Jul 5 2016 0

Key safety considerations for Oklahoma motorcyclists and their passengers

As motorcyclists are overrepresented in fatal traffic accidents, riders and their passengers can increase their safety with these few tips.

In early June of this year, a man was riding on his motorcycle through Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a female passenger on board. According to KTUL, an SUV was attempting to make a left-hand turn out of a parking lot when it struck the bike. The man and woman on the motorcycle suffered life-threatening injuries.

Local law enforcement noted that pending blood test results of the SUV driver and the motorcyclist, criminal charges could be filed. This unfortunate incident illustrates a number of safety concerns not only for motorcycle operators, but also their passengers.

Wear a helmet

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Oklahoma requires motorcycle operators who are younger than 18 to wear a helmet. However, there is overwhelming evidence that all motorcyclists should wear one.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that the number of motorcycle-related deaths was more than 26 times higher than car fatalities in 2013 per mile traveled. As head injuries are a frequent fatal injury among riders, experts recommend that all motorcyclists and their passengers wear helmets. Helmets have been found to be 67 percent effective in helping riders prevent brain injuries and 37 percent effective in preventing fatalities among motorcyclists, according to the IIHS.

Ride defensively

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that in roughly one-third of motorcycle crashes that involve multiple vehicles, the other vehicle turned into the path of the oncoming motorcycle. With that in mind, riders are encouraged to practice defensive driving through doing the following:

  • Remain alert to any surrounding traffic and potential obstacles in the road.
  • Increase visibility by always using headlights during low-light situations.
  • Anticipate a driver’s inability to see the motorcycle, especially when the vehicle is making a left-hand turn.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation also urges both new and veteran operators to take a training course. This provides an opportunity for riders to hone their handling skills and learn basic defensive driving skills.

Adjust handling while carrying a passenger

The MSF warns that having a passenger on board will greatly affect the way a bike turns and brakes due to the additional and shifting weight that the passenger adds. Operators should prepare to brake sooner than usual and ease into turns. Further, anytime the bike stops, operators should be aware that passengers could bump into them with either their helmets or their entire bodies.

Passengers should also take responsibility for their safety by wearing protective gear such as jackets, pants and boots. While the bike is in use, the passenger should always hold onto either the motorcycle’s hand-holds or the operator’s waist or hips. When getting off the bike, the passenger should always disembark first. Anyone who cannot reach the footrests is not advised to ride on a motorcycle as a passenger, according to the MSF.

Don’t drink and ride

Motorcyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as vehicle operators, including those related to drinking and driving. Under Oklahoma law, no driver may operate any vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

While there are many things motorcyclists in Oklahoma can do to lower their risk of getting into an accident, they cannot control the actions of a negligent motorist. Anyone who has questions about negligent motorcycle accidents should consult with an attorney.

Keywords: motorcycle, accident, injury

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