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The New Rider’s Guide to Motorcycle Safety


Ever wonder why dogs love to pop their heads out an open window when riding in a car? Ask the owner of a motorcycle, quipped one enthusiast, noting that there is nothing quite like the feeling of freedom when motorcycling on the open road.

Today, motorcycling is bigger than ever in the U.S. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the number of motorcycles on the road surpassed 12 million in 2018, 2 million more than in 2014.  

Driving the numbers is a profound transformation in motorcycle ownership. Riders are older on average as baby boomers live out their retirement dreams, women become the fastest-growing group of motorcycle owners, and people of all ages look for ways to beat high gas prices, traffic jams and air pollution.

Unfortunately, the leading causes of motorcycle crashes, injuries and deaths haven’t changed: unsafe speed, bad weather and poor road conditions, not wearing a helmet, distracted driving, inexperience and the highest rate of alcohol impairment on the road.  


Riders at Risk: Who Are They?

Here’s a closer look at three groups that are changing the motorcycle culture:

  1. As more baby boomers hit retirement and take up cycling, more older people are dying in motorcycle crashes. Riders 40-plus accounted for 49% of all motorcycle fatalities in 2007 versus 54% in 2016. Fifty-nine percent of all motorcyclists killed or injured in Minnesota in 2017 were people aged 40 and over
  2. Women are the fastest-growing segment of motorcycle owners. While only 8% of motorcycle owners were women in 1998, that percentage shot up to 19% by 2018. This has put pressure on manufacturers to produce size-appropriate motorcycles and protective riding gear for w
  3. Millennials are often choosing high-speed supersport bikes as they enter the motorcycle market. Supersports account for over half of all fatal crashes involving motorcycle drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


Motorcycle Safety Tips: Buying, Insuring and Riding

Keep these safety tips in mind before hitting the road, whether you are buying your first motorcycle, upgrading or just interested in a safer ride:

  1. Buy a bike you can handle. You should be able to comfortably rest both feet flat on the ground when seated. Make sure handlebars and controls are within easy reach. And choose a model you can easily lift on and off the center stand. In other words, if it feels too heavy, it probably is.
  2. Look for antilock brakes (ABS). Antilock brakes – now available on a wide array of models – are a proven lifesaver. ABS helps control steering during an emergency stop, especially in slippery conditions. Now standard on many high-end models, ABS adds only a few hundred dollars to the price of more basic bikes. Plus, some insurance companies will give you a discount if you opt for ABS.
  3. Wear a helmet... The numbers tell it all: Helmets prevent fatal injuries 37% of the time for riders, 41% for passengers. In 2016, that translated into 1,859 fewer motorcycle deaths, according to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another 802 motorcyclists would have survived crashes that year if they had worn helmets.

    In Minnesota alone, nearly 70% of motorcyclists killed in 2017 were NOT wearing a helmet, versus the 26% that were. Our advice: Go with a full-face helmet approved by the Department of Transportation.
  4. …and the right gear. All that’s between you and inclement weather, kamikaze bugs and flying road debris – as well as a serious case of road rash if you should slide out – is quality gear made for motorcycling.

    Choose a leather or other reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants and over-the-ankle footwear. Today’s specially-designed jackets include rugged padding and breathable mesh for greater protection and comfort, even during warm summer days. Also note that bright colors make it easier for drivers to see you. And don’t forget serious eye protection like a helmet visor or goggles.
  5. Take a defensive riding course... Learn basic and advanced defensive riding techniques from courses offeredby the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at nearly 2,700 locations nationwide. By doing so, you might also qualify for an insurance discount, earn purchase credits from select bike manufacturers, and in some states, qualify for a waiver on the written and road tests required for a motorcycle endorsement. 
  6. …And drive defensively. Unprotected on a motorcycle, riders are much more likely to die in a crash – 28 times more likely – than the those in a motor vehicle. Crash risks are also compounded by the difficulty motorists have “seeing” motorcyclists, a problem made worse by epidemic levels of distracted driving.

    Motorcyclists are often taught to drive like they are invisible. Always be on the lookout for cars that suddenly change lanes, turn in front of you, or pull out from parking spots and side streets. Maintaining plenty of following distance is particularly important to a motorcyclist, both to ensure enough time to stop or to react to debris in the road. And don’t invite trouble by driving between two moving cars or on the shoulder to avoid a traffic jam.

  7. Buy adequate insurance. The next best protection in a motorcycle accident after your helmet is ADEQUATE insurance. While every state requires minimum insurance coverage to operate a motorcycle, know that the minimums (often wrongly called "full coverage") will fall seriously short in a bad accident. Bottom line: Talk to your insurance agent about coverage that will be there when you need it, not which policy is the cheapest.

