Risks Distracted Drivers Pose to Motorcycle Riders

Based on figures from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), distracted driving played a factor in 80 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle rider. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving injures 20,000 motorcycle riders and kills another 400 to 500 annually. Distracted driving encompasses a wide range of behaviors:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating or reading
  • Applying makeup
  • Brushing hair
  • Talking to other passengers
  • Tuning the radio
  • Wearing headphones
  • Using a GPS
 

All of these actions can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, increasing the chance they will miss a stop sign, go through an intersection or hit a passing vehicle. Motorcycles are particularly vulnerable, due to their smaller size and lack of enclosure. Motorists may misjudge how far away a bike is or miss a motorcycle in their blind spot.

Especially in early spring, drivers may not be expecting to see motorcycles and could react too late. As a rider, keep your head on a swivel and always proceed into intersections with caution. For your safety, what else should you think about?

Dangers of Phone Use Behind the Wheel

motor vehicle accidentAt any given moment, an estimated 800,000 US drivers are texting behind the wheel. This behavior is responsible for:

  • 1.6 million accidents annually
  • 25 percent of all car accidents
  • Elevated crash risks
  • Decreased brake reaction
  • 11 teen deaths every day

As of 2018, 16 states and the District of Columbia ban talking on a cell phone or other hand-held device while driving. Forty-seven states and D.C. forbid texting and driving.

Identifying Distracted Driving

As a motorcycle rider, how can you tell someone is distracted behind the wheel?

  • They weave in and out of traffic
  • They drive over the center line
  • You spot them wearing headphones
  • They brake suddenly
  • Their vehicle stays stopped at a green light

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4 Tips for Spring Motorcycle Rides

When spring arrives, we want to get out, hit and road and feel the wind as we travel. While adventure is likely on your mind this time of year, it’s important to be practical. We need to check our bikes for things like pests and old fluids, as well as brush up on our riding skills.

After you perform a motorcycle tune-up, what’s next? As you get ready for the first few rides of the season, think about the following points.

1. Have the Right Gear

riding on a sunny dayYou can never be too careful, even when circling the block to get back in the swing of things. Prepare for uneven pavement, potholes, accidents and unpredictable weather with the right riding gear:

  • Have your motorcycle jacket, pants and boots ready to wear, rather than jeans and a T-shirt.
  • Spring brings rain showers, so have your waterproof gear on-hand in case you’re caught in a storm.
  • Don’t forget your cold weather gear for chilly spring evenings. Extra insulation is essential when you’re riding through cool temperatures and windy conditions.
  • Will you be riding at dusk or past sundown? Have a clear visor, balaclava and glove liners to combat the chill.

2. Take Things Slow

We’re all looking forward to lengthy trips through back roads and down the coast, but these rides shouldn’t be on your radar yet. Now is the time to remember how it feels to ride and get your skills back up to speed. What can you do?

  • Circle the block a few times and be sure to stay local.
  • Understand your reaction time could be a bit slower in the beginning.
  • Go around corners slowly, as you remember how to shift the weight of the bike into the curve.
  • Stick to familiar roads and routes but understand there could be winter damage, like potholes.
  • Travel the speed limit or slower, as other motorists may not be expecting to see motorcycles and could pull out in front of you.
  • Always follow the rules of the road and drive defensively.

3. Think About Mechanical Issues

After the tires have been inspected and the fluids changed, your bike could still experience mechanical issues. Aside from staying on familiar routes close to home, anticipate any potential breakdowns and have a cell phone on-hand. Plan who to call for help in the event of a breakdown.
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4 Summer Road Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

Our favorite time of year is here: Summer! As motorcyclists, we especially love the longer days, open roads and bountiful sunshine. While this season often has the perfect weather for riding, it’s important to keep safety in mind. The following tips can help everyone to be safer on the roads this summer.

1. Watch Out For Traffic

motorcycle driving through trafficSummertime brings a tremendous amount of traffic to roadways statewide. Be sure to watch out for all vehicles, including cars, trucks and bicycles, as well as pedestrians.

Never ride in another motorist’s blind spot, as a sudden lane switch or door opening could spill you off your bike. Ride safely and defensively to protect yourself and other drivers on the road.

2. Get Your Practice In

While charity motorcycle events can be the highlight of the summer, it’s important to be prepared for a large organized ride. If you have never participated in a group ride, be sure to get some riding time in beforehand.

