Best Safety Tips While Motorcycle Riding During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Feb 9, 2022

1. Keep Your Distance in Social Situations

Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Most motorcycle rallies look different these days, including the mother of them all: Sturgis in South Dakota. Although not everyone is following CDC recommendations, social distancing, masks, and other preventative measures have been common. If you want to remain safe at rallies through 2022 and beyond, you should maintain your distance with people, wash your hands, wear a mask, and keep hand sanitizer on hand. These practices certainly aren’t popular among some of the patrons, but these tips will help keep you from becoming ill. Want more tips? Read the Riders Share's COVID-19 Response and Motorcycle Rental Safety article before renting a motorcycle.

When socializing at your local bar, you can practice safety measures to prevent yourself from too much exposure to viruses. Get a seat on the patio or at a distance from other people so you don’t have to be too close to others. You can remove your mask to have a drink or eat, but keep it up whenever possible.

2. Don’t Let Folks Touch Your Bike

Although it may seem obvious, you shouldn’t let anyone touch your motorcycle or other belongings. You don’t know if they’ve washed their hands, or, used hand sanitizer, and they could transfer icky viruses to your stuff. Instead, encourage people to look at your steed from afar.

3. Stay Away From High Risk Areas

Dense urban areas and cities have seen more exposure to COVID-19 than rural areas. Take advantage of the open road and seek out less populated areas. While you should take precautions everywhere, there are less risky environments for you to take a break in.

This might be the perfect time to explore the Western United States, such as Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming. These states have fewer cases of the virus than Eastern locations. However, you should avoid large cities in any state and focus on the beauty of smaller towns.

 

4. Continue to Maintain Your Motorcycle

Many motorcycle mechanic shops are booked for weeks, so you’ll have to plan ahead if you need some work done to your street bike. Or, if you’re like thousands of other people who are handy, you can tackle some of the upkeep yourself.

You can use The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s checklist to ensure you cover all of your bases. They use an acronym (T-CLOCS) to help remember what needs to be checked. This stands for tires [and wheels], controls, lights [and electronics], oil [and other fluids], chassis, and stands. Much of what they recommend can be done at home in the garage.

·         Tires – Visually inspect tires, wheels, and brakes before every ride. Evaluate the tread depth, wear, and manually verify the tire’s air pressure.

·         Controls – Make sure your handlebar, levers and pedals, cables, and hoses are in good condition before and after each ride. If anything looks bent or cracked, you might need to take your bike to a mechanic.

·         Lights – Ensure your headlamp and turn signals work before every ride. You don’t want to get stuck in fog without the proper lights. You should also check your other electronics and mirrors.

·         Oil – Check your fluid levels before and after a ride. If anything is leaking, it’s going to show up after a ride, so post-ride maintenance is just as important as pre-ride checks.

·         Chassis – You should give your frame, suspension, chain or belt, and other visible parts a once-over as well. If anything looks damaged, you’ll probably have to take your bike to a shop.

·         Stands – Make sure your center and side stands aren’t bent or cracked. They should be replaced quickly if they have any damage.

 By maintaining your bike regularly, you can prevent breakdowns, which is especially important if you opt for a rural route. It can be difficult to find a mechanic who works on your specific type of bike out on the road. Don’t let yourself be caught unaware. Instead, do pre-and post-ride maintenance regularly.

5. Use Defensive Driving Techniques

You always want to avoid the hassle of a wreck— especially in the COVID-19 world. Although not all motorcycle accidents are avoidable, some can be prevented by using defensive driving techniques.

 

You should:

·         Continuously scan the road ahead

·         Stay out of the left lane unless passing

·         Understand how your bike rides and understand its limitations

·         Anticipate the moves of other drivers around you

·         Stay out of the blind spots of cars and trucks

·         Always use your turn signals and look around before turning

·         Yield to other drivers when they look like they will not

These defensive driving tips can help you avoid a wreck, but if someone else does cause your accident, get help as quickly as possible.

6. Don’t Ride While Distracted

Although bikers don’t typically use their cell phones while on the road, it’s still possible to become distracted while riding. You might be focusing on your GPS or adjusting your radio, but anything that takes your eyes and mind off the other cars around you can be dangerous.

If you have to handle something while you are riding, including adjusting your helmet, clothing, or anything on your bike, pull over. Take a moment to focus your full attention on the situation at hand and then take off on your adventure when you’re ready to fully focus on the road.

7. Don’t Drink and Ride

It can be difficult to socialize at many places without having a little to drink. Sometimes you might think you’re okay to hop back on your bike after having a few drinks. However, you should avoid riding after any type of drinking. One mistake can affect the rest of your, or someone else’s life.

8. Ride in Groups, But Take Safety Precautions

Bikers are well known for forming large riding groups and traveling long distances. This can be exhilarating and actually promotes visibility on the road. However, in the time of COVID, you may want to limit the interaction you have with large groups.

