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In an average year 166,000 Americans will be hospitalised as a result of a motorcycle accident. 4,700 of them die. Many others will be crippled for life. In some countries the death rate for motorcyclists is up to nine times higher than that for persons riding in a car. Why is this the case? Three primary reasons have been identified:

(1) A motorcycle is harder to see than a car
(2) A motorcycle offers little or no protection for its rider
(3) A motorcycle’s handling is tricky – if it skids, it often spills.

It’s not surprising, then, that many people consider motorcycles to be dangerous. Yet, motorcycles do have definite advantages. The fuel economy is hard to overlook, with 60 to 70 miles being achieved from one gallon of fuel. Bikes are easy to manoeuvre, they allow ease of parking and they cost less than a car. Not to be overlooked is the thrill that comes from riding a bike. The sense of freedom and the feeling of control are difficult to emulate in a car. Here’s how one rider puts it, “ It’s exciting to feel that machine beneath you, to know that it will answer to your every whim or direction, to lean into curves and know that it will carry you to your destination reliably.”

So, how can you have the best of both worlds? How can you enjoy the speed, freedom and excitement of riding a motorcycle while, at the same time, reducing the very real risk of injury? As with most things, a little common sense goes a long way here. Treat the bike (potential killing machine that it is) with respect and you will be able to enjoy it without mishap. Specifically, you should adhere to the following points:

(a) Ride with Extreme Care. Steering, accelerating and braking require skill and a high degree of coordination.
(b) Avoid the centre of the Lane. That is where debris and oil droppings from cars accumulate
(c) Wear a Proper Outfit. Always wear a helmet. Gloves, a jacket and boots will also protect you.
(d) Ride with your Headlight On. If permitted by traffic laws, do this even in daytime. It will make you more visible to other motorists.
(e) Apply Reflective Tape to your Helmet. This makes you more visible at night.
(f) Drive Defensively. Do not expect that car drivers will give you the right-of-way.
(g) Never ride a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Keep in mind, too, that, although it may be music to your ears, not everyone will enjoy the sound of your engine revving in the morning. So, to keep peace with your neighbours try showing a little consideration when it comes to the noise factor.

Maintain your bike regularly. Make sure the brakes are in order. Do routine chain and engine checks before taking the bike out for a spin.
Apply these simple, common sense suggestions and you can safely enjoy the sense of freedom and the feeling of control that can only come from riding a motorcycle.