Spring motorcycle safety in western Washington
With the seasons changing here in Washington state we are beginning to go through the all to familiar transition from our gloomy, wet and cold winter into our much nicer more sunny spring and summer. With our excellent weather over these next few months comes the opportunity to engage in more of the outdoor activities we have missed all fall and winter. As we inch closer to the days when we break out our boats, motorcycles, ATV’s and other recreational vehicles we want to take the time to ensure that all of our clients take a moment and think about the safe practices that come with operating each of these vehicles. So we will be posting a series of blog posts with some safety tips and reminders regarding each over the next few months! Today we start with motorcycles!
Undoubtably Washington state offers some of the best, most scenic highways to cruise in the country. Between the long stretches of road in the eastern part of the state to the forrest and mountains in western Washington to the coast, beaches and rainforest of Washington states Olympic peninsula and pacific coast. It’s hard to find a single state in America that can offer quite as many options for a day cruise or weeks of hitting the open road. But what’s most important to remember before you ever set out is your and your loved ones safety. Below are some things to remember before you ever set out for your season of cruising. Also remember to ensure you and your motorcycle are covered! If you’re not, or not sure if your coverage is adequate we can help you with that too!
Before you head out
Take a motorcycle safety course - No harm has ever come from more knowledge or information before you set out to do something. Maybe you’re just getting into riding, or maybe you’ve been doing it for a lifetime and simply haven’t seen the up to date materials that are included in current motorcycle safety courses. Point is no matter your situation it can’t hurt to brush up on the latest Washington state rules and regulations regarding motorcycle safety and the rules of the road before you spend your spring and summer months out cruising. Lastly these courses will remind you of some of the unpredictable situations that may arise when on your bike and how you can be adequately prepared for them in advance. A small time investment is always worth the added safety and feeling of preparedness that you gain from it.
2. Make sure you gear is up to code and fitted appropriately - Its common sense that riding a motorcycle un prepared can be dangerous. However no matter how much preparation you put into something accidents outside your control can always happen. Your best defense in these situations is to ensure all your gear (especially your law mandated helmet) meet Washington state code and beyond that are in overall good shape and will serve their intended purpose. Rules and regulations regarding safety equipment change all the time and how those changes are debated and eventually decided upon is a topic for an entirely different blog. But what is a universal truth about these rules and regulations is that they are put in place to ensure that you, the rider, is as protected as possible. So ensuring that your gear is not only in good shape but up to current regulatory standards is your best defense once your preparation and good defensive driving practices go out the window.
3. Make sure everything on your bike is in proper working order - Again this seems like a no brainer but its honestly very easy to get caught up in the moment or simply be excited to get out of the house that day and overlook that your motorcycle has possibly been siting inside the entire cold Washington state winter. While it’s been hiding in the garage it’s entirely possible that some of the things that worked great last season may not be working, moving, activating the way they used to. Here is brief list of things to check (especially if you are pulling a bike out of winter storage) before you ride!
Tires- Check your tires for cracks, bulges or other signs of weathering that may have occurred during the previous season and its time in storage. Not being aware ahead of time could cause you to suffer a blow out. Obviously outside the danger involved here being on top of this before it occurs will save you a load of money.
Under your bike- Check the under side of your bike for any leaks or abnormalities. Not just on the floor underneath. While most the time you can ascertain whether or not you have a leak of gas or oil by looking at the floor, in the case of some slow leaks it may be accumulating on the underside of the bike and not be immediately recognizable.
Lights- Headlamp, Tail & Break lamp as well as turn signals should be checked. It’s easy to forget to check these things and while some of them can be covered by using your hand signals in an emergency (do you know them? If not perhaps the classes mentioned above are of interest to you) you really probably overlook the importance of your headlamp till your out after dark with it not working! So check your lights before you set out!
Fluids- Again this is much more important if your bike has been sitting all winter but you should remember to check your oil, transmission fluid and coolant. It also may be a good idea to make sure the gas is alright after it has been sitting all season.
Mirrors- Make sure your mirrors are adjusted to give you the best visibility when you ride. That way you are aware of all the hazards in your area.
Breaks- Before you set out for a long ride give your breaks a quick test in the drive way or in front of the house. Again this is especially important if the bike has been sitting all season. You will want to take not of any irregularities you may experience in the way your breaks engage, if present.
Horn- BEEP BEEP, make sure it works. You never know when you might need to remind Mr.ImOnmyPhone that you are in his blind spot before he quickly changes lanes without looking.
Clutch and Throttle- Make sure both are in full working order and running smoothly. Your throttle should quickly snap back into place when released.
Now that you have made it on your bike and are out in the sun cruising around the beautiful Washington state summer lets remember a few important things while you ride
4. Do not speed, follow traffic rules and use your signals - While this may seem like common sense it’s important to remember that most accidents are caused when one or all of these things occur. Roughly 48% of motorcycle deaths occur when speed over the specified speed limit are involved. So remember to follow traffic rules and regulations, do not speed and most importantly practice safe defensive driving practices.
5. Make yourself visible - 75% of motorcycle accidents occur when the driver “was not visible” That is a huge number of accidents involving motorcycles. So take a few steps to insure you are as noticeable as possible especially on western Washingtons busy freeways. Wear bright or reflective riding gear, Do not drive in peoples blind spots (we all know where they are), Keep your headlights on at all times. Even during the day, Always use turn signals or hand signals whenever changing lanes or direction.
6. Don’t drive tired or intoxicated - Again this is self explanatory but id be remiss if I didn’t mention knowing our own limits. Summer is a time for fun and we often find ourselves in situations that we didn’t originally intend on getting ourselves into. Outdoor events, beach events or any other enticing summer activities that activate our inner fear of missing out. So if you are concerned that one of these events might happen while your out or not certain that you will be able to drive home responsibly simply don’t ride your motorcycle! Or leave it to be picked up tomorrow and use a ride share!
7. Follow at a safe distance and be aware of road hazards - Giving yourself enough distance is about more than just being able to stop quickly enough to avoid hitting the person in front of you (it is also about that as well though). What happens if you’re following a car with high clearance and before you know it some sort of large object comes popping out from under it and your right on their tail? Chances are you will be severely limited in your reaction time. So take a moment and realize when you’re riding that if your following to close not only is your stopping time limited but so its your avoidance reaction time.
8. Carry a first aid kit - You never know when you or a passenger might need it! Even for non-motorcycle related things its always just great to have one on hand. Be prepared for whatever life may throw your way!
Remember ultimately your safety is up to you! We want all of our clients to be safe when riding. While the things listed above are things that only you can ensure are followed or implemented to make your riding as safe as possible we can make sure you are covered in the event that anything does happen! Do you need new coverage for a motorcycle or any other seasonal recreational vehicle you may own? Need both? Have questions about existing coverage? Get a quote or free existing policy review and we can get everything squared away, quickly and easily! Have a great, fun and safe spring and summer!