Riding a motorcycle, like most thrilling activities, comes with its own set of dangers. The Emergency Department at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center alone treated 166 motorcycle-related cases during fiscal year 2013. Fifteen of those patients died from their injuries.
Carol Bullard, M.S.N., R.N., performance improvement coordinator for trauma/burn services at Wake Forest Baptist, says there are ways to minimize the risks of motorcycle accidents.
Bullard, who is passionate about both nursing and motorcycling, teaches motorcycle safety classes throughout the Southeast. She shares the following tips to keep both solo and group riders safe:
Be prepared for anything to happen: One of the best things you can do as a motorcyclist is run through different "what if" scenarios before traveling, i.e. "What if a vehicle is at the intersection?" and "What if a dog runs out in front of the motorcycle?"
Wear a helmet: Make sure it fits well and meets Department of Transportation standards.
Wear protective clothing: Closed-toed, over-the-ankle shoes can prevent ankle/foot injuries. Long pants and sleeves, particularly those that are armored and/or made out of leather, protect from sunburn and can minimize road rash should an accident occur. Reflective gear helps other motorists spot you on the road.
Be aware of road and weather conditions: Maintain safe speeds, exercise caution when approaching gravel or slick surfaces and always carry rain gear.
Communicate: Before a ride, inform someone that you are headed out, what route you plan to take, and when you anticipate returning. Before a group ride, inform fellow motorcyclists of any health problems you may have or medications you may take. This impacts health care in the emergency setting should an accident occur.
Take a safety course: Whether new to motorcycling or experienced, consider taking a motorcycle safety course. They are offered by community colleges, motorcycle dealers and law enforcement agencies and will provide you with in-depth riding techniques that will enhance your performance as a defensive driver.
Have a game plan: On a group ride, members should know who is responsible for calling 911, directing traffic and administering first aid in the event of an accident. The better the medical attention a victim receives prior to the arrival of emergency responders, the better the outcome.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center