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Open Road, Open Water

Do you love sitting on a rumbling mass of polished chrome, an endless ribbon of highway urging you on? Or maybe you dig getting up on plane as you head out for a day of skiing or fishing on your favorite body of water? Whatever floats your boat … or motorcycle. There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of having the sun on your shoulders and the wind in your face.

Not to ruin the fun of the above imagery, but when you do take to your favorite activity, please be sure you’re first familiar with all the safety aspects. Nothing ruins a good time faster than, well, a bad time. Always think safety first, for your well-being as well as those around you. Let’s take a quick look at some things you can do to help keep safety in the picture at all times. Today we’ll start with motorcycle safety. Stay tuned for tips on boat safety.

Motorcycle Safety

Training—Over 90 percent of riders involved in accidents had no formal training. All riders should have a grasp on good, basic riding techniques. Click here for a listing of safety courses in your area.

Gear—There’s not much between you and the open road when on your favorite bike, that’s why it’s important to invest in good riding gear. And your gear should always start with a high-quality DOT-approved helmet. Let’s take a look at some helmet facts:

  • Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.*
  • Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal motorcycle injuries.**
  • For motorcyclists involved in accidents, riders not wearing helmets spend longer periods of time in the hospital.
  • Wearing a helmet that fits well actually improves hearing by streamlining the head/ear area and reducing noise.

Yes, we’re aware not all states require the use of helmets. We simply ask that you use common sense and pay heed to the facts, and the facts are, helmets decrease the severity of injuries, decrease the likelihood of death and decrease the overall cost of medical care. O.K., did we make our point about helmets? Let’s move on. Here’s some other gear to consider:

  • If your helmet doesn’t have a face shield, pair it with goggles/glasses with safety lenses.
  • Invest in a good leather jacket (and pants). This will protect you not only from nasty abrasions, but also from the exposed hot parts of the bike. And we know black is the color, but remember, you’re easier to see if you’re wearing something bright.
  • Wear non-slip gloves with full fingers.
  • Be sure to have boots that cover your ankles.

Testing… —Always make sure your bike is ready for safe operation. Here’s a checklist to go over to be sure your ride is in working order:

  • Tires/wheels—Air pressure, tread, embedded objects. These are just a few of the things to check for before putting rubber to pavement.
  • Controls—Levers; not broken, cracked or loose? Check. Cables; move freely, no frays, do not interfere with steering? Check. Hoses; good condition? Check. Does the throttle move freely and snap closed when released? Check.
  • Lights/Electric—Are battery terminals clean? Headlight works with no cracks and is pointed in the correct direction? Wiring has clean connections? No frays? Proper routing? All lights/reflectors in good shape?
  • Fluids—Check oil level along with brake and clutch fluid, coolant and (d’oh!) gas. Are reservoirs, hoses and lines free of leaks?

In addition to all of the above, please consider, when on the road, YOU must be sure others are aware of you. Don’t assume other drivers see you.

  • Wear bright clothing and use reflective material.
  • Be watchful for vehicles moving in your direction.
  • Stay out of blind spots.
  • Don’t tailgate.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Be considerate on the road, signal intentions and don’t weave.
  • Use both brakes, slow and steady.

And above all, don’t drink and ride! There are enough hazards on the road, don’t create another one by dulling your senses.

For additional motorcycle safety information, click here.

Are you in the market for motorcycle insurance? Maybe you’re shopping different providers? Be sure to check out Credit Union Insurance Agency, LLC*** (CUIA). CUIA offers competitive motorcycle insurance options.

Ready to hit the lake? Stay tuned for safety tips on boating …

* U.S. Department of Transportation/National Traffic Safety Administration
p(small). ** NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2006