For the past few years, the number of motorcyclist fatalities has been steadily climbing. According to the National Highway Safety Administration 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in 2012, a seven percent increase from 2011. During the same period, injury accidents jumped by 15 percent. One recent study showed motorcycle riders were 37 times more likely to die in an accident than auto passengers and nine times more likely to be injured.

Some of the factors contributing to this alarming trend include motorcycle riders who lack a valid license, motorcyclists driving while intoxicated and speeding. //www.ghsa.org/html/issues/motorcyclesafety.html

To reduce motorcycle accidents, industry experts recommend riders practice the following safety tips:

Hone your riding skills – Sign up for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course. Check the MSF website for a location offering courses in your area.

Wear a helmet – Though the number of motorcycle enthusiasts who wear helmets has increased in recent years, only 60 percent of riders wear helmets approved by the Department of Transportation. Many fatalities could be prevented each year if all riders wore helmets.

Dress appropriately—Always don a leather or other sturdy jacket, gloves, long pants, and boots for proper protection when you ride. Brightly colored gear will help make you more visible on the road.

Avoid bad weather and road hazards – Wet or icy roads are especially dangerous for motorcyclists.  Rain reduces you visibility and your tires’ grip on the pavement. If you must drive in poor weather, be extra vigilant and slow down. In any conditions, watch for hazards like potholes, bumps, wet leaves, and pebbles that can cause your motorcycle to slide and you to take a nasty spill.

Get defensive – In 60 percent of collisions involving a car and a motorcycle, the car driver is at fault. Never assume an auto driver sees you, especially when changing lanes – give a driver time and space to respond to you.

Know and follow the rules – Always obey the speed limit and other traffic safety rules, and – above all – never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Safety first – Before hoping on your motorcycle, do a walk-around to make sure lights, horn, and directional signals are working properly. Check the chain, belt, or shaft and the brakes. And inspect the tires for wear and make sure they’re set at the proper pressure.

For more safety tips, see ConsumerReportsMotorycleSafetyTips or NHTSAMotorcycleSafety.

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