Separating motorcycle myth from reality

Our Blog | August 8, 2018

Maybe you have been riding for years. Or maybe you recently discovered the thrill. You have heard stories of accidents and narrow escapes — and probably received advice about how to stay safe on the road.

Some so-called words of wisdom have been shared from rider to rider over the years. But are they true? Our Sacramento motorcycle collision lawyers help explain the myths from the reality so you can remain safe when you ride.

Loud pipes save lives?

One controversial tip is that it is safer to have the loudest possible exhaust pipes on your bike. This way, other drivers will hear you coming and be less likely to pull out in front of you or switch lanes into your path. This seems to make sense. The roar of a motorcycle is hard to ignore.

However, the noise from your exhaust pipes is directed behind you. Drivers ahead of you may not hear your rumbling pipes, or they may be confused about where it is coming from. Cars these days are made to muffle the noise of traffic. Sound systems in cars may prevent drivers from hearing your bike no matter how loud it is. Lastly, thundering pipes may prevent you from hearing important cues such as a car driver honking or accelerating into your path.

On a motorcycle, it is more important to be seen than heard. Practice defensive driving to stay highly visible and out of harm’s way.

Busting the motorcycle myths

Don’t let misinformation endanger you and your passengers. These facts about operating a motorcycle challenge some of the common myths.

  • Full-face helmets do not restrict your vision. By law, full-faced helmets must meet Department of Transportation safety standards. This includes a 210-degree field of view. You can protect your head and face without compromising visibility.
  • A bigger bike is not necessarily safer. Many beginners opt for large motorcycles, believing the windshield and extra bulk will protect them in a crash. But bigger bikes are much harder to turn, stop or maneuver in a crisis, increasing the risk of a serious crash.
  • It’s not safer to take the back roads and side streets. About 6 out of 10 motorcycle accidents occur on urban roadways, while less than 1 in 10 occur on interstate highways. Speeds are lower on city roads, but the threats are greater, such as cross-traffic.
  • Don’t be too quick to lay the bike down. Experts say the best bet is to stay on the motorcycle and maneuver away from a crash. If you lay down the bike you can slide straight into danger, with no way to change course. The driver could swerve into your path after you go to the pavement. Or you may get run over by your own bike. A collision will be bad no matter what, but it is almost always better to go over the car than under it.

You may disagree with some of this advice. There is always a fellow rider who will swear the myths are true. Just keep an open mind (and open eyes!). It may save your life.