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Cruise the Open Road

MotorcycleAs summer continues to make its presence felt, motorcyclists are taking full advantage of warm temperatures and riding the open road. Although these fast toys can be exhilarating and economical, riders are 30 times more likely to be killed in a crash than people in a car, according to Consumer Reports.

Last year, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center admitted for inpatient treatment a total of 247 motorcyclists involved in a crash and has admitted 54 so far this year—making up, on average, seven percent of all admitted trauma cases at Wake Forest Baptist.

Most motorcycle accidents happen on rides less than five miles long in daylight shortly after someone has started out on a trip at speeds slower than 30 mph, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

“The key to optimizing your safety odds on a motorcycle is to be prepared, evade avoidable risks and drive smart,” said Shawn Griffin, R.N., B.S.N, Trauma/Burn Outreach Coordinator, at Wake Forest Baptist. “We live in this age of widespread phone use and texting behind the wheel, which really puts motorcyclists at an even more elevated risk. It’s critical for riders to anticipate what can happen next with vehicles and be smart with their own actions.”

Griffin and the NCDOT offer the below tips on how to minimize the risks of a motorcycle accident:

Know Responsibilities

  • Always burn the headlight—use high beam during the day and low beam at night and in cloudy weather.
  • Maintain an adequate safe distance when following, being followed, lane sharing, passing and being passed by other vehicles.
  • Scan a path of travel that is 12 seconds ahead of your direction of travel.
  • Know proper crash-avoidance skills and be prepared to act on them.
  • Use proper turn and brake signals and ride in the best lane position to be seen and to see other traffic.

Wear Protective Gear

  • Always wear a compliant safety helmet that has the symbol "DOT" on the back. Helmets should fit snugly all the way around and have no obvious defects such as cracks, loose padding or frayed straps.
  • A plastic shatter-resistant face shield can protect against debris and help protect the entire face in a crash.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase chances of being seen.
  • Jackets and pants provide the best protection for the body and should snugly cover arms and legs completely. Certain jackets are designed to protect without overheating.
  • Boots or shoes should be high enough to cover ankles and sturdy enough to offer support with laces tucked in so they won’t catch on the motorcycle.
  • Gloves allow a better grip and help protect hands in a crash—and should be made of leather or similar durable material.

“I also like to stress that motorcyclists should never rely on making ‘eye contact’ with a driver as a sign they will yield,” said Griffin. “Drivers often look right at a motorcyclist and still fail to ‘see’ them. Motorcyclists must rely on their own eyes and always anticipate that a car may not see them.”

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Last Updated: 06-27-2017
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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