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Be safe and smart: Riding a motorcycle in CA

For a minute, it seemed like motorcycle safety was on everyone's mind in California. The lane-splitting bill - that has now been put on hold until the next legislative session - had both motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists, arguing about the possible new law.

Whether or not lane-splitting is a good idea, when you're riding a motorcycle in California, there are some steps you can take to help make sure you are as safe as possible on the road.

MotorcycleSafety.pngWear a helmet

One of the best decisions you can make when you get on your motorcycle is also mandated by law. In California, everyone on a motorcycle is required to wear a helmet. The law has been in effect since 1992, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The reason is simple: helmets save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 1,700 motorcyclists' lives were saved across the country in 2012 because they decided to wear a helmet.

Ride defensively

It's no surprise that when a car and a motorcycle collide, the motorcyclist is at a much higher risk of suffering injuries or even getting killed. In fact, the NHTSA says that motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than people in cars.

As a result, it is a good idea to take care of yourself first when riding a motorcycle. When you're on the road, be aware of the other vehicles around you and don't assume that they have noticed you. Be particularly cautious when you're driving in or near another vehicle's blind spot.

You can think about driving defensively as staying a couple steps ahead of the other drivers. For instance, if someone suddenly slams on the brakes, you have left extra room between your vehicles to stop safely. While you won't be able to avoid every dangerous situation, riding defensively and looking out for yourself first could pay off.

Follow the rules of the road

Of course, you will want to abide by all traffic laws when you are riding your motorcycle, as well. An obvious example is to always follow the speed limit when on the road.

In addition, you never want to ride if you are under the influence of alcohol or any drugs that might affect your ability to drive safely. Almost 30 percent of all motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2012 had blood alcohol concentrations above the legal limit, according to the NHTSA.

Attend a motorcycle safety course

The California Highway Patrol offers the California Motorcyclist Safety Program to all motorcyclists to ensure they know how to ride safely. The course is required for everyone under 21 years of age, but the CHP recommends that all motorcyclists take a safety class, regardless of their age.

Do you have any other helpful tips for staying safe when on a motorcycle?

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