Many motorists are trading in their cars for motorcycles partly to save money on gas, partly because of the allure of the sense of freedom that only comes with riding a motorcycle. But if you're new to two wheels, be warned: just as the motorcycle has attained a mythical status within American culture, so too are there many myths concerning motorcycle safety.
1 "You should lay your bike down to avoid a crash." FALSE
Laying your bike down is actually just crashing anyway. My guess is that this was a line from a rider who inadvertently found himself on the floor while actually trying to avoid a collision. Maybe before ABS brakes, it was necessary in certain emergencies, but most modern bikes shouldn't have a problem staying upright when stopping quickly. Laying down could actually make things much worse.
2 "Helmets can actually cause more injuries." FALSE
I find it hard to accept that some people actually believe this. Despite urban legends which claim wearing a helmet could impair your vision or could actually cause a rider to break their neck if thrown from their bike, the truth is that countless studies prove the exact opposite. Statistically, wearing a helmet makes you a safer rider as bikers who chose to wear helmets crash far less frequently than those who don't. Additionally, DOT-approved helmets use energy-absorbing technology which prevents neck injuries.
3 "Loud pipes save lives." FALSE
The popularity of loud modified exhaust systems demonstrates the prevalence of the theory that the louder you are, the more likely other motorists will notice you. Not so. Pipes only carry your noise to the rear of the bike, so it only increases awareness to you to those drivers you've already passed - not to those up ahead. It's better to invest in a bright helmet and jacket, which have been proven to save lives.
4 "Don't use your front break." FALSE
Many novice bikers are erroneously taught not to use their front break because if they break too sharply, they could be thrown over the front of the bike. While it's true that 70 percent of a bike's stopping power is in the front break - that's actually power you'll want to use when you need to make a sudden stop. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation teaches new riders to use both the front and rear brakes simultaneously in order to ensure a safe, steady stop.
5 "Splitting lanes is dangerous." FALSE
First off, let me clarify that lane splitting is illegal in Texas. However, a study conducted in California - the only state where the practice is legal - suggests that splitting lanes is actually safer than staying in lane, particularly in heavy, slow-moving traffic. Nonetheless, it's not likely to be legalized in Texas any time soon.