The winter season gauged by the astronomical event known as the solstice started earlier this week. In most of the northern states of the U.S., this is a time when motorcycles are typically off the road.

But with the relatively warm temperatures we’ve had around Hartford lately, and the fact that Christmas is upon us, there’s a good chance two-wheeled motor vehicles will be out and about. Even though the forecast includes a lot of moisture, it might not be enough to drive hardy riders into the confines of their cars, trucks or SUVs.

Seasonal rains and dips in the mercury make for slippery conditions. But as we noted in an article earlier this year, some state officials are concerned that the general condition of some key roads are not what they should be, making travel less safe.

Interstate 84 is one of them. At the same time, officials with the Department of Transportation are on record as suggesting that apparent increases in accidents along I-84 are due more to poor driver behaviors, rather than bad road surfaces.

There are a lot of factors that can combine to create the conditions under which motorcycle accidents can happen. Weather and the condition of the road surfaces are two. Motorcyclist inexperience may be another. Another common contributor is negligent or reckless car and truck drivers who fail to share the road. the result is a fatal or injury-causing motorcycle crash that should have never occurred.

There’s little a motorcyclist can do to influence the behavior of other drivers. The Department of Motor Vehicles says there are steps motorcyclists can take to better protect themselves, though. Here are just a few of them.

  • Wear the right gear: Helmets and leather garments are basic. In winter, officials recommend wearing a jacket or rain suit snugly covering up to the neck and down to at least the wrists.
  • Know your limits: If you don’t have experience driving in certain conditions, consider staying off the road. If you opt to go out, obey the law.
  • Don’t drink and drive: Does this tip really need any further explanation?

With conscientious attention, we all stand a chance of traveling safer.