Riding a motorcycle gives drivers a thrill that makes all the risks worthwhile. Still, there’s an extra level of responsibility you have on a bike that goes along with the excitement.
This is especially true in California, where the winding roads and majestic scenery can be a distraction. Maybe you are immune to the beauty, but the other drivers won’t always be.
To drive safely in the Golden State, make sure you follow these tips. Do your part to arrive alive!
1. Buy the Safe Bike, Not the Flashy One
The dream of most bikers is to own the flashiest, sleekest ride on the market. If you check the statistics, though, these bikes usually have the highest crash and fatality ratings.
You can still have a gorgeous motorcycle and aim for safety. Look for a standard bike or a cruiser. Touring and sport-touring motorcycles also have good ratings.
Avoid buying a sport or super-sport bike. Sure, you’ll be the envy of all your friends, but is the danger really worth it? Especially if you’re just starting out, buy a less powerful model and upgrade as you learn the ropes.
2. Pay Attention in Class
To drive a motorcycle in California, you have to take a class, in addition to a host of other requirements. You’ll need a motorcycle permit, and if you’re operating a two-wheel bike, it’ll require a Class M1 license (motorcycle endorsement).
Anyone 21 years of age or older and planning to drive a motorcycle has to pass a California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP). Alternatively, they can head to a local DMV office and pass a motorcycle driving test there.
Not Everyone Can Drive a Motorcycle
Because the prevalence of motorcycle crashes is so high in the state, the requirements to get a license are strict. Your driving history will be scrutinized, and you’ll need to pass a vision and written test and provide a thumbprint.
On top of the application fee and forms you’ll fill out, anyone under 18 has to include state-approved driver training and an education source. They’ll also have to have a motorcycle learning permit for six months or longer.
There’s a reason for all of these security features. Driving a car gives you a 20% chance of injury or death in a crash. Driving a bike increases that risk to more than 80%.
Take the courses and information you’re given seriously, and pay attention in class.
3. Wear the Helmet
But driving a powerful bike with a helmet on isn’t cool!
Worrying about what people will think about you being safe on your bike is dangerous. If you want to keep riding your new motorcycle, follow the safety rules.
By law, anyone riding a motorbike in the State of California has to wear a helmet. t’s important to use the right helmet for your type of ride. If you’re going on tours or long cruises, make sure to choose a special helmet that’s designed for those activities. The one you use must meet the minimum government safety requirements.
Without a helmet, you are more likely to end up with traumatic brain injuries from or dying in an accident. Wear your head protection, and consider investing in other safety gear.
4. Drive Sober
If you’ve been drinking or using any prescription or illegal substances, stay off your bike. You might think you’re fine to drive, but operating a motorcycle requires complete focus and brainpower.
Any small delay in your responses, no matter how minor, can be fatal. One beer is all it takes to mess with your attention and ability to make decisions.
This is especially true in inclement weather. The roads in California can be windy and slick. Visibility is often an issue. When a buzz or substance has you at less than 100%, that small puddle in the road or nearly invisible curve in the dark can be deadly.
Driving Under the Influence is Costly
Alcohol and drugs also make us think we’re more invincible and tough than we actually are. You may drive too fast for the road conditions, run through road signs, and become a danger to yourself and others.
The penalty for causing an accident because you were drunk or high is severe. If there was a serious injury or death, you could be facing years in state prison. Simple property damage can still put you in county jail with hefty fines.
It’s not worth the chance. Call a Lyft or Uber, or hitch a ride with a friend.
We all should do our part to make sure motorcyclists have their fair share of the road to avoid paying any traffic ticket costs in California. Looking twice to save a life is common sense, but so is driving safely when you’re on a bike.
We’ve all seen the wild bikers who swerve in and out of traffic like the rules don’t apply to them. It’s dangerous anywhere, but in California, the odds are stacked against you even more. The winding roads, low visibility, and distracted drivers make motorcycle drivers an easy target.
Do your part to get you and your treasured bike home safely. Follow these tips, and always take being behind the wheel seriously.