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Know truth from myth when riding your motorcycle

You have likely heard your share of advice about staying safe on your motorcycle. For example, perhaps someone advised you to lay your bike down to avoid a crash. This is only one myth that may actually do more harm than good. In fact, laying your bike down can cause more severe bodily harm than simply applying effective techniques on the brake.

Of course, you know better than to drink alcohol in any amount before getting onto a machine that requires your ability to balance. You may also feel safer on the interstate, despite misinformed friends who advise you to stick to streets where traffic flows unpredictably in half a dozen directions, with pedestrians and intersections thrown into the mix.

Helmets

While well-meaning friends may try to perpetuate motorcycle riding myths, many of these falsehoods may arise to excuse a biker's own mistakes or personal preferences. For example, most bikers have definite opinions about the use of helmets when they ride. Contrary to popular myths, helmets do NOT do the following:

  • Block your field of vision
  • Muffle sounds of danger
  • Create extra weight that makes your neck susceptible to injury
  • Leave you brain damaged in a potentially fatal accident
  • Provide inadequate protection in most crashes

Studies show that helmets do save lives, and that in accidents where helmeted riders die, a head injury does not usually cause the fatality.

Looking out for yourself when others don't

One of the most dangerous myths many motorcycle riders believe is that drivers of larger vehicles don't care about the safety of bikers. In fact, it is likely that even the most vocal opponents of motorcycles really don't want to crash into one.

However, there are often circumstances that render a biker less visible to drivers who may not always be looking out for motorcycles. Motorcycle safety advocates recommend that you make every effort to help drivers see you by wearing bright clothing and keeping your headlights on high. Studies show that noisy tailpipes are not the answer, and that motorcycles with modified exhaust systems are involved in accidents more frequently than those with regular mufflers.

No matter your skill, there may come a moment when you are unable to avoid another vehicle. A driver who pulls out in front of you without stopping or plows into you from behind may be beyond your ability to avoid. Doing your part to protect yourself with appropriate clothing and defensive driving may reduce the possibility of serious injury.

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