Not everyone loves to ride, but if you’re one of the many motorcycle enthusiasts, then you know that the experience is like nothing else — especially if you’re just learning or your bike has been in storage for awhile. Motorcycles are fun, efficient, and just plain cool. Riding can feel like freedom, which can also feel like invincibility. We are not invincible, however. In fact, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than someone in a car. Older riders are at even greater risk. Statistics suggest that those over age 60 are three times more likely to end up in the hospital after a crash than younger riders. Whether this is your first time on a bike or just the first time in a long time, safety is not only essential, it’s attainable – especially if you follow speed limits and remember to stay sober before your ride. Enrolling in a motorcycle safety course can be a wise first step. These courses teach the basics to beginners, but they’re also a great way to learn about advanced techniques such as emergency maneuvers or about new features you may not be familiar with if you’ve been off the road for a few years. As an added bonus, approved safety courses may make you eligible for insurance discounts. You may also learn the importance of driving defensively. A recent study found that 60 percent of car-motorcycle accidents were the fault of the car. Drivers are distracted, so you need to stay extra alert and keep safe distances to increase your reaction time. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation lists thousands of course locations around the country. Bike selection is also important. While it might be tempting to buy the coolest bike you can afford or borrow a friend’s ride, a bike should fit you properly if you expect to ride it safely. Your feet should rest flat on the ground when you’re seated, and the handlebars and all the controls should be easy to reach. The shape should allow you to easily get on and off the center stand, and the bike shouldn’t feel too heavy. It should also be noted that today’s bikes are built differently than the bikes of old. Even small-displacement engines can be fast and powerful; much more so than they were even just 10 years ago. Know what else has changed for the better? The availability of antilock brakes. ABS give you steering control during an emergency stop, and prevents you from locking up the brakes in a panic. This is a feature that comes standard in many high-end models and adds minimal cost to basic bikes. It’s definitely worth considering. When it comes to gear, dress to be seen and to protect your body. You’ll be hit with bugs, road debris, and wind. Leather or some kind of reinforced jacket, plus pants, gloves, and footwear that also covers your ankles is recommended — even when it’s warm out. Many materials have built-in ventilation and/or breathable mesh to make riding in warm weather more comfortable. Remember, too, that on a bike, you’re not always easy to see. Bright colors will help make you visible to others on the road. No motorcycle safety discussion is complete without mentioning the importance of helmets. Studies have shown that riders without helmets are 40 percent more likely to die from a head injury and three times more likely to injure the brain than those with helmets. It’s a simple matter of having a layer of protection versus none at all. Being in an open vehicle puts you at an instant disadvantage when in traffic with a bunch of cars and trucks. Do yourself a favor by wearing a shield around your head and face. Helmets are lighter, stronger, and more comfortable than they’ve ever been before. If you have any questions about this topic, have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or have lost a loved one in a KY motorcycle crash, trust your case to the attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. Founded and overseen by a lawyer who rides (his favorite bike is his Harley Davidson CVO Ultra Classic), the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm has represented motorcyclists who have been injured in a wide variety of situations. We have over 15 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.