Because motorcycle crashes almost always result in serious injuries and the stakes are so high, legal representation by an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is absolutely essential.
If you, a family member or anyone close to you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, know that SiebenCarey has represented thousands of riders and their passengers over our 60-plus years as Minnesota’s original “Know Your Rights” attorneys. Click here for more information on the legal aspects of motorcycle representation. Or click here for a free evaluation of your case.

Client Reviews

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Deb Colombe

I was involved in a car accident that was complicated at best. God blessed with me Eric Beyer as my attorney. Although it was a long drawn out process between the two insurance companies, Eric was not only my attorney, he was my rock.

Eric is one of the most ethical people I have ever met in my lifetime. He was a constant source of not only information, but of comfort throughout the whole process. I never doubted for one moment that Eric did not have my best interest at heart. He took every word I said seriously and did what he had to do. If I ever have the misfortune of another injury like this, I would go to no one other than Eric Beyer. I will never in my lifetime be able to thank Eric enough or let him know how much I respect him and what a comfort he was and has continued to be for me. God Bless you Eric Beyer.

Chris and Amy Boys

We worked with Art and his team on a personal injury case. We could not have been more pleased with the result. Art and his team were both professional and personable, and were a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend Art and his team if you find yourself in this type of situation.

Jesse Bukal

In need of a personal injury attorney? Well you're if you're reading this you're in the right place. You'd be hard pressed to find more competent attorneys than the ones here at SiebenCarey.

They took my case to trial and an amazing job presenting the facts and fighting for my best interests! Three years ago I was unsure of what my future would bring; now that it's over I can rest a bit easier. With SiebenCarey as my counsel, I believe I had the absolute BEST representation a person could've asked for. I knew that I wanted the absolute best representation when searching for an attorney to handle my case and I most definitely received it.

If you need a personal injury attorney, look no further. Can't recommend highly enough.

Daunne Schaller

I was seriously injured in a car accident on my wedding night and went to SiebenCarey. Being involved in an accident is never fun. The folks at SiebenCarey got us thru the event helping us get on with our lives. They were up front and honest. We knew we could trust them. It’s clear to me why Art has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America and Super Lawyer for 12 years running. Now anytime I know someone who was involved in an accident I refer them to SiebenCarey.

Jeanne Tondryk

Eric W. Beyer helped me through a very difficult time and his professionalism, advice and results from an injury were highly respected. Amidst the personal part of getting myself back to health, his guidance when life was blurry was so appreciated. He listened and then put forth my options honestly and directly which I totally appreciated!

 Was totally satisfied with his hard work and dedication to help me. I'd highly recommend him. Thank you Eric!

Andrea Long

I reached out to SiebenCarey after a partial amputation of my foot following an accident. Art took on my case and without question it was the best decision I ever made. He and his staff did an amazing job and were extremely helpful. I felt like I not only gained an attorney to work on my case, but also a friend & family within those I spoke & dealt with in the office. Going through the legal process can be an agonizing and slow process, especially in the age of COVID. In the end Art presented all the facts and helped me make an informed decision. Understanding I had to decide whether to settle or go to trial, I ultimately chose to settle and couldn’t be more pleased. If I could give Art 20 stars I would.

Rich Huth

Eric Beyer is the best!!! Definitely above a five star rating.

Heather Beal

When someone asks me to refer them to a personal injury lawyer, I immediately give them Jim Carey’s name and contact information at SiebenCarey in Minneapolis. Jim is more than a top-rated, expert personal injury attorney, he is an empathetic and compassionate listener. He sees people, not simply case files. He has represented my friends well by sincerely caring about the immediate and lasting effects that injuries from car accidents, negligence or other circumstances have had on their lives.

Sean Beggs

I was referred to SiebenCarey by a friend after I was involved in a bicycle accident. Jim Carey represented me and throughout the process I was never anxious about the case because he and his team were in constant communication. I knew where we stood and the course of action we were taking which gave me peace of mind throughout my recovery. Everyone I encountered at SiebenCarey from the first phone call until the final resolution treated my case as if it were top priority and they did so respectfully, professionally, and achieved results beyond my expectations. It was a pleasurable experience during a difficult time.

Jody Draper

I have had very long trying Workman's Compensation injury case and Eric Beyer and his assistant Rita Cerny have been totally amazing!! Always so informative and helpful!!

I strongly recommend using Eric as your advocate and personal lawyer!! You will not be disappointed!! Thank you Eric and Rita!! I could not of done this without you!!!

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