Motorcycle Safety in Texas: Statistics, Helmet Laws and Proper Gear

 

For many Dallas-Fort Worth motorcyclists, heading out on the chopper is a favorite pastime. Unfortunately, as a personal injury attorney I've seen the not-so-cheery side of Texas motorcycles. Still, with the right gear and knowledge any motorcyclist can enjoy the open road safely. Here, I cover some of the basics. 

 

The Main Causes of Fort Worth Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle collisions have three main causes: speeding, alcohol and poor visibility. 

Speeding

Speeding accidents - either single-vehicle or multi-vehicle - are more common than you might think. When a motorcyclist attempts to speed and weave through traffic, they're more likely to wreck into a car or lose control of their motorcycle. Similarly, riders who speed while navigating curves in the road can easily spin out of control. 

Drinking and Driving

In Texas, 38 percent of biker fatalities occur when the driver is above a .08 BAC, and 46 percent when the driver isabove a .01 BAC. Don’t drink and drive motorcycles. 

Visibility 

Not surprisingly, many motorcycle wrecks are caused by other drivers who don't see the rider. Typically, a driver changes lanes without looking or attempts to make a left hand turn across a road and ends up crashing into the motorcyclist. This is common if a motorcyclist is in a driver's blind spot and the driver decides to suddenly cut across lanes. As we all know, such crashes can lead to serious injury and even death. 

 

How To Avoid Wrecking Your Motorcycle

Speeding and rider error account for the majority of motorcycle accidents on the road. Avoid speeding, take appropriate motorcycle riding classes and don’t ride beyond your skill level.

Stay Visible

  • Wear a light-colored, bright helmet with reflectors on the back.
  • Wear light-colored motorcycle gear, or wear a reflective construction vest over your gear.
  • Make sure your lights are in good condition and consider a motorcycle headlight modulator that complies with federal law.
  • Consider installing additional motorcycle break lights. 

Be Extra Cautious When Approaching Intersections

More motorcycle accidents happen at intersections than in any other situation. Other drivers are prone to ignore motorcyclists, often forgetting to check for them. Get in the habit of applying your brakes slowly as you approach an intersection. 

Avoid Riding At Night

There is a saying that nothing good happens after midnight. In many ways, it's the truth; not only do more drunk driving crashes occur between 12 and 2 in the morning, but more motorcycle wrecks also happen at night. If you must ride after dark, use reflective gear and stay vigilant. 

Keep Up With Maintenance on Your Bike

Not all injury-causing accidents are the result of a multi-vehicle collision. Motorcyclists can also suffer injuries if their bike is defective. Get an experienced motorcycle mechanic to inspect and service your bike on an annual basis. 

 

Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives

Whenever a motorcyclist is involved in a traffic accident, they are liable to suffer extremely serious bodily injuries - regardless of whether or not any other vehicles were involved. Some of the more serious injuries resulting from highway collisions include traumatic brain injury, open head wounds, spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Since motorcycle riders have none of the same protection offered by other passenger vehicles (such as seat belts or airbags) their bodies are exposed and vulnerable.
 
One of the few opportunities motorcyclists have to protect themselves is by wearing a helmet. Helmets protect the head against penetration and absorb impacts to protect the brain and skull.

Despite the potentially life-saving qualities of motorcycle helmets, the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that only 54 percent of motorcyclists across America actually choose to wear helmets. 
 
When you buy a new helmet always make sure that it fits comfortably on your head and that the chin strap fits snugly around your ears and beneath your chin. The helmet should not shift around on your head. Use extra pads if necessary to get a good fit and try on different sizes to compare what fits you best. Be sure that the helmet sits low on your forehead, just above your eyebrows. 

 

Choose the Right Gear

Wear Gear with Reflective Properties

As we discussed, staying visible is one of the most important safety measures you can take as a motorcyclist. 

Choose Gear with Abrasion-Resistant Fabric

It is vital to wear abrasion-resistant fabric to protect yourself while on a motorcycle. Kevlar or synthetic material with a denier rating of at least 600 denier should do the job. You can find this information on the tag of most clothing items. 

Wear Equipment With Armor in the Right Places

If you're knocked off your bike, armored gear can protect you. You should wear jackets with CE-rated armor for the elbows, shoulders and back. Pants with knee and hip armor are also necessary for maximum protection if you were to fall off your motorcycle. Armored boots can help protect the small bones in your feet and prevent your ankles from twisting. 

Even though the weather is hot in Texas, it's important to wear proper gear. Mesh gear, for instance, provides good air flow, and some mesh gear has high denier fabric on impact zones, like the arms and elbows. With the right mesh gear, you can still get the protection you need on even the hottest days of the year.

 

Motorcycle Safety Classes in Texas

With over 80,000 motorcycle injuries every year and nearly 5,000 fatalities, motorcyclists need to do everything they can to stay safe on the roads. There are things that riders can do to protect themselves, starting with taking a motorcycle safety class.

Motorcycle safety classes come in varieties for all skill levels. If you’re a new motorcycle rider, you can take a beginning class that typically alternates between classroom training and training on the bike. Beginner classes start with basic riding techniques and give you a good foundation for riding safely.

Intermediate and advanced motorcycle classes provide more advanced safety techniques. These classes might deal with the challenges of riding at night, riding in poor weather or riding on rough road conditions. You’re more likely to learn advanced evasive techniques in these classes. 

In addition to providing valuable safety techniques, motorcycle safety classes also provide an opportunity receive discounted insurance with many insurance companies. Depending on the class and the insurance company, you can get up to a 10 percent discount on your motorcycle insurance policy if you’ve taken a motorcycle safety class. 

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a national non-profit organization that provides safety tips, information on classes and gear and information about state laws and local organizations that promote motorcycle rider safety. Check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for more information on riding safely, and check in periodically for updates and useful tips as new data becomes available.


 
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