It’s official. Washington is a driver’s nightmare. It currently ranks third in WalletHub’s Worst U.S. states to drive in. The study looked at various factors, including congestion compared to road quality, gas prices, safety, vehicle ownership, and access to vehicles and servicing. Washington is seen as one of the worst because of its high gas prices, high car theft rates, low road quality, and high levels of traffic congestion. What’s worse is that the state Department of Transportation head in the state said that there’s no way to solve the traffic problem in Washington.
Because of the traffic issues plaguing the state, people resort to using motorcycles. After all, these vehicles can weave through traffic, making it easier for you to get to your destination. However, riding a bike in U.S. roads, especially in states like Washington, can get dangerous. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), while the number of motorcyclist fatalities in the country dropped by 5% in 2018, the figure is still significantly high at 4,985.
When it comes to specific states, Washington is one of the most dangerous for motorcycle drivers. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), motorcycles made up 15% of all fatalities and 19% of severe injuries in motor accidents. This is despite the fact that motorcycle drivers only comprise 3% of road users in the state. About one in five motorcycle collisions result in a severe injury or fatality, too.
Motorcycle riding is a fast and efficient way to get around town. However, it can get dangerous if you’re not aware of the hazards. Here are the most dangerous ones and how you can avoid them.
Not Having Enough Gear
One of the biggest mistakes a rider can make is not gearing up before a trip, even for short ones. You might think that a quick run to the store won’t require a helmet, but that piece of gear can mean the difference between life and death. In 2017, over 1,908 motorcyclists that died weren’t wearing a helmet, according to the National Safety Commission. Helmets are also found to be almost 40% effective in preventing fatal injuries in motorcycle crashes.
Wear a full-coverage helmet. This means it should shield your whole face, with a visor and reinforcement that protects not only your head but also your jaw and chin. Look for a Department of Transportation sticker on your helmets as well to ensure you’re getting quality protection. If possible, use elbow and knee pads to protect your joints from potential trauma during an accident.
Your Bike of Choice
Your choice of bike can also increase your risk of crashes. According to recent studies, supersport motorcycles, which are optimized for speed, acceleration, and braking on paved roads have four times higher death rates than all other bike types.
This is because people use them on the road as if they were in a racetrack, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) vice president for research Anne McCartt. Speed was a significant factor in supersport motorcycle deaths. If you’re going to use a supersport bike, make sure you have enough training to maneuver it. Ensure you’re always following the area’s speed limits, even if it is tempting to rev your bike up on the open road.
Trucks, especially the large trailer type ones, are notorious for being involved in accidents with motorbikes. This is because they have a lot of blind spots that not even their wide mirrors can cover. This, in turn, might cause them to make turns or swerves without knowing that there’s a motorcycle beside them.
Some trucks also carry loads that are poorly secured, causing some of them to wobble around or outright fall onto the road, leaving motorcycle riders behind them with little to no time to react to the hazard. If you’re on the highway, steer clear of trucks. Don’t be beside or behind one. Change lanes if you can. Even if their drivers are responsible, the truck’s blind spots are just way too risky to be in. And if you do get into a collision, make sure to call an expert motorcycle accident lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Edge Breaks and Expansion Joints
These two parts of the road are a nightmare for riders everywhere. An edge break happens when two traffic lanes have different heights. This makes changing lanes risky and complicated. Expansion joints, on the other hand, connects two sections of a road. This creates an uneven metal surface that also gets slippery when wet. Make sure to adhere to your road’s speed limits and familiarize yourself with these areas to ensure that you can avoid them or at least slow down when you have to approach them.
With the traffic situation being so difficult in the U.S., getting a fast and relatively more affordable motorcycle can be a smart choice. However, using this vehicle can make you more vulnerable to a variety of hazards on the road. Use these entries as a guide to stay safe and aware during every journey you take with your bike.