During the journey to your shared destination, keep a two-second stagger between yourself and other riders and never lane switch. If one rider goes down, it could lead to a dangerous domino effect.

3. Be Prepared for Construction

All motorists should approach construction sites with caution, but motorcyclists have particular risks to keep in mind. When the road is being milled, slow down and ride at a comfortable pace, relaxing your grip on the controls. Do not make any sudden maneuvers for your own and the workers’ safety. If you have a narrow front tire, know this can magnify the effects of road milling.

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5 Spring Riding Safety Tips

When spring weather arrives in New England, motorcycle riders can barely contain their excitement. After months of snow and ice keeping us off the roads, the temperature is rising and the pavement is drying – it’s time to ride!

Before you head out, be sure to keep the following safety tips in mind for spring.

Perform Routine Maintenance

riding a motorcycle in the rainFor your own safety and the safety of others sharing the road, never assume your motorcycle is ready to ride. If your bike has been in storage all winter, it likely needs some work. Be sure to check the following components before rolling out:

  • Test the brakes in your driveway or take a quick spin around the neighborhood.
  • Refill the gas tank and change the oil. Also have the fluids flushed and replenished.
  • Check the tires for proper inflation. Months in storage can lead to air loss.

Review Insurance & Registration

Before planning your first motorcycle trip, make sure your license and registration are up-to-date. You should also contact your insurance carrier to make sure you’re sufficiently covered in the event of an accident. Motorcyclists who are caught on the road with an expired registration or no insurance policy can be fined and have their bikes towed.

Update Your Gear

Although the weather is getting warmer, it’s important to keep your body protected in the event of a spill. Durable riding boots, gloves, a helmet and leather jacket are recommended to prevent damage to your body. Riders should never hit the road wearing sneakers, a t-shirt or shorts – even on the hottest of days – or they risk road rash. This occurs when skin makes contact with the pavement after a spill off a moving motorcycle.

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Harley-Davidson Recall for Brake Failure

On February 7th, 2018, it was reported that Harley-Davidson is recalling 251,000 motorcycles worldwide for potential brake failure. Of this number, nearly 175,000 belong to riders on U.S. roadways. The cost to Harley-Davidson is $29.4 million dollars. If you own a Harley-Davidson CVO Touring or VSRC motorcycle from 2008 – 2011, read on for further details.

What Caused the Recall?

motorcycle shock absorberAccording to official documents, there is a module within Harley-Davidson’s anti-lock brake system that can cause these models to fail without warning. When the oil is contaminated by moisture, the brake valves and module can corrode, causing a system shutdown. Either the front or back brakes could fail, but there is a chance of both systems malfunctioning.

When Did the Investigation Begin?

Unfortunately, it took three reported crashes and two injuries to spark an investigation into the potential dangers associated with CVO Touring and VSRC bikes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began examining problems with the anti-lock brake system in July 2016, after 43 total complaints were filed against the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer.

Harley-Davidson’s Response

The issue is linked to the motorcycle’s brake fluid, which should be replaced every two years by the bike owner.

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Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in Traffic

When you do not speed, drink and ride, or go to the left into oncoming traffic, your chances of being in a fatal motorcycle accident are greatly reduced. Following the rules of the road is also a good rule of thumb to stay safe, but this can be more difficult for motorcyclists – especially in traffic. There are many blind spots with vehicles and its far more dangerous for riders when a truck is involved. Not only can we be less visible to drivers, but stop and go traffic can make the bike harder to handle. 

We offer 4 tips to ride safely in traffic. 

Watch Other Drivers

motorcycle driving through trafficIf surrounding motorists fail to see you, it becomes your responsibility to keep an eye on them. Watching their mirrors and head movements can help you anticipate a sudden maneuver that could knock you down. Especially in congested traffic, a motorcycle can get lost in a car’s blind spot. Keep your head on a swivel to help prevent a tragic accident.

Pick a Side

When traffic slows during rush hour, never position your bike directly behind a vehicle. Many motorists are guilty of speeding up at the first sign of open road, only to slam on the brakes when cars get backed up again. If you stay to the left or right of the vehicle in front of you, there is room to get around if the driver stops short. Rather than slamming into their bumper and risking being thrown from the bike, choose a side to lean towards.

