According to a 2013 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), mile for mile, motorcyclists were 26 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than individuals in a passenger car. The same data showed that motorcycle riders were five times as likely to sustain injuries in a traffic accident compared to occupants of passenger vehicles.
This increased likelihood of accident-related injuries and fatalities necessitates a heightened awareness for motorcyclists when traveling busy roadways alongside trucks, sedans, and SUVs. Although there is no one cause of motorcycle accidents, there are some common scenarios and hazards that contribute to their frequency.
Fortunately, motorcyclists can help avoid injury-causing accidents by keeping safety in the forefront of their minds before ever getting on their bike and while navigating roadways.
Obtaining Your Motorcycle License
Motorcyclists must carry a special license in order to legally drive on the road. To obtain this license, most states require drivers to pass a series of tests demonstrating their knowledge of on-the-road procedures and practical skills as a driver.
In Tennessee, riders must complete a multiple-choice written test as well as a road test. If you pass both tests and pay the required fee, you can obtain one of several motorcycle licenses available in Tennessee.
Consider a Motorcycle Rider Education Program
Although not required, the Department of Transportation (DOT) highly recommends that all motorcyclists complete a state-specific Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP). In addition to the safety-promoting knowledge gained, Tennessee motorcycle riders get added benefits when they complete this training program like:
- Not having to take the DMV multiple choice or roadway test
- Insurance discounts
- Reimbursement for cost of course by select manufacturers
- Increased confidence and improvement in riding abilities
Classes are usually held from March to December at training facilities across the state. Even though an MREP is not mandatory to obtain a license, it does equip motorcyclists with the skills and abilities needed to drive safely and identify common hazards that lead to accidents.
Abide by Helmet Laws
Even with all the safety training and required skillset needed to safely operate a motorcycle, accidents are bound to happen. One of the most effective ways for motorcyclists to protect themselves from potentially fatal head and neck injuries, in the event of an accident, is by wearing a helmet.
Each state has different motorcycle helmet laws. In Tennessee, all motorcycle drivers and their passengers must wear a helmet at all times. There is one exception to Tennessee’s mandatory helmet law:
If a driver is operating a three-wheeled bike with an enclosed cab that weighs less than 1,500 pounds, then the universal helmet law does not apply.
In 2015, a bill was brought to the state Senate that sought to change the required helmet laws for certain drivers. This bill proposed that drivers who were 21 years or older and who were not part of the state’s TennCare Medicaid program would be given the option to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. A number of groups opposed the bill, including AAA, and it failed to pass the Senate.
Prevent Accidents Before They Happen
Ideally, motorcyclists could enjoy riding their bikes on open roadways without the prospect of being involved in an accident. Unfortunately, on Tennessee’s busy highways and interstates, accidents are going to happen. In the wake of an accident, motorcyclists often have to navigate complex personal injury claims as they seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional stress.
Before getting on your bike, make sure to keep safety standards in mind and always operate your motorcycle legally. Although accidents are unavoidable, you can make smart safety decisions that decrease your likelihood of being involved in one and reduce the chance of being critically injured.