Mixing alcohol or other drugs with motorcycle riding is always a bad combination.
Alcohol is a depressant, and it affects a rider's judgment. Blood Alcohol Concentration is the percentage of alcohol in a person's bloodstream. Even low, legal limits of BAC increase your risk while riding a motorcycle.
At a BAC of 0.01 to 0.04%, judgment already begins to lessen, the drinker is less critical of their own actions, reaction time is slowed, and indications of mental relaxation may appear.
At a BAC of 0.05 to 0.07%, judgment is not sound, thinking and reasoning powers are not clear, and the ability to perform complex skills is lessened.
At a BAC of 0.08% or above, judgment and reasoning powers are severely hampered, and the individual cannot complete common simple tasks without error.
It takes a long time for the effects of alcohol to be cleared from your body. Nothing but time will shed alcohol — not showers, coffee, or other so-called remedies.
While marijuana may be legal in you state, it's not legal, safe, or smart to ride under the influence because it tends to distort one's perception of time, space, and speed. Over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal drugs may also have side-effects that increase the risks of riding.
Statistics Don't Lie.
Having any alcohol in one’s body increases the chance of crashing by five times.
Having a BAC greater than 0.05% increases the risk of crashing about forty-fold.
46% of all motorcyclists killed in crashes were using alcohol.
One fourth of all fatal alcohol-related motorcycle crashes involve motorcyclists running off the road, overturning, or falling from the motorcycle rather than striking another object.
*Source: Studies by NHTSA, Florida, Kentucky, and Australia
Alcohol Affects Your Ability To “SEE”
SEE is the acronym for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's strategy to help motorcycle riders maintain a safety margin as well as remain ready and able to respond properly to traffic situations. SEE stands for:
Search for hazards that might lead to trouble.
Evaluate how the hazards might interact to create risk; prioritize multiple hazards to deal with one at a time.
Execute an action to maintain a margin of safety.
Alcohol and drugs affect these three elements of safe motorcycle operation by impairing your vision (Search), judgment/decision-making ability (Evaluate), and coordination/reaction time (Execute).
Riders who are away from home and decide to drink should either (1) wait until their BAC has returned to zero before riding, even if it means staying overnight, or (2) leave the motorcycle in a secure location and find alternate transportation home.
See and Be Seen!
The most common explanation from a car driver who just turned in front of a motorcyclist is, "Gee, officer, I didn't see him."
Too often, motorists don't see riders because they aren't looking out for motorcycles. So you have to attract their attention. When you ride:
Make sure your headlight works and is on day and night.
Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.
Avoid riding in the blind spots of cars and trucks.
If possible, flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.
Have an escape route in case a motorist doesn’t see you and violates your right-of-way.
Dress for safety!
Wear a quality helmet and eye protection. A full-face helmet provides the best protection.
Wear leather or other sturdy, protective clothing (jacket and pants); over-the-ankle boots; and gloves.
Bright clothing and a light-colored helmet increase the chances of being seen. Dress for a crash as well as for the ride.
Remember to SEE
Use your eyes effectively and keep them moving. If your eyes lock on one thing, you may be not see a situation that could affect your ride.
Look ahead, look to the side, look in your mirrors, look over your shoulders. Just keep looking! Far, near, side to side.
Anticipate the oncoming, left-turning driver, the car poking its nose out of the driveway, the guy beside and a little behind you, moving across the lane divider.
Never let your eyes fix on an object for more than two seconds. Keep looking around.
It's one thing to see, another to have time to react, so don't tailgate.
And remember the SEE strategy:
S — Search around you for potential hazards.
E — Evaluate any possible hazards, such as turning cars, railroad tracks, etc.
E — Execute the proper action to avoid the hazard.
Should You Ride a Motorcycle?
Riding a motorcycle is a unique, fun, and invigorating experience. But safe riding requires certain motor skills, keen judgment, and a good grasp of the concept of risk management, which means motorcycling may not be for everyone.
If you are considering becoming a rider, here are a few questions to use as a self-assessment of the physical capabilities and mental attitude needed to safely navigate a motorcycle on the street:
Are you a higher risk-taker than others you know? If you tend to need a thrill while driving a car and have aggressive or risky tendencies, motorcycling may not be for you.
Are you comfortable riding a bicycle? This is generally a good gauge of your ability to maneuver a motorcycle. Bicycling, like motorcycling, is a physical activity that involves balance and coordination.
Do you see well? Riding a motorcycle requires special perceptual skills that rely on good vision. The ability to see well ahead is important for safe riding.
Are you safety-minded? If you often find yourself bandaged up after simple projects around the house or think it's OK to drink and drive, the challenges of motorcycle riding may not be compatible with your decision-making. Riders can control their situation only if safety is a high priority. Millions of motorcyclists ride millions of miles without incident because they take safety seriously.
Do you respect machinery and other equipment that has risk? For example, when you use a lawnmower or chainsaw, do you maintain it properly and wear eye/ear/hand protection as needed? If you're not serious about safety with other equipment whose improper use can lead to serious injury, you may not respect motorcycling enough to follow safety precautions. Safety isn't luck, it's a matter of doing the right things to minimize risk.
Can you focus? Inattention is a major cause of crashes. Safe motorcycling requires dedicated attention to the immediate task and a keen awareness of everything going on 360 degrees around you.
Are you willing to invest some time to learn the right way to ride BEFORE hopping on a motorcycle? Your best "first ride" is a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse, where you can familiarize yourself with the safe operation of a motorcycle. You can even take the course as an experiment, to help you better understand the dynamics of good riding and to determine if motorcycling is right for you.
To sign up for a class at the Motorcycle Safety Academy, click here to REGISTER.