Motorcycle-related deaths have soared over the last decade – with Motorcycle deaths increasing by nine percent in 2012 to more than 5,000 fatalities.

An increase of 1,082 road deaths in 2012 amounted to an uptick of 3.3 percent nationwide – with most of the additional deaths from pedestrians and motorcyclists. Motorcycle, Pedestrian Deaths Rise

The good news? Riders and passengers can protect themselves by wearing helmets – estimated to prevent 37 percent of crash deaths among motorcycle riders and 41 percent of crash deaths for motorcycle passengers.

While wearing a helmet helps, there are other ways to stay safe. When you ride your motorcycle or are a passenger, follow these simple safety tips.

  • Ride defensively at all times.
  • Pretend to be invisible. Many time drivers do not see motorcyclists – so adopt a mindset that no one can see you to be safer and better prepared.
  • Be as conspicuous as possible. Wear bright clothing, light colored helmets, and always use your driving headlight when on the road.
  • Never ride your motorcycle after drinking. Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. Statistics show that the percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders in fatal crashes is even greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers on our roads. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
  • Don’t let friends ride impaired. Take their keys away.
  • Wear protective clothing that provides injury protection. Upper body clothing should also include bright colors or reflective materials, so that other motorists can more easily see you.
  • Avoid tailgating.
  • Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when traveling over slippery surfaces or gravel.
  • Take a motorcycle safety class. In fact, take advantage of any opportunity to learn, improve, and increase your riding skills  as well as your ability to  react quickly.
  • Be wary of weather. Because they aren’t as stable as cars, riding a motorcycle in the rain is much riskier than driving a car.
  • Leave enough space – always keep a 20-foot cushion between you and other riders.
  • Ride within your skills. As an example, riding a motorcycle with too much power for your experience level can be dangerous.
  • Share The Road. Motorcyclists should be extra alert and make themselves visible to other motorists.
  • Keep your eyes moving, scanning for danger all around you. Don’t just focus on the car ahead – use your higher seating position to watch for danger two or three cars ahead to give maximum time to react.
  • Don’t take chances or try to jockey for position with other vehicles. You’re more vulnerable on a motorcycle, and it’s safer to yield to other traffic.
  • Slow down for curves ahead of time, rather than braking in a turn. It’s much safer, and it helps to maintain balance and avoid a skid. Roll the throttle back on as you exit the turn.
  • When leaning into turns, keep your head upright. That makes it easier to maintain balance.

Consumer Reports – Motorcycle police share tips on safe riding.

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