rider Justice), I would be remiss if I didn’t also bring up safety. I’m hoping both motorcyclists and auto drivers alike will be on the lookout for each other. But before I get into my summer “get-ready-to-ride” checklist, I want to answer a question that I recently received from a rider buddy. He and I were chatting at Dirty Dogs Roadhouse during one of our recent events, and I thought I should address it in an article.
Where Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
I often get asked about the most dangerous intersections in Denver. However, when analyzing where most motorcycle accidents happen, I have to say that it’s very similar to where most auto accidents occur: intersections. And the number-one cause of motorcycle accidents is left-hand turns in front of oncoming traffic.
Now, I do not mean that motorcyclists always pull in front of cars. In fact, all too often, cars underestimate how fast motorcycles are traveling and pull out in front of them when taking a left-hand turn. Or, auto drivers maintain that they never saw the motorcycle coming. Of course, in both of these types of accidents, the auto driver is at fault. But that does little to soothe the victims or the victims’ families, whose lives may have been completely ruined.
Just as you learned in driver’s ed, you have to ride defensively and imagine that, basically, no one can see you. When you are approaching an intersection, use caution.
Another place where most motorcycle accidents occur in Colorado is on highways and open roads. This is because of the high speeds. Motorcyclists get a bad rap for being speed demons (and we’ve all seen the riders who give us this reputation), but most of the riders I know are responsible and law-abiding. However, even when a motorcyclist is traveling at the speed limit, highway speeds are very high and crashes at those speeds are generally tragic for motorcyclists.
As Mike Douglass of the Aurora Police Department said in a recent Westword article:
“When you have highways or roadways that allow for higher speeds, a car does a better job of protecting people. You have seat belts, closed passenger compartments and a lot more body and weight to help protect the occupants. And with motorcyclists, you can have the unintended consequence of the rider coming off the bike.”
So, the two places that motorcycle accidents occur the most are intersections and highways. Please be vigilant and ride defensively anywhere you ride, but especially when approaching an intersection or on a highway.
Get Ready to Ride Your Motorcycle
OK, now that the tough stuff is out of the way, let’s focus on the fun stuff: getting your bike out for the warm weather! I want to remind you to do one thing that is super important before you even ride around the block: if you turn your motorcycle insurance off over the winter to save money, turn your motorcycle insurance back on.
All too often, I meet injured riders who “just took it out for a spin” on a warm day and didn’t switch their insurance on. They are left with huge medical bills and sometimes can’t even work due to injuries.
What about the other guy’s insurance, you ask? Very often, the “other guy” doesn’t have insurance or is underinsured. You have to protect yourself.
If you are currently carrying “full coverage” and are thinking to yourself, “I’m good – that covers everything,” brace yourself, friend. Full coverage is an industry term that means the state minimum. It means nothing even close to covering you fully.
Rider Up! Share This Video on Your Social Media Channels
Finally, let’s make sure the rest of the world is ready to SEE us and PROTECT us! In 2019, Rider Justice launched a campaign that we call Rider Up! It’s a game that challenges car passengers to be the first to spot a motorcyclist and yell its location in relation to the car. “Rider LEFT! Rider RIGHT! Rider BACK! Rider UP!” The player who spots and yells first is the winner. The goal is to have auto passengers help drivers locate nearby bikers, and to also train future drivers to look for and see motorcyclists on the road.
We created a fun – SHARABLE – video for the game. We always push for motorcycle awareness in May for Motorcycle Awareness Month, but motorcycle engines are revving all year long. There’s never a bad time to reinforce motorcycle safety among riders and awareness among cagers.