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Fall Motorcycle Riding Tips

While every rider enjoys the warm weather of summer, fall can be just as fun for motorcycle trips. The brilliant foliage, crisp air and reduced traffic makes autumn a great time for hitting the open road – if you are prepared.

For all the scenic enjoyment that fall brings to New England, there are also plenty of hazards. From poor weather and wild animal crossings to slick roads and sudden drops in temperature, riders need to stay alert to make motorcycle riding in autumn a safe and fun experience.

Here are some tips on how to safely navigate the pitfalls of the fall season.

Look at the Leaves

riding a motorcycle in the rainFall foliage attracts thousands of visitors to New England every year. The striking red, yellow and orange colors can turn forests into magical landscapes. However, when the leaves start to fall, riders need to take notice. Dry leaves often gather in piles, which can cover up a pothole or other hazardous road condition. When approaching a pile of dry leaves, slow down and try to steer around it. You never know what might be lurking underneath!

On the other hand, wet leaves are no better. Rain and morning dew cause wet leaves that can make for a very slick surface. Many riders will tell you stories of spills caused by wet leaves. Again, be cautious around wet leaves and slow down when rain has fallen.

Deer in the Headlights

We’ve all seen the damage a full-grown buck can do to a car, whether on the news or from real life experience. Just imagine what it would do to you and your motorcycle if you collide? Fall is a popular time for deer to come out of the woods and make their way across roads, so be on the lookout for these large animals. Wild turkeys and black bears will be moving as well. 

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Top Hazards for Motorcycles

Riding a motorcycle is one of those life thrills that is hard to match. Traveling down an empty backroad on two wheels with the wind flowing across your body and the power of the bike underneath is a unique experience only riders understand.

However, with this thrill comes many hazards that every motorcyclist needs to be aware of before hitting the road. The following dangers are widely regarded as the most important for riders to pay attention to. And remember, other motorists are not always looking out for you, so it is imperative you take the initiative to be cautious.

Oncoming Traffic

motor vehicle accidentOne of the main issues among motorists today is distracted driving. From texting and eating to daydreaming, many recent accidents are the result of motorists not paying attention. Even if a distracted driver simply clips a motorcycle, it can result in the rider being thrown from his bike, which could lead to serious injury. As a rider, you need to be attentive always and recognize ahead of time when a distracted driver is approaching. If you see a motorist talking on his phone or swerving out of his lane, ease up and wait for the danger to pass.

Sudden Stops

While most drivers try to be cautious, there may come a time when a sudden stop is necessary. From children darting out into the street to a vehicle pulling out in front of another, situations will occur that you could not have predicted.

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Motorcycle Summer Safety Tips

Summer is the season many motorcycle riders live for; long days when the weather is warm and the roads are open for day trips. However, if you don’t prepare properly, a lot of things can go wrong that could turn your trip into a less than enjoyable riding experience.

We want everyone to enjoy their time on the roads this summer, so here are a few tips that can help ensure your ride is both fun and safe.

Hydration

Summers in Connecticut can be very hot and humid. Being in the burning sun for hours on a heat-emitting motorcycle can take a toll on a rider. If you get dehydrated, your ability to ride safely becomes more difficult. You may start to feel weak, disoriented and even faint. Avoid this situation by drinking plenty of water before a trip and having water with you while riding.

Navigation System

Many motorcyclists ride to get away from the stress of everyday life, but you don’t want to go so far you can’t get home. There are plenty of GPS systems for smartphones and watches, as well as motorcycle dashboards, that can help you navigate your way back to familiar territory.

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How Cars & Motorcycles Can Share the Road

As the weather starts to heat up this spring, traffic on Connecticut roadways will only get worse. With motorcycles returning to the scene, it is especially important for everyone to use sound judgment and caution to help reduce accidents.

Both car and truck drivers, as well as motorcyclists, can do their fair share to make the roads safe for everyone. We outline a few tips for all parties.

Tips for Motorcycle Riders

  • car and motorcycle accidentMake sure your motorcycle is ready to ride by performing your own maintenance checklist or having it professionally tuned-up by a mechanic.
  • Position yourself for maximum visibility and avoid riding in blind spots.
  • Learn how to brake correctly, using both brakes, and practice proper braking techniques.
  • Take a motorcycle safety training course. The more you know about your bike, the better you become at making important decisions when riding.
  • Always expect the unexpected and don’t assume a car or truck sees you.

Tips for Car Drivers

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