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Ten Things to Remember when Riding on Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo has long been a day that many Americans use to enjoy great Mexican food and margaritas with their friends and families. However, much like on holidays such as the Fourth of July or New Year's Eve, these celebrations can lead to an increase of intoxicated drivers on the road. Here are ten tips to remember if you decide to go out on the roads on your motorcycle this Cinco de Mayo.

1. Never ride intoxicated
The only thing more dangerous than riding among intoxicated drivers is riding while intoxicated yourself. If you feel uncomfortable operating your motorcycle after enjoying a few drinks, then trust your gut and find an alternate way home. It may also be a good idea to purchase a home breathalyzer test kit, which can be found for cheap prices at many pharmacies and convenience stores. Even if you feel comfortable riding, your blood alcohol levels may tell a different story, so a breathalyzer test can be used to make sure your BAC is within legal standards.

2. Avoid riding late at night or early in the morning
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has often found that the hours between midnight and 3 a.m. feature the most fatal drunk driving accidents, especially on weekends and holidays. If you must ride your motorcycle following a Cinco de Mayo celebration, try to be extra cautious during these times or avoid these hours on the road altogether. 

3. Have a designated driver
If you have any close friends or relatives who live with you or close to you, it may be a good idea to hitch a ride with one of them. However, it is unsafe to be an intoxicated passenger on a motorcycle, so make sure you choose a friend who will be driving a car for both you and your friend's safety.

4. Avoid long road travel if possible
Whether you are starting a vacation or planning to visit family in another state, it is generally best to avoid long travel on days such as Cinco de Mayo. The more time you spend on the road on Cinco de Mayo, the more likely you are to encounter dangerous situations. Furthermore, drowsiness from long travel will decrease your awareness and slow your reaction time to those situations, so try to arrange your travel to occur the day before or the day after if at all possible.

5. Do not let others ride intoxicated
If one of your friends or relatives is ready to leave a celebration and is not sober enough to travel on the road, do not let that person ride a motorcycle. If you are hosting a party, you may want to encourage him or her to stay the night. If staying overnight is not an option, you may want to arrange for a ride sharing service or friend in a car to bring him or her home.

6. Enjoy an alcohol-free Cinco de Mayo
There are countless ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, so if you are not interested in drinking, try to celebrate simply by enjoying some great Mexican food and culture. Doing so will mean you will not be endangering yourself or others with intoxicated riding nor will you have to worry about issues at DUI checkpoints.

7. Enjoy great Mexican fare
It is well-known that drinking on an empty stomach increases impairment from alcohol, so go ahead and enjoy some great Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo. While eating will not prevent impairment, you are less likely to be too impaired to ride after one or two small drinks if you drink them on a full stomach rather than on an empty stomach.

8. Wear proper protective equipment 
There are some states where helmets are not required to be worn by law. However, wearing proper protective equipment such as helmets, jackets, boots and gloves will significantly reduce your risk of fatal or severe injury in the event of a crash. The NHTSA estimated that more than 1,600 motorcyclists' lives were saved by helmets in 2013, and more than 700 more could have been saved if all states required helmets by law. On a day when there is an increased risk of auto accidents, it is more important than ever to wear proper protection while riding.

9. Arrive at a celebration with a friend or in a taxi
One major issue that leads to people driving or riding while impaired is not being able to leave their vehicles or bikes somewhere overnight. If you are going to a celebration where you know that could be a possibility, avoid that issue by riding with a friend or using a ride sharing service or taxi. In fact, if you plan to drink on Cinco de Mayo, leaving your motorcycle at home to begin with is likely the best course of action.

10. Put down the phone
While there are helmets that come equipped with bluetooth capabilities to allow you to listen to music or receive phone calls while riding your motorcycle, it is still best to avoid those activities while riding. Talking on a phone, even hands-free, can distract your mind from events on the road around you. To guarantee your safety on the roads, it is of utmost importance that you stay as alert and focused as possible by concentrating solely on riding.

Do you have any safety tips to share? Let us know!
By Daniel Relich

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