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General motorcycle tips on avoiding personal injury

Riding a motorcycle is arguably one of the most liberating experiences an individual can have. Ironically, some of the qualities of motorcycle riding that makes it so exhilarating are also some of its most dangerous liabilities. Simply put, motorcycles are not equipped with many of the safety devices that we take for granted in cars, trucks and SUVs. There are no seat belts to prevent a motorcyclist from being thrown from his or her bike during the collision. There are also no airbags that can deploy to engulf a motorcyclist in a protective cocoon.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a motorcycle safety brochure that it hopes will inspire motorcyclists to adopt certain safety measures aimed at preventing their deaths and injuries. The following are some of the recommended safety steps:

-- Wear a helmet. Yes, it's true that adults do not have to wear a helmet in Ohio while operating a motorcycle. However, a closed face helmet has been shown to significantly reduce head trauma and other facial injuries associated with motorcycle accidents.

-- Always keep a safe distance. While it is true that motorcycles require less stopping distance than other vehicles, following too closely, weaving in and out of traffic or otherwise placing yourself too close to other vehicles unnecessarily puts you at a greater risk of having an accident. Maintaining a safe "buffer zone" between you and other vehicles allows other drivers to see you and may afford you precious additional seconds to avoid a collision.

-- Dress appropriately. Leather boots, jackets, gloves and pants can help you avoid injuries such as road rash if you are thrown from your motorcycle. Also, sturdy footwear is helpful in preventing burns to your feet from exhaust pipes.

-- Know your weather conditions. Having only two wheels makes motorcycles inherently less stable than most vehicles. Wet and icy conditions should be avoided if at all possible.

Ohio motorcyclists need to know that adopting additional safety practices is still no guarantee that they will avoid an accident. Motorists distracted by electronic devices or impaired by drugs or alcohol are a regrettable yet constant danger to all motorcycle operators.

If you have been injured as a result of a preventable accident while riding your motorcycle, you may be entitled to sue the responsible party to recover compensation for your economic losses.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Motorcycle Safety" Oct. 30, 2014

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