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It can be a glorious feeling to ride with the wind in your face and the sun on your back, but the fun can turn deadly in an instant if riders do not take the proper precautions. Motorcycle riders are overrepresented in traffic accident fatalities. Take the right precautions every time you ride your bike in order to protect yourself, your passengers, and your fellow drivers. Since May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we put together some guidelines to help riders stay safe every time you start up your engines.

Check Your Bike Before Every Ride

Before you get on the road, it is important to check that every aspect of your bike is safe and operational. This is especially vital for those who only use their motorcycle occasionally, but full time riders would do well to follow a strict safety routine as well. Always be sure to check for gas or oil leaks, test headlights and turn signals, brakes and fluid levels, and examine tires before you ride off. If you have a passenger, remind them to keep their feet on the foot rests at all times and to keep a tight hold on your hips, waist, or belt.

Protect Your Body Properly

You must always – ALWAYS – wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle. There are no exceptions to this rule! NHTSA recommends wearing a helmet that meets DOT, Snell, or ANSI standards – these have been tested and certified to ensure maximum protection. There should be a label indicating certification on either the exterior or interior of the helmet. It is most important to protect your head, but the rest of your body needs protection as well. Cover your arms and legs with a tough material such as leather or heavy denim, and wear the right gloves and boots.

Don’t Take Risks on the Road

Many crashes involving motorcycles happen because a vehicle driver simply did not see the bike on the road. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, leave ample room between your bike and other vehicles, and remain on the defensive when there are other drivers around you. Always obey traffic laws. Just because your bike is small and can move differently than a standard passenger vehicle, it does not mean you have an excuse to do whatever you please on the road. Following speed limits and traffic laws helps keep not only you, but also your fellow citizens safe.

Don’t Drink and Ride

It is never safe to use alcohol or drugs before driving a motorcycle. Just like driving a car, boat, or other craft, driving a motorcycle while impaired will seriously impact your ability to operate the bike, make decisions, and react to dangers. According to a 2017 study by NHTSA, 28% of motorcycle drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were under the influence of alcohol. Do not ride your bike if you know you’re going to be drinking. It is never worth it to risk your life.

Having the right insurance also protects you as a motorcycle driver. Speak to your agent about motorcycle coverage and stay safe every time you ride.

April is distracted driving awareness month in the insurance world, and we at the Carnal Roberts Agency wanted to bring a different side of this topic to light on our blog this month. If you know the dangers of distracted driving, you avoid it. However as many of us know, you can’t control the actions of other people on the road. Here are a few useful tips for spotting – and avoiding – distracted drivers around you.

If You See a Driver Holding a Device, Get Away

Although in many states it is illegal to use handheld devices while driving, people will still do it anyway and make no effort to hide it. These people may have a phone held in front of their face, or they could be looking down. In either case it isn’t difficult to spot this distracted driver. If you see someone engaging in this kind of behavior in a car near you, the best thing to do is safely figure out how to get away. This could mean slowing down, changing lanes, or any other maneuver you feel you can safely perform. Do not let the distracted driver distract you, but do remove yourself from their path.

Watch for Swerving, Pausing, and Sudden Braking

You’re driving along and the car in front of you begins to waver back and forth across the lines. It could be accidental, but it is likely a sign of a distracted driver. It’s incredibly important to always leave plenty of space between your car and other cars, since the situation can turn dangerous in an instant if a car you’re too close to has a mishap. Similarly, be on the lookout for any car that lags behind after the light turns green. This is typically a sign that the driver’s eyes are not on the road, and this is a car you will want to avoid. Another common sign is if a car brakes suddenly to avoid hitting the car in front of them. This means they weren’t looking and did not notice the other cars slowing down. It can be difficult to avoid being rear ended by one of these distracted drivers, but always be on the lookout.

Practice and Encourage Distracted Driving Awareness

According to the CDC, nine people every day are killed in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving. Talk to your friends and family members (not just your children because adults drive distracted, too) about the dangers of distracted driving and how anyone can spot and avoid it on the road. Set an example for others by modeling safe driving practices yourself. You never know what can happen in a single instant.