Motorcycles are a common mode of transportation in Hawaii. But riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, especially if other drivers fail to exercise caution around you. Follow these motorcycle riding safety tips to help you prepare for safe riding on Oahu.
Avoid Riding in Bad Weather
Inclement weather is highly hazardous to motorcycle riders. Unlike motorists enclosed in their vehicles, motorcyclists have no substantial protection from the elements. Avoid riding in rainy, windy, snowy, and icy conditions if possible.
If you must ride in inclement weather, wear a full-face helmet with a visor to protect yourself and adjust your speed to account for the lousy weather conditions. If you ride too fast on wet or slippery roads, your motorcycle could hydroplane and cause a terrible motorcycle accident. Remember, you cannot control other drivers who fail to drive with care in bad weather. But you can take every precaution to protect yourself from harm.
Always be prepared to change course if a driver makes an unexpected maneuver, such as a sudden lane change. By remaining vigilant, you can help ensure you have sufficient time and space to avoid a collision.
Also, scan the road ahead for possible hazards. Keep an eye out for motorists pulling out of a driveway or parking lot and drivers preparing to make a left turn across traffic. Be assertive and confident, but not aggressive or reckless.
Unfortunately, many motorists do not take notice of motorcyclists traveling nearby. Often, this is because motorcycles are significantly smaller and less visible than other automobiles. That’s why it is critical to make yourself as visible as possible.
Consider wearing brightly colored, reflective clothing, such as a bright yellow or orange vest. Perhaps more importantly, you should invest in a bright headlight to ensure that motorists can see you at night. You should also avoid riding in a motorist’s blind spots.
Wear a Helmet with a Visor
In Hawaii, drivers aged 18 and older are not technically required to wear a helmet, but that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. A helmet is perhaps the most critical piece of safety gear a motorcyclist should have.
If you are thrown from your motorcycle in an accident, helmets can protect you from sustaining life-threatening traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs can range from concussions to catastrophic trauma that requires emergency care.
All motorcyclists under the age of 18 are required by Hawaii state law to wear a helmet with a chin strap.
Wear the Proper Safety Gear
In addition to a Department of Transportation approved helmet, always wear the proper safety gear. You should wear goggles or a helmet with a visor, riding pants, sturdy footwear, gloves, and a motorcycle jacket. Wearing a leather or pleather jacket can help prevent sliding across pavement if you get thrown from your motorcycle.
Wearing the appropriate safety gear may reduce your chances of sustaining injuries, including broken and fractured bones, head injuries, cuts, scrapes, and road rash. When a motorist crashes into a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist is usually directly impacted. Unlike occupants of vehicles, who enjoy safety features like airbags and seat belts, motorcyclists have very little protection from the force of a collision. For that reason, it is crucial to invest in the proper safety gear.
Keep Your Distance
Be wary of other motorists and leave extra space between your motorcycle and other vehicles. Drivers may not notice you due to distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigue, failure to check blind spots, reckless driving, and other negligent actions. Keep your distance to give you time to react appropriately if the traffic situation suddenly changes.
Avoid Lane Sharing
You should avoid lane sharing if possible. Lane sharing occurs when two motorcyclists drive side-by-side in the same lane. Although lane sharing is not against the law, it can be dangerous. If you suddenly encounter a safety hazard such as a pothole, you won’t be able to maneuver your bike around the obstacle without crashing into the other motorcyclist. It’s best to ride in a staggered formation.
Never Drive While Impaired
Driving while drunk or on drugs, including some prescription medications that cause sedation, is dangerous. Intoxicated motorcyclists may experience:
- Delayed reaction time – If you are impaired and come upon a road hazard, you may not be able to react in time to prevent a collision.
- Inability to focus – Concentration is affected directly by intoxication. If you are drunk or on drugs, you may not be able to focus on driving correctly.
- Impaired judgment – Alcohol and drugs may cause you to make bad judgment calls that put other motorists in danger.
Don’t Get Distracted
Always devote your full attention to operating your motorcycle. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of traffic-related accidents. Although it is less common among motorcyclists than other drivers, motorcyclists can still get distracted. Don’t text, use navigation equipment, or take your eyes off the road for an extended period.
Get Enough Sleep
Never operate your motorcycle while tired. Fatigue impairs your ability to assess traffic situations and can cause delayed reaction time. Ensure that you are well-rested before you hop on your bike.