fall motorcycle safety tipsFall riding is a favorite among many motorcyclists, especially in Maryland. They look forward to cooler days and scenic views of changing leaves along the open roads. Autumn weather also presents some new hazards to motorcyclists, however, so it’s important to be prepared. Here, we present 7 fall motorcycle safety tips to keep you riding safe all season.

1. Always check the forecast.

Even if you checked the day before, check the weather forecast again right before you ride. Weather in Maryland can be quite unpredictable. If there’s a chance the roads will become too dangerous for riding, don’t take a chance.

2. Prepare for abrupt weather changes.

Again, the weather in Maryland can be unpredictable, especially if you’re driving anywhere near the mountains or the bay. Always pack rain gear when riding in the fall, just in case. Even if it’s only misting or sprinkling out, wet clothes will make for a miserably cold ride.

3. Dress for cold weather riding.

It’s best to layer up when preparing to ride in cold weather. That way, you can make adjustments on the fly if you find yourself overheating to getting too chilly. Wear a base layer of thermals under your regular clothes, and top it off with a warm jacket. It’s good to pack a fleece, as well, in case you need extra warmth.

4. Watch for early morning frost.

Even warm fall days might start cold and crisp with a layer of frost on the ground and on the roads. If you regularly commute by motorcycle or plan an early morning ride, you’ll need to watch for slippery conditions. When choosing a lane position, stick with car tracks or toward the middle of the road where less frost collects. Increase your following distances to ensure you have enough time to brake safely.

5. Beware of fallen leaves.

This is a fall motorcycle safety tip many new riders don’t consider. As pleasant as it is to see the changing colors of fall, it’s safest to avoid riding through areas where there is no leaf collection. Fallen leaves can be just as slippery as ice, plus they may hide potholes and other hazards. Be especially careful in tree-lined residential areas. Take it slow and increase your following distances under these conditions, just as you would with frost.

6. Consider how changing light conditions might impact visibility.

With days getting shorter in fall, you may spend more time riding in the dark. Always dress for maximum visibility, wearing the appropriate reflective safety gear. Earlier sunsets might also impact visibility along your route. The brightness of the sunset during an evening commute might make you more difficult than usual to see.

7. Look out for deer and other wildlife.

Deer and other animals that are most active at dusk and at dawn will also shift their behavior according to sunrise and sunset time changes. Animals that tend to forage more in the fall to prepare for winter weather may also be out in greater numbers, so keep a careful eye out when biking near wooded areas.