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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, promoting safe riding practices for motorcycle drivers

Warmer weather brings out the bikes, and with that comes the possibility of accidents.

Madison, Wis. (May 1, 2014) - With the riding season now underway, motorcycles are rapidly returning to streets and highways around the country. As motorcycles continue to grow in popularity among men and women of all ages, safety is a constant concern.

"May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and we're reminding motorists to share the road and watch for motorcycles," says Eric Roethe, product research specialist at American Family Insurance. "Motorists often have difficulty judging the time, speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle. To prevent crashes, motorists should check the position of a motorcycle at least two or three times before they start to drive through an intersection or make a turn."

Roethe also emphasizes that motorcyclists need to make responsible decisions to reduce their risks of serious or fatal injuries. "Motorcyclists must obey all traffic laws, wear protective clothing and gear, including a helmet that meets or exceeds US DOT standards and be sure their bike is ready to hit the road after this long winter."

American Family Insurance recommends some simple checks of the bike to make sure that first ride is a safe one. One approach is the TCLOCK:

  • T - Tires and Wheels
  • C - Controls
  • L - Lights
  • O - Oil
  • C - Chassis and Chain
  • K - Kickstand

You can find a great worksheet for this approach here.

Tires

Inspect the tires looking for tread depth and wear. Check tire pressures. They have most likely dropped to unsafe levels over the winter months. While you're down there, inspect the wheels, too. If you have spokes, look for anything broken, bent or missing. Give the rims a once over, and spin them to ensure the bearings are in good shape.

Controls

Check the action of all of the levers, including the clutch and brake levers on the handlebars, as well as the rear brake and gear shifter. Spring is a good time to lubricate any cables and inspect for fraying and kinks.

Lights and battery

Make sure the headlights and turn signals work - front and back. Check the electrolyte level in the battery and make sure it's fully charged.

Oil

Check the engine oil level, and if appropriate, check coolant and gear oil for shaft drive bikes. Check brake and clutch fluid levels. (Note that if your brake fluid is low, it's a good sign that something is wrong - either your brake pads need replacing or you have a leak.)

Chassis and chain

Clean, lubricate and adjust the chain. If your bike is belt drive, adjust the belt tension. Check the steering head bearings. Inspect the forks for leaks and smooth travel. Give the bike a once over for loose bolts and fasteners.

Kickstand

Make sure the side and center stand springs are in good shape. Then check the side and center stands and ensure they're lubricated and operate smoothly.

It's also a good time to contact your American Family Insurance agent to discuss your motorcycle coverage and make sure it still suits your needs.

About American Family Insurance

American Family insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter:www.twitter.com/amfam. Google+ plus.google.com/+amfam/

News media contact:

Sandra Spann
Media Relations
(608) 242-4100, ext. 32881