Riding a motorcycle is dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, per mile traveled, a motorcyclist was 28 times is likely to die in an accident than a car driver.
Some of the most common causes include:
- Cars making left-hand turns
- Lane splitting
- Collision with a median or fixed object
- Roadway conditions
However, with the proper safety precautions, motorcycles can be a thrilling way to travel. We put together some tips for new riders on how to safely get started on a bike.
In case you get injured in an accident, our experienced legal team offers free consultations in our offices in Kingston and Poughkeepsie. We have obtained one of the largest settlements in a motorcycle personal injury case in Ulster County history; we push back against insurance companies on the behalf of our clients.
Getting a license
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles requires that motorcyclists have a “Class M or Class MJ” driver license or learner permit.
Before you get a license, you first have to apply for a motorcycle permit at a DMV office, by taking a written test, paying a small fee, and presenting identifying information. The written test is based on the information here. There are offices in Kingston, Saugerties, New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Beacon, Goshen, Marlboro, Middletown, Ellenville and more.
Once you have a permit, you can begin practicing for a road test. The DMV recommends that you have at least 30 hours of practice before a test, “with or without formal instruction,” including 10 hours of practice in traffic. One way to gain some experience is through a licensed New York State Motorcycle Basic Program Rider Course. There are several options in the Mid-Hudson Valley, including via SUNY Ulster, the SmartRider Motorcycle Safety Program in Poughkeepsie, Columbia Greene Community College, and the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh.
Once you take and pass a motorcycle road test, you’ll be licensed by New York State to ride a motorcycle!
Picking a bike
As a new rider, it’s important to buy a bike that fits your lifestyle and experience level. You should take the time to consult with experienced riders that you trust.
The Motorcycle Legal Foundation has a great guide for first-time motorcycle buyers on their site. Some of their suggested motorcycle features include:
- Looking for an engine less than 600cc
- Anti-lock braking system
- Proper seat height and inseam length
- Proper handlebar height
Once you own a motorcycle, you have a duty to reasonably maintain it, by taking actions like:
Cleaning exposed components to prevent debris accumulation
Keeping the chain lubricated to prevent snapping or locking
Maintain and replace fuel hoses to prevent leakage or fuel system failure
In addition to having the right training and a bike that suits you, accidents can still happen. It’s during accidents that your gear can come into play.
- A properly fitted helmet: can reduce the severity of traumatic brain and facial injuries
- A synthetic jacket and/or vest: can reduce the severity of road rash
- Riding pants: can reduce the severity of road rash
- Riding boots: Can reduce the likelihood of ankle and foot injuries
- Gloves: can reduce the severity of road rash
- Visibility aids: Reflective elements on your clothing can help drivers see you coming
Any discussion of the risks involving motorcycles ends up on liability and insurance.
Motorcyclists are far more likely to get into accidents than car drivers, and the injuries tend to be more severe.
The first thing to remember is that unlike an automobile driver, a motorcyclist is not covered by “no-fault” insurance in the State of New York, which often comes as a shock to accident victims and their families.
If a regular driver is injured in a crash, and they have lost wages or medical expenses, regardless of whether or not the accident is their fault, their insurance carrier will promptly pay up to $50,000. If the victim’s injuries are more expensive than $50,000 and require negotiations or litigation with another party’s insurance company, that initial money can help keep the victim financially afloat for a while.
No-fault insurance doesn’t apply to motorcyclists. If a motorcyclist has to miss work or has expensive medical costs after an accident, they have no safety net. If the accident was caused by another party, it’s important to quickly get a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer to ascertain if damages can be recovered.
To help mitigate this, you may want to consider having good health insurance and supplemental insurance. Health insurance may reduce the sudden out-of-pocket expenses of a catastrophic accident, and supplemental insurance can cover the difference between the other party’s insurance coverage and your actual costs; i.e., if other party has only $50,000 of coverage, but your lost wages and injuries are worth $500,000, the supplemental insurance would provide the other $450,000.
The Most Popular Places to Ride
After all of that preparation, you’re ready to ride! If you’re looking for some places to cruise, check out our Ultimate Guide to Motorcycling in New York State. Here’s a map of the most popular rides in the state: