Do’s and Don’ts of Riding a Motorcycle in California

Do’s and Don’ts of Riding a Motorcycle in California: Tips for New Motorcycle Riders

Get the right bike and follow traffic rules

Summer is quickly approaching, which means more motorcycles are on the road. If you are a new rider in California, you have probably been waiting for the perfect weather to get on your bike. But before you get too comfortable, remember that motorcycle riding has many risks. One accident could leave you seriously injured or worse. 

These are the do’s and don’ts of motorcycle riding and tips for new motorcycle riders in California. For more safety tips, contact our experienced motorcycle accident lawyer at Sycamore Accident Lawyers at (909) 703-2420. 


Do: Get Properly Licensed and Trained

After you select the right bike, you must pass written and on-cycle skills tests administered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to obtain an M1 or M2 license to ride legally in California. 

One of the best ways to prepare for riding is to take a motorcycle safety course. Whether you are a true beginner or more advanced, these courses teach valuable skills that can prepare you for any situation. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers several courses depending on what the rider wants to learn. Taking a course will also likely lower your insurance rates. 


Don’t: Assume You’re Visible

Many riders may encounter distracted driving

It may sound odd, but the NHTSA recommends that motorcyclists should pretend they are invisible to other drivers. It’s common for motorcyclists to be overlooked by other drivers, especially at intersections where most motorcycle-vehicle collisions happen. Always approach with caution and be ready to react.

Visibility is especially important when riding at night or in poor weather conditions. Motorcycle riders should wear reflective or bright clothing to be more easily seen. Riders should also turn on their headlights and use their horns when their well-being is at risk.  


Do: Wear a Helmet and Protective Gear

Wear all the riding gear all the time (ATGATT) to protect yourself against serious injury. 

Under California’s motorcycle helmet law, all motorcyclists and passengers must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant safety helmet. A full-face helmet is the safest option and offers the most protection. 

But don’t forget to wear additional safety gear, such as a leather or other heavy-duty jacket, long pants, high-top boots or shoes, and gloves. All riders should also wear eyeglasses and ear protection, such as soft ear plugs. 


Don’t: Skip Regular Maintenance

Check gas tank

Motorcycles tend to need more regular maintenance than regular vehicles. Schedule maintenance checks every six months to change your oil and check your chain. Check your tire pressure at least once a month. 

Inspect your bike thoroughly before riding if it has been stowed away for several months. Check the tires, headlights, taillights, turn signals, brakes, fuel, oil, mirrors, handlebars, and horn to ensure they are all in proper working order.  


Do: Ride Defensively

Riding defensively means adopting a mindset and set of practices that prioritize your own safety as well as the safety of others. Scan the road ahead, avoid sudden movements, and use your signals well before lane changes or turns. Additionally, try to predict potential hazards by watching for erratic behavior from other drivers, such as sudden braking or lane changes.

It’s crucial to stay in one lane as much as possible and avoid weaving in and out of traffic. Sudden lane changes can increase the risk of collisions. If you need to change lanes, do so gradually, with pauses and checks between each change 

While lane splitting is legal in California, it should only be done by experienced riders. If you must lane split, it’s safer to do so between the first and second lanes.


Don’t: Ride While Impaired

Riding on two wheels other riders

Riding a motorcycle requires full attention and clear judgment. Impairment can come from various sources – not only alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication but also stress, sadness, or anger. When emotions run high, they can cloud your decision-making abilities and slow your reaction times. 

Similarly, feeling rushed can lead to taking unnecessary risks to save time. It’s crucial to only ride when you are calm and collected and have ample time to reach your destination safely. 


Avoiding a Motorcycle Accident

As you may already know, motorcycle accidents tend to be much more serious than typical car accidents. Motorcyclists are more exposed to the elements and lack the protective structure that cars provide, leading to a higher likelihood of severe injuries or fatalities in the event of a collision. 

According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists accounted for 15% of all traffic fatalities in 2022. Motorcyclists are 22 times more likely to die in motor vehicle crashes and 4 times more likely to be injured than passenger vehicle occupants. 

While many motorcycle accidents are caused by another driver’s negligent or reckless actions, accidents can also be caused by the motorcyclist’s own actions. To avoid accidents and injuries, it is important for all road users to respect the rules of the road. 


We Represent Injured Motorcycle Riders 

New riders slow speeds enjoy riding

The feeling of riding a motorcycle for the first time is an exhilarating experience. Whether you’re riding around the citrus farms or through historic downtown Riverside, there are many beautiful rides in Riverside County and throughout California. Warm summer weather will bring out group riding and solo trips. 

If you are a new rider, prepare yourself for a safe and enjoyable ride by following our tips. Remember, you must always stay alert and ride defensively, no matter how experienced you are. Keeping your speed down and maintaining a safe distance can mean you are protected from any unpredictable situation on the road.

If you need strong legal representation because you were injured because of the actions of a car driver, the motorcycle accident lawyers at Sycamore Accident Lawyers are here for you. We dedicate ourselves to providing the best legal services to injured victims of motor vehicle accidents. Contact our Riverside law firm at (909) 703-2420 or online