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Motorcycle safety tips for the summer

Riding a motorcycle may be freeing and enjoyable, but it remains far from safe. In fact, according to national reports, motorcycles might account for just 3 percent of vehicles on the road, but they make up 18 percent of overall fatalities.

These motorcycle deaths peak in the summer months and head injuries account for the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. To cut down on your chances of becoming a statistic, listed below are several recommended motorcycle safety tips.

Get proper training for riding

Lack of training is found to be an issue in a majority of fatal motorcycle crashes. Before hitting the road, invest in a riding course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). An MSF course can help you learn the basics, or hone your skills if you've been away from riding, and teach you some advanced techniques.

You'll also learn how to perform emergency evasive maneuvers that could save your life and the lives of others. Completion of one of these courses could also make you eligible for insurance discounts with some major carriers.

Ride sober and undistracted

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 30 percent of the motorcycle riders who died in crashes in 2014 were drunk. Alcohol has been found to affect some of the skills necessary to properly operate a motorcycle. These include balance, coordination, and let's not forget judgment.

Wear protective gear

While it might look cool to ride a motorcycle in shorts, t-shirt, and a baseball cap, it may not be the safest move. Not only will be it be a painful experience if you slide out, but this has also proven a deadly choice for many riders. Road rash can be avoided by wearing leather or other padded materials.

Helmets remain a hot topic for many riders, but it's been found that riders who don't wear helmets are 40 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal head injury crash and up to three times more likely to suffer a brain injury than riders who choose to forgo the option. Your best choice is to wear a full-face helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Other safety tips

Motorcycle riders need to remain extra-vigilant as many accidents occur simply because a motor vehicle didn't see them in their blind spot. Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles and driving defensively is important.

Also, weather and road hazards become key elements to safety as they impact both visibility and handling for a motorcycle much more than with a car. Keep an eye on the weather report and slow down around potential road hazards.

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