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The underlying dangers behind many motorcycle myths

While the cold, wet weather may make it difficult to imagine taking your motorcycle out on the streets of New Orleans, it's never too early in the year to begin thinking about safety. This is especially true given that spring is in the not-too-distant future and the sudden appearance of motorcyclists on the roads seems to take drivers by surprise every year.

One of the problems with motorcycle safety, unfortunately, is all the myths that still surround it. If you're an experienced motorcyclist, you likely already know the truths behind the misconceptions, but for beginners or more casual bikers, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Given that automobile drivers already make it difficult enough to stay safe on motorcycles, it's time to learn the actual truth behind these false — but long-lived — motorcycle safety myths.

Common motorcycling misconceptions

Whether you ride your motorcycle for fun or as your main mode of transportation, you've likely heard a lot of conflicting advice and half-truths, for example, people who believe bikers wear leather because it looks cool, as opposed to wearing it for the protection it provides against cuts, scrapes, abrasions and even wind chill. While some of the myths are fairly harmless, others can seriously affect the safety of motorcyclists, so it's important for you to learn the facts behind the fabrications. Among the more typical — and dangerous — falsehoods are:

  • Full-faced helmets restrict your visibility.
  • Larger bikes are better for beginners.
  • City streets and back roads are safer than interstates.
  • Loud exhaust pipes save lives.

Many riders believe — incorrectly — that full-faced helmets obscure peripheral vision, but the safety standards by the Department of Transportation require all helmets to provide a field of view of at least 210 degrees. In fact, full-faced helmets not only better protect your face in the event of a crash, they shield against the elements and distractions. Another misconception is that bigger bikes are better for beginners, when in fact the opposite is true; bikes weighing less than 500 pounds are typically easier for newer riders to maneuver and control.

Motorcyclists may have heard that smaller streets are safest — possibly due to a belief that lower speeds mean less damage — but again, statistics show the opposite. Over 90 percent of motorcycle crashes involving a passenger vehicle occur on non-interstates. This is partly because the worst motorcycle dangers are less common on highways, which have wider lanes, no opposing traffic and better flow.

Lastly, loud exhaust pipes do little to increase awareness, as even when drivers do hear them, it is the drivers who are behind the bike that do and they can already see the motorcycle.

The most dangerous myth of all

Perhaps the most hazardous misconception is the assumption that vehicle drivers will see bikers and cyclists. Unfortunately, drivers far too often simply overlook motorcyclists, and the motorcyclists are the ones who pay. It may not seem fair, but the safest course of action that many motorcycle enthusiasts promote is to drive under the assumption that other drivers on the road won't see you. As such, many motorcyclists ride as near to the dividing lines on roadways as possible and make sure to stay out of vehicles' blind spots.

Riding your motorcycle defensively at all times is your best bet for staying safe and avoiding an accident. Of course, no matter how defensively you ride, you cannot control or even necessarily foresee the behavior of other drivers on the streets of New Orleans or the surrounding areas in Louisiana. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer serious injuries or worse because of a driver's negligence, there are legal resources in the Gretna area with experience in motorcycle accidents who can offer their insight and support.

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Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC
1101 Westbank Expressway
Gretna, LA 70053

Phone: 504-433-5550
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