Motorcycles can give Texas bikers an unstoppable feeling: traveling with the wind while unencumbered by the steel walls of a typical motor vehicle.
Though your safety can't be guaranteed while riding a motorcycle, there are steps you (and the motorists around you) can take to greatly reduce the chances that you'll suffer an injury.
Reducing the risk of a motorcycle accident starts before you even hop on the saddle.
Driving a car and riding a motorcycle require different skills and knowledge. In addition to meeting the requirements necessary to obtain a regular driver's license, Texans must meet additional requirements in order to obtain a Class M driver's license to operate a motorcycle.
These requirements include, among other things, completing a DPS-approved motorcycle safety course and passing a written test and a road test.
While this may sound like a headache, the requirement ensures that you've at least taken the minimal safety courses and, just as important, that the motorcyclists sharing the road with you have taken those same courses.
In Texas, you must carry the following minimum liability coverage for your motorcycle:
While this required liability insurance helps others if you cause an accident, it doesn't help you if you're injured as a result of an accident. You should strongly consider acquiring “medical payments and personal injury protection coverage” to help cover your medical bills if you're injured in a motorcycle accident.
Having the proper safety attire can be the difference between life and death if you're involved in a motorcycle accident.
Most experts recommend wearing the following when operating or riding on a motorcycle:
In Texas, all riders under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle or scooter. Motorcyclists who are 21 years of age or older don't have a legal obligation to wear a helmet if they've completed a motorcycle safety course or purchased an appropriate health insurance plan that covers motorcycle accidents.
Whether you're legally required to wear a helmet or not, it's strongly recommended that you do so. One study found that motorcycle helmets are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries and that unhelmeted motorcyclists involved in crashes were 3 times more likely to suffer brain injuries than those wearing helmets.
How do I know if I'm wearing the right helmet?When buying a helmet, look for a Department of Transportation sticker. The presence of this sticker guarantees the helmet meets the safety standards required by law. Also, avoid buying a used helmet, as helmets are generally useless after they've been worn in a crash. Finally, make sure the helmet is a “full-coverage” or “full-face” helmet. These helmets offer the most protection for motorcyclists.
In Texas, all motorcycles are required to receive an annual inspection at an official motor vehicle inspection station. But you shouldn't just look over your motorcycle once per year; you should do a quick inspection before every ride.
Here are some of the most important things to check before you put your foot on the pedal:
If you'll be riding with a passenger, don't let them mount the motorcycle until after the engine has started. Once they're on your motorcycle, make sure they're sitting as far forward as possible, directly behind you. It's imperative that they keep both feet on the footrests at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped.
Staying safe begins before you mount your motorcycle, but it continues once you're on the open road.
As a motorcyclist in Texas, you're required to obey the traffic laws just like other motor vehicles. Among other things, this means you're prohibited from lane splitting (driving between lanes to pass slow or stopped vehicles).
In addition, it's imperative you avoid riding your motorcycle while intoxicated.
In addition to following all traffic laws, here are some “best practices” you should follow while operating a motorcycle:
Most motorcyclists operate cars or trucks when they're not on their motorcycles. Don't forget about motorcyclists just because you're not on your motorcycle.
The following tips will help you avoid causing motorcycle accidents:
There are a number of resources available to help you become a safer motorcyclist. Here are some of the best resources out there:
Unfortunately, sometimes motorcycle accidents happen even if you take all the appropriate safety measures. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, reach out to an experienced Texas attorney to discuss your legal options.