Preparing to Ride a Motorcycle in New York State

If you are one of the 241,000 New Yorkers who rides a motorcycle on the roadways of this state, you probably know that riding a motorcycle can sometimes be more physically and mentally demanding than driving a car. The stakes can be higher when your body is directly exposed to roadway hazards and not surrounded by the steel body of a car.

There is a reason New York residents require a special license to ride: safe operation requires special knowledge and skill. It also requires special preparation.

According to a motorcycle manual produced by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (the DMV),  before going out for a ride, the rider must remember to wear the appropriate motorcycle safety gear, become familiar with the motorcycle, perform an inspection on motorcycle equipment, and practice safe riding. Before going out for a ride, motorcycle riders will want to consider all applicable laws and regulations, and the motorcycle manual produced by the DMV is a good starting point.

Wear the Right Motorcycle Safety Gear

When it comes to a motorcyclist’s protection wearing the right motorcycle safety gear, the DMV explains that gear is right when it protects both the rider and passenger. When it comes to helmet use, according to the DMV, “one out of every five motorcycle crashes result in head or neck injuries,” which account for a majority of serious and fatal injuries to motorcyclists.

Selecting a Motorcycle Helmet

Motorcycle accident statistics are sobering: The majority of motorcycle crashes happen on short trips, just a few minutes in and most riders are going slower than 30 mph at the moment of impact. At this speed, motorcycle helmets can be very effective in reducing the severity of head injuries.

When selecting a motorcycle helmet, there are two main types of helmets that provide two different levels of coverage: three-quarter helmets and full face helmets. Motorcyclists can receive the most protection by choosing a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and state standards. A motorcycle helmet should have a snug fit, with no obvious defects. Protective eyewear, such as googles or safety glasses, and face protection, such as a bandanna or scarf, will also offer some protection from wind, weather, and road debris.

Protective Clothing and Footwear

Motorcycle riders and even their passengers may want to consider wearing proper protective clothing before going out for a ride. The DMV cautions that the right clothing can protect both riders and their passengers in a motorcycle accident, the DMV’s recommendations include:

  • Jackets and pants should cover arms and legs completely, and that while leather offers perhaps the most protection, sturdy synthetic material can also provide protection.
  • For footwear, select shoes or boots that are sturdy and high enough to cover your ankles. The soles of the footwear should be made of a hard, durable slip-resistant material. Choose boots or shoes with a low heel so it will not catch on rough surfaces.
  • The DMV also advises as to the use of glove composed of leather or similar durable materials—because they allow a better grip, especially during cold or wet weather conditions, and help protect the motorcyclists’ hands in a crash.

Learn How to Operate Your Bike

When it comes to safely riding a motorcycle, it helps to know the vehicle you are operating. It is for this reason the DMV instructs riders to “Know Your Motorcycle,” which entails: reviewing the owner manual, starting with the right motorcycle for you; being familiar with motorcycle controls; inspecting the motorcycle before every ride; keeping your bike in good condition between rides; and avoiding modifications that make your motorcycle more difficult to handle. The DMV issues a special warning for those who tend to use unfamiliar vehicles; that is, those who borrow and lend motorcycles.

Perform a Motorcycle Inspection Before You Ride

Regardless of whether or not the motorcycle is familiar or unfamiliar to the rider, a motorcycle needs to be inspected on a regular basis as opposed to a car. If something goes wrong with a motorcycle, you will want to find and fix the problem before entering traffic. Before getting on the road, the DMV suggests performing the following inspections:

  • Check tire pressure, general wear, and tire tread.
  • Monitor oil and fluid levels. Check hydraulic fluids and coolants weekly or daily, if possible. Inspect under the motorcycle for signs of an oil or gas leak.
  • Make sure the headlights, taillight, brake light, and signal indicators are working and visible.

Once you have mounted the motorcycle, take a couple additional minutes to complete these checks before entering traffic:

  • Make sure the clutch and throttle work smoothly.
  • Clean and adjust both mirrors so you are able to see the lane behind and next to you.
  • Test out the front and rear brake levers separately, ensuring they feel firm and will hold the motorcycle when the brake is applied.
  • Lastly, sound the horn to make sure it works.

In addition to these checks, the following items should be inspected at least once a week:  wheels, cables, fasteners and fluids. Follow your owner manual to get specific recommendations.

Hurt Riding a Motorcycle? Call William Mattar.

At William Mattar law offices, our motorcycle accident attorneys know that accidents can happen regardless of how prepared a motorcyclist is. If you need legal help after your motorcycle crash, contact us today at 844-444-4444.