September in Northern Nevada means a few things. The Great Reno Balloon race (and getting up before dawn!). The return of Nevada Wolf Pack football. The highflying action-packed Reno Air Races. And the rolling thunderous sound of the annual Street Vibrations  Fall Rally. Drive on an area street or highway and you can’t miss the roaring, eye-splitting purr of a motorcycle engine. And it’s this time of year we want to remind our friends riding around on two wheels to be safe and smart on the road.

Mom was Right- Wear Your Helmet! There’s no way to get around it. Helmets are the single most important piece of safety equipment a rider can have. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Many motorcyclists complain that helmets interfere with hearing and vision. Research has shown that helmets have no affect on a rider’s hearing. As far as vision, riders may have to turn their head a little more to the side before switching lanes. A small price to pay for safety!

Don’t Do It! Consuming alcohol and operating a motor vehicle is dangerous and life-threatening. But take away two wheels, seat belts, and add some RPMs, and you have got yourself a high speed death trap. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that of all alcohol-related accidents on the road today, motorcycle riders were 40% more likely to have blood alcohol levels dramatically HIGHER than the legal limit. And that of all intoxicated vehicle operators on the road, motorcyclists make up the majority. Yikes. Operating a motorcycle takes skill, expertise, and most of all, coordination. Alcohol erases all of that. Take the most experienced rider and add alcohol, and you got yourself a dangerous and uncoordinated rookie. DO NOT DRINK AND RIDE! Call a cab. If your downtown, stay the night in a hotel. Whatever you do, don’t risk your life and the lives of others on the road!

Got Skills? While splitting lanes looks cool, it’s dangerous and often puts you and other drivers at risk. If you chose to lane split, remember to do so cautiously at reduced speeds. Also, the single greatest cause for motorcycle accidents is road hazards. Plan ahead and know your route. Be cautious of road construction, as construction zones often means debris on the road, a no-no for motorcyclist.

It also doesn’t hurt to know what you are doing. Taking a safety course or privet lessons even after you earn your license test can help you brush up on your skills and keep bad habits at bay. Half of fatalities for motorcycle riders involve negotiating turns, especially when turning left. So don’t forget to proceed with caution and when in doubt, slow down.

Riding a motorcycle is a wonderful and truly uniquely American experiences. Nothing makes you feel more free than roaring down the road on two wheels. Capital Insurance Service encourages you to stay safe and in control on the road, as well as to remember to carry your motorcycle insurance with you at all times!