Though the popular saying might go something like, “April showers bring May flowers,” here in the Midwest, what really comes out when the showers are gone are all the boats and motorcycles from their winter storage. In fact, more than 27 million motorcyclists and 88 million recreational boaters are expected to hit the highways and waterways across the country this year! To help keep you safer on both land and sea this summer, we worked with Integrity Insurance to put together a list of the five best boat and motorcycle safety tips. Check them out!
Don’t Drink and Drive
According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) traffic safety report, of the 4,323 motorcyclists killed in 2011, 33% (1,426) were under the influence of alcohol. For recreational boaters, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading contributing factor of fatal accidents, accounting for 17% of all recreational boating deaths in 2012. Make sure you’re aware of your state’s driving and boating blood alcohol content limits, and if you’re above the legal limit, give the keys to a sober driver, call a cab, or wait to sober up – anything except drinking and driving!
Wear Proper Safety Devices
According to estimates from the NHTSA, in 2011, wearing a helmet saved more than 1,600 riders’ lives, and another 700+ may have survived had they been wearing one. However, in addition to wearing a helmet, motorcyclists should always wear the proper gear in case of an accident or skid. Wearing leather clothing, nonskid-soled boots, and leather gloves will all help protect you from injury if you were to fall off your bike.
For boaters, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2012, nearly 71% of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, with 84% of those victims not wearing a life jacket. Before going boating, make sure you’re aware of the federal and state regulations regarding the usage of life jackets, but don’t forget that staying safe has no age limit.
Have the Proper Licenses
Unfortunately, many motorcycle and boating accidents can be attributed to the driver not having the proper licenses or receiving the proper training to operate a boat or motorcycle. In fact, according the NHTSA’s traffic safety report, 22% of riders involved in fatal crashes in 2011 didn’t have a valid motorcycle license. In addition, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, approximately 86% of recreational
boating deaths in 2012 occurred on vessels where the operator had not received formal boating safety instruction. Before hopping on your boat or motorcycle this summer, make sure you have all the proper licenses needed to operate it. If a license isn’t necessary, or if you already have one, try taking a course to learn of any new rules, as well as refreshing your memory about the current ones.
Get Inspected After Storage
Much like your driving skills being a little rusty after a long winter break, your boat and motorcycle can often use a few tune-ups as well. To ensure your bike is ready to go after a winter in storage, run through a quick checklist of things to look at on your bike. Are there cracks in the rubber of your tires? Does your belt or chain look damaged? Do you have the proper fluid levels? These are just a few things to look for. For boaters, along with checking the engine mechanics and proper fluid levels, are your emergency flares up to date? Are your navigation lights operable? Does your radio work? Asking these questions and running through a checklist are great ways to ensure your motorcycle and boat are 100% and ready to ride this summer.
Always Have an Emergency Kit
Though there are plenty of ways you can prevent an accident from happening, sometimes they’re inevitable. However, when an accident does happen, make sure you’re prepared with an emergency safety kit. For the most useful kit, always include some tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.), spare fuses, a flashlight, first aid kit, emergency flares, small food/water supply, and any other special parts/pieces for your boat or motorcycle. In addition to the items just mentioned, for an emergency kit for your boat, you can even include an emergency raft, signal mirror, lighter/matches, and water purification tablets.