Motorcycles are a popular alternative to cars, and we see many of them travelling on Nevada roads. However, motorcycle riders are often overrepresented in fatal traffic crashes – a reason some refer to motorcycles as “donor-cycles”. In 2020, there were 5,458 fatal motorcycle fatalities, a nine percent increase from 2019 as well as the highest number of motorcycle fatalities to ever be recorded. They were also 29 times more likely to die in a crash per vehicle miles traveled . There are a multitude of ways motorcycle accident happen, often due to them bein less visible in comparison to the larger vehicles on the roads; additionally, they are less stable than four-wheel cars and require both mental and physical stamina when operating. Lastly, motorcyclists are more exposed to the elements as well as the environments around them, making them more accident prone.
Staying Safe on a Motorcycle in Nevada
If you ride a motorcycle, there are some simple steps you can take to better ensure your safety. Riding a motorcycle can be fun and exhilarating, however it is easy to lose control. In addition, driving a motorbike takes very different skills from driving, and has a different set of rules to the road. Therefore, it is necessary to have a motorcycle endorsement supplement on your driver’s license. In most states this involves taking a written skills test, while some states also require a state-sponsored rider education course. In Nevada you must be 16 to receive a motorcycle permit, and it will be restricted until you turn 18.
Once you have received your license, it is important to get more familiar with riding in a controlled area, like an empty parking lot or slower street. Avoid driving on high speed areas like highways or freeways until you know you can successfully control the bike and react to other vehicles, as well as remain comfortable in environmental factors, like weather, hazards, potholes, road debris, etc.
The following are some preventative measures to take before riding to ensure your safety:
- Check your motorcycle’s tire pressure, tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights, and fluid levels. You should also check under the motorcycle for signs of oil or gas leaks.
- If you plan on carrying cargo, ensure that you balance it properly and it does not interfere with your ability to drive. One of the most important items to carry if bringing cargo is a first aid kit including supplies to treat road rash.
- If you are carrying a passenger, ensure they mount only after the engine has started. They should sit behind you and as far forward as possible, and ensure the passenger always keeps their foot away from the muffler and on the footrest. While driving, it is best that they hold firmly on your waist/hips and keep their movement to a minimum. They should not dismount until you have stopped moving. 
Wearing a helmet is perhaps the most important preventative safety measure and both you and your passenger must wear a helmet, per Nevada motorcycle helmet law. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association says that wearing a helmet saved 1,872 lives in 2017, and if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, more than 700 more lives could have been saved. In addition, studies have found that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities in drivers and 42 percent for passengers. Unfortunately, the United States Department of Transportation’s data showed a decrease in users wearing a helmet from seventy-one percent in 2019 to sixty-nine percent in 2020.
Motorist awareness is also another key aspect in preventing motorcycle accidents and cooperating with everyone on the road, including motorcyclists, is a necessity. Motorcycles often downshift, weave between lanes, and split lanes, all which are legal. As a driver, it important to stay alert of your surroundings, ensure blind spots are checked, and adhere to speed limits so you have enough time to react to motorcyclists.
Finally, it should go without saying that partaking in any use of alcohol, marijuana or illicit drugs while driving a motorcycle is a recipe for danger. Motorcyclists are already at somewhat of a disadvantage while driving in Nevada, and the use of any mind or body influencing substances only heightens the risk of serious harm.
Motorcycle Accidents in Nevada
On January 25, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police responded to a motorcycle accident on Alta Drive on Fox Hill Drive that involved a cyclist and a vehicle around 3:07 p.m. It is believed that the rider was a juvenile and struck the median before being ejected and hitting a tree. The rider was transported to the hospital in critical condition. Officials believe that speed was a factor.  This is but one of a tragic list of motorcycle accidents on Nevada roadways. In fact, motorcycle accidents make up 19.2 percent of all fatal crashes in the State. Between 2014 and 2018 there were 268 fatal motorcycle crashes in the Nevada, 26 of these fatalities involved someone who was not wearing a helmet. 
Travelling by motorcycle can be fun and exhilarating experience throughout Nevada, from hitting the abundant open desert roads to scenically travelling through the Sierra Nevada’s and Lake Tahoe. However, motorcycle riding comes with additional obstacles and risks; following the above guidelines should be a first step to ensuring you travel as safely and securely as possible when travelling by motorcyle.