If anyone in your family or household rides, it’s safe to go on trips with them. If you want to join in on someone else's riding party, make sure to keep your distance and follow additional safety protocols we’ve listed in this article.

 In addition to preventing exposure to COVID, you can take some other measures to ride safe in a group.

·         Plan the route before you ride. While a pre-ride meeting was always preferred before Covid, it might be best to discuss your route via text. You can share pics of maps and specific destinations on your phone as well.

·         Establish who will be in the lead. There should be one person who is the most experienced rider or who knows the route well that can lead your group. This helps keep everyone in line and prevents confusion.

·         Limit the number of people in your group. Although social distancing may limit your riders, you should restrict the number of group members for safety purposes as well. A maximum of five to seven riders is a good number so the group doesn’t become an obstacle on the road. Larger group size will limit the flexibility you have maneuvering and staying together.

9. Understand the Rules of the Road

Motorcycles must follow the same rules of the road that other motorists use. However, some states have enacted additional laws that apply specifically to motorcycles. It’s best to know the laws that apply to you inside and out to prevent yourself from being pulled over, or worse, getting a ticket.

Attorney at Law Magazine offers a State-by-State Guide to Motorcycle Laws that can help you on your adventure throughout the United States. If you are venturing into a new state, make sure you look up their specific laws for helmets, eyewear, and more.

·         Helmet Laws – According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 18 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws. Twenty nine states have laws that cover some riders, typically riders under the age of 18. Only three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) don’t have requirements to wear helmets. Want more insight, read the Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State article.

·         Eye Protection Laws – Some states require protective eyewear or windshields on motorcycles. This protects against oncoming debris that can get into your eyes, and they also deflect harsh airflow.

·         Passenger Laws – Many states don’t have restrictions on passengers, but states like Washington, Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas prohibit passengers younger than five years old on motorcycles. When riding during COVID, make sure you only have passengers you know well or who live with you so you aren’t exposing yourself to the virus.

·         Daytime Running Lights Laws – Many states require motorcycles to use headlights day and night. Using daytime headlights can reduce crashes by up to 5.7%. Although only 18 states currently require that headlines are used at all times, other states are following suit.

 If you plan ahead and know which states you’re going through, make sure you look up specific motorcycle laws to be diligent and avoid getting pulled over.

10. Use Caution When Passing Other Vehicles

Motorcycles have a high level of maneuverability, and it’s often fun to zig zag between cars. However, overtaking other vehicles can be dangerous, especially if the other cars and trucks can’t see you well.

When overtaking or passing cars on the road, let your leader go first and travel one at a time. If you’re on a two-lane road, make sure you have enough space to make the distance before an oncoming car bears down on you. Don’t pass more than one car at a time, and don’t go over the speed limit.

11. If You Get Separated, Continue on Your Route

If you’re traveling in a group and get separated, just continue on the agreed upon route. This often happens in heavy traffic. It would be dangerous to text while riding or call your leader while on the bike. Instead, keep going unless you’re unsure of where to go. If you need to stop for directions, pull over on the side of the road somewhere safe or get off at an exit and stop at a gas station.

12. Be Aware of Your Skill Level

You will build your skills on a motorcycle as you ride. However, you should always be aware of your ability and how it will impact your ride.

If you are thinking of riding on a day when the weather isn’t the finest, you may reconsider if you’re not comfortable if it gets wet. Roads get slippery and it can be difficult to see even in a light mist. If you ride early in the morning or when humidity is high, your vision may be foggy. Use your headlights and watch out for deer.

If you are riding in a group, you should also be aware of the skill levels of your fellow riders. You shouldn’t push anyone past their comfort level. It’s best to only ride in conditions that are acceptable for the person with the least experience in your group.

13. If You’re Not Feeling Well, Reschedule

With the weather getting rough, it’s understandable that you’ll want to get on your street bike whenever possible. However, you should only do that if you’re feeling well. Take your temperature, assess your health, and look for symptoms of COVID before heading out the door. You should also ask other riders in your group if they’ve been exposed or had symptoms.

Common symptoms of COVID include:

·         High fever

·         Chills

·         Cough

·         Difficulty breathing

·         Fatigue

·         Muscle aches

·         Sore body

·         Headache

·         Loss of taste or smell

·         Sore throat

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should go to a clinic or call your doctor. Reschedule your ride. You won’t enjoy it much if you’re not feeling well anyway.

14. You Can Still Enjoy a Ride Across America In the Time of COVID

By following these tips, you can enjoy riding in any state during the pandemic. Avoid exposure, but you can still interact with people and enjoy your ride.

Author Biography:

Attorney Jonathan Damashek is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. in New York City. He helps the victims of personal injury accidents like motorcycle wrecks, fatal crashes, and other incidents to obtain compensation from insurance companies that often try to delay or deny valid claims. He is also interested in helping motorcycle riders remain safe while enjoying their favorite pastime.