At M&S, we are big on safety, and that includes motorcycle safety. But safety requires some study and practice. We like to say that “safe riding is no accident!” We urge our biking clients to read up on and follow the strictest biking safety guidelines. But unfortunately, there are many FALSE biking safety tips out there. And some myths never die no matter how much evidence accumulates to debunk them. For example, remember when they used to tell you that eating before you swim was a no-no because it could cause you to cramp up and drown? Turned out to be false! Still, many people still believe it to be true.
Here are the most common and enduring myths about motorcycle safety. Share these with any friends or family members who bike:
MYTH 1. Full-Face Helmets Restrict Your Visibility
This is totally false. The Department of Transportation’s safety standards require helmets to provide at least a 210-degree field of view. This means it is impossible for your peripheral vision to be affected (unless your eyes are on the side of your head). The full helmet is safer not only because it protects more of your head and face, but also because the visor on a full-face helmet protects your face and eyes from falling distraction such as rain and bugs. Fewer distractions mean fewer accidents.
MYTH 2. If You’re About To Crash, It’s Safest to Lay Your Bike Down
Biker bars often feature a guy who tells the story of how he deliberately laid down his bike to avoid a car that suddenly pulled out in front of him. That guy of course wants his audience to be amazed at his quick wits, daring, and skill. In the early days of motorcycling, before anti lock brakes, there might have been some truth to the myth that laying down your bike was at times the best way to avoid a collision. But nowadays it is difficult to imagine a scenario where braking and steering would not be safer than simply laying the bike down. Today’s bikes are so well designed and built that braking and swerving will almost always keep you safer than laying your bike down. If you have time to lay down your bike, you have time to brake and swerve. Don’t lay down your bike.
MYTH 3. Leather may be cool, but it’s no safer than other fabrics.
Actually, wearing leather on a bike is advisable from a safety perspective. Sure it looks cool, but it also protects your skin from abrasions if you go down. It won’t save your life, but it might minimize skin damage or even scarring if you go down.
MYTH 4. Loudness Saves Lives
Some bikers – usually those with loud pipes – proclaim — loudly of course — that their noisy pipes make them safer. After all, their ear-catching pipes will catch the attention of nearby motorists, right? Well maybe, but not the ones that matter. The exhaust pipe’s roar is directed rearward so that it’s unlikely a driver approaching from the front – the one most likely to collide with you — will hear you coming. Especially if his windows are rolled up and he has the radio on. Forget about loud pipes. You are better off trying to be seen rather than heard.
MYTH 5. Size matters: A Bigger Bike Is a Safer Bike.
Supporters of this myth base their claims on two “facts”: (1) a big bike is more visible and audible, and thus is less likely to be ignored by other motorists, and (2) a big, powerful bike can accelerate its way out of trouble in an emergency. Although there may be some truth to these contentions, there are other facts that act as counterweights to their supposed safety value: A smaller bike is quicker to handle, maneuver, steer and brake, so that you can weave and brake your way out of trouble more easily, if need be. And while it is a rare occurrence that accelerating will help you avoid an accident, quick braking and steering can and do save lives on a regular basis. Smaller is safer. Really.
MYTH 6. Riding on roads and streets is safer than on the Interstate
This myth is based on the fact that speeds are higher on the Interstate. More speed, more danger, right? Not really. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 90 percent of all crashes between a motorcycle and a four-wheel vehicle occurred on non-interstate roads. That’s because despite the higher speeds on the Interstates, the traffic there is smoother, steadier, and more predictable. More important, Interstates have no intersections and no oncoming traffic, which are the two things that cause most crashes with motorcycles.
STAY SAFE ON YOUR BIKE. Follow real safety rules, not fake ones.