Motorcycle, car safety

It’s motorcycle season. Stay safe in the saddle

There are more motorcycles on the road than ever before — 8.8 million in 2023, which is more than double the number registered in 2002. Unfortunately, more motorcycles means more injured motorcycle riders. 

According to the National Safety Council, In 2021, the most recent year for which figures are available, 83,000 motorcyclists were injured; nearly 6,000 of those injuries were fatal. That’s an accident-rate increase of 5 percent from the 2020, and a fatality rate increase of nearly 8 percent. And although motorcycles make up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles and 0.6 percent of vehicle miles traveled in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities. 

Clearly, anyone planning on having a motorcycling adventure needs to put some thought into how they’re going to stay safe. If you’re planning to hop on your bike, here are some things to consider.


First, wear a helmet, even if your state doesn’t require it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent and the risk of head injury by 69 percent.

Head protection approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Standards can be the difference between life and death. Be sure to look for the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet. A certified helmet also will have a permanent inside label identifying the manufacturer and providing information about the care and use of the helmet.


  • Check your tires. Make sure the tires are properly inflated, have sufficient tread, and show no signs of dry rot. It’s never a bad idea to take your bike in for an experienced motorcycle mechanic’s once-over.
  • Check fluids and filters. Change the oil and check to your bike’s brake fluid and coolant levels. Inspect the filters (air, fuel, and oil), and don’t forget to lube the chain if yours has one.
  • Inspect shocks and brakes. Check for warped discs, listen for squeaks and squeals, and feel for dragging or heavy brakes. You can check the shocks by pushing down on the bike to see if they compress properly.
  • Give passengers instructions. If you're giving someone a ride on the back of your bike, make sure they wait until the engine has started before mounting the cycle. They should wear a helmet, too, sit as far forward as possible, and always keep both feet on the footrests.
  • Pay attention to the weather. Wet, rainy roads can be especially treacherous for motorcyclists. Use extra caution and take things slower during times when roads might be slick or when visibility is diminished. 
  • Wear safety gear. Motorcyclists should have adequate protection for their eyes, hands, extremities, and feet. Bad weather, bugs, and road debris can wreak havoc on exposed skin. Don some heavy denim or leather to protect you from the elements, and don't forget sunscreen.
  • Don't drive while impaired. The same laws applies to motorcycles as cars.

Share the road with motorcycles

Motorists need to do their part to make the road they share with motorcyclists safe. Common sense and common courtesy are two of the best share-the-road tools available to you. If you’re behind the wheel, watch for motorcycles and make the road you share a safer place by following some suggestions.

  • Give motorcycles some space. Motorcycle drivers have the right to their own lane even if they don’t fill up the whole width of it. Crowding into a single lane with a motorcycle is ill-advised and illegal.
  • Check your blind spots. Before you change lanes or merge, take time to make sure that there’s not a rider next to you who is just out of your field of sight.
  • Pay attention when turning. Vehicles turning left in front of motorcycles is a common cause of motorcycle accidents. Be vigilant at intersections and take the time to look twice before proceeding with your turn.

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The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice and should be confirmed with alternative sources.

Sources: Skilled Motorcyclist Association; Forbes Advisor