Four safety tips for motorcycle riders in Illinois

Some motorcycle accidents in Illinois and elsewhere are unavoidable, but there are several things bikers can do that may help improve their safety.

Perhaps the most vulnerable vehicles on the roads, motorcycles are all too often involved in collisions with larger automobiles. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 3,408 motorcycle accidents across the state in 2014 alone. Unfortunately, the motorcyclists in many of these crashes suffered serious injuries or death. While not all wrecks involving motorcycles can be prevented, there are things people can do that may help improve their safety when they are riding.

Perform a safety inspection before riding

Before revving up and hitting the road, motorcycle riders should always perform pre-ride safety inspections. This includes checking their hand and foot brakes, signal indicators and headlights, fluid levels, and tire pressure and tread depth. Ensuring everything is in working condition prior to setting out may help motorcyclists avoid issues on the road that may contribute to potentially serious accidents.

Do not drink and ride

The same effects of alcohol that make it unsafe for people to drive after drinking also make it hazardous for them to ride after consuming alcoholic beverages. In addition to slowing their reaction time and impairing their coordination, alcohol may adversely affect motorcyclists' ability to balance their bikes, shift gears and control their throttles. Thus, it may be particularly important for people to refrain from riding if they have been drinking.

Drive defensively

A piece of advice often given to motorcyclists is to assume they cannot be seen. Due to their small size in relation to the other vehicles on the road, motorcycles and their riders are often lost in the blind spots of larger cars and trucks. Using extra caution when riding and taking care to watch closely the signals and brake lights of the other vehicles on the road may help bikers avoid being unnecessarily struck by another automobile. Riders may find it helps to increase their visibility by using their motorcycles' headlights during the day and at night and by applying reflective materials to their bikes.

Wear protective gear

In the event of a motorcycle accident, essentially the only protection riders have is the clothing and gear they are wearing. Therefore, it is essential that they dress for safety, keeping their arms and legs completely covered. It is best if they wear heavy denim or leather. Motorcycle riders should always wear close-toed shoes or boots that cover their ankles, as well as gloves and protective eyewear. Additionally, wearing a helmet anytime they ride may help protect motorcyclists from head trauma and other serious injuries should they be involved in a crash that causes them to be thrown from their vehicles.

Working with a lawyer

With no seat belts or vehicle exteriors to protect them, motorcycle riders may suffer serious injuries as a result of collisions in Illinois and elsewhere. Often requiring medical treatment and time off work to recover, such injuries often lead to undue medical expenses and lost wages. In cases when other drivers are responsible for causing motorcycle accidents, however, they may be held financially liable for the resulting losses. Therefore, people who have been injured in crashes while riding their motorcycles may benefit from seeking legal counsel. An attorney may help them understand their rights and explain their options for pursuing compensation.