Taking steps to better their operational skills and protect themselves may help North Carolina motorcyclists improve their safety.

With no vehicle exterior to protect them in the event of a wreck, sharing the road with other vehicles can be dangerous for motorcyclists in North Carolina. In fact, there were 3,119 motorcyclists injured and 163 killed in accidents across the state in 2015 alone, the North Carolina Department of Transportation reports. Any number of factors may contribute to the occurrence of motorcycle collisions, including other people simply not seeing the motorcycle, speeding, debris in the road, and riders lacking basic riding skills. While some crashes cannot be prevented, there are things motorcyclists can do to help improve their safety.

Practice makes perfect

It takes different skills and knowledge to operate motorcycles safely than is required for passenger vehicles. Before hitting the open road, it is advisable for motorcyclists to complete a certified rider-training course. Learning how these vehicles handle and respond in different circumstances will help ensure the rider is prepared to handle their motorcycle in the range of conditions they may encounter on the road.

Perform pre-ride checks

While a minor technical failure in a car may cause little or no inconvenience for drivers, such issues may have serious implications for motorcyclists. Therefore, motorcyclists should always conduct pre-ride checks. This includes checking the following: the air pressure, wear and tread on their tires; the oil and other fluid levels; the turn signals, headlights, brake lights, and taillights; the clutch, throttle and brakes; and the horn. They should also make sure their mirrors are cleaned and properly adjusted.

Dress for safety

Few experienced riders will argue with the aesthetic of a heavy leather jacket, gloves and some motorcycle boots. When it comes to riding, however, gear such as this is essential for protection. It will help minimize serious road-rash, scrapes and cuts in the event a rider goes down. Thus, it is recommended for motorcyclists to wear long pants, boots, leather or Kevlar reinforced jackets and most importantly, a helmet, when they ride. Brain injuries are the leading cause of death for motorcyclists involved in a crash.

Helmets are a vital piece of gear for motorcycle riders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a helmet may decrease a rider’s risk of suffering a head injury in a motorcycle accident by 69 percent. Therefore, riders should always wear an ANSI rated helmet.

Stay fit to ride

It may not seem like it, but riding a motorcycle can be a physically demanding task. Riders must be able to control their vehicles and bodies, as well as quickly identify and respond to potential hazards. In addition to maintaining their overall health and wellness, it is important for people to refrain from using drugs or drinking alcohol before riding motorcycles. In order for a rider to be safe, he or she must be able to think clearly.

Seeking legal assistance

When North Carolina motorcyclists are involved in collisions, they often suffer serious or catastrophic injuries. Injuries from a serious motorcycle crash usually require extensive medical treatment, hospitalization, and time off work to recover. As a result, riders may incur undue expenses and lose income. In some cases, however, the drivers responsible for causing such accidents and their insurance company can be held liable. Therefore, motorcyclists who have experienced situations such as this may find it helpful to discuss their accident with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney can analyze the situation and explain the rider’s rights and legal options for pursuing fair compensation. In the event of a crash, a rider should never give a statement to anyone from an insurance company before speaking to an attorney.