Remember that a motorcycle requires more skill and coordination to operate than a car. Riders must ride aware, know their limits, and ride within them. You must also be aware of and understand your motorcycle's limitations and the environment in which you ride.
DC DMV has lots of tips to help keep you safe as a motorcyclist.
- Attend a motorcycle training course to learn skills and safety, and always follow the rules and laws.
- Watch out for intersections, where about 70 percent of motorcycle collisions occur.
- Stay out of cars’ blind spots to stay visible.
- Focus on defensive driving; recognize that cars may not see you. Some advise that you should assume you are invisible!
- Be extra cautious in bad weather and bad road conditions; minor problems for cars are major hazards for motorcycles.
- Stay sober: approximately half of all fatal single-vehicle motorcycle crashes involve alcohol.
- Wear protective clothing that covers and cushions your body—pants and long-sleeved jackets—with bright, reflective colors on your upper body to make you visible.
- Always wear a helmet with a US Department of Transportation certification.
- Wear clean, unscratched, high-quality goggles or a face shield on your helmet for eye protection—and make sure it is clear when night riding.
- Keep your hands covered with durable, comfortable gloves that allow a firm grip on the controls.
- Wear solid shoes or boots, preferably that cover your ankles as well—no hanging laces that can get tangled.
- Don’t take a passenger until you have considerable solo riding time; riding with a passenger requires even more skill.
- Read your motorcycle owner’s manual; learn your motorcycle and how it runs so you will notice if something is off.
- Treat other motorists with courtesy and respect.
- Do not tailgate or let other vehicles tailgate you.
- Avoid riding between lanes of slow moving or stopped traffic.
- Know and obey traffic laws, including ordinances in your community.
- Leave your stock muffler in place or use a muffler that reduces noise.
- Use signals when turning or changing lanes, always check the rearview mirrors—and make a head check, and don’t crowd the other vehicle when you pass.
- Ride in the portion of the lane where it is most likely that you will be seen.
- Use your headlights, day and night.
- Don’t speed and avoid sudden braking or turning.
- Remember, conditions are most dangerous during the first few minutes of a rain fall, and while you may get traction following in a car’s tracks, following too closely could cause an accident.
- Pass only when it is safe to do so.
- Do not pass or ride on the shoulder. Remember to make a head check before changing lanes.
- Use brakes wisely, both brakes together, braking firmly and progressively, and bring the motorcycle upright before stopping.
- Check your brakes by applying light pressure after you pass through water.
- Carry the owner's manual and recommended tools and spare parts on your motorcycle.
- Adhere closely to the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.
- Before each day's riding, perform a visual and operational check of the motorcycle and its operating systems.