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Summer Saturdays on your motorcycle may be your highest risk ride

July may simply be the best time to head out on the open road. Of course, June and August are prime time for motorcycling, too, but there's just something about the heat and the light in July that make riding feel like freedom.

The popularity of motorcycling is growing fast. The Motorcycle Industry Council says new motorcycle sales were up by over 8 percent in the first quarter of this year. That means more motorcycles than ever are out on Illinois roads these days -- many of them ridden by inexperienced riders. Even veteran riders should pay attention to the results of a recent analysis of annual claims data from Progressive Insurance, however: It turns out that July may be the most dangerous month for motorcyclists.

According to the company's 2014 data on motorcycle-related claims, the average number of claims is far higher in July than in the rest of the year. How much higher? July claims are 78 percent higher than the average claims for the other 11 months.

That's not to say you're in the clear once July is over. Progressive also tabulated 2014's top 10 days for motorcycle claims, and almost all of them were in summer -- and the top 5 were all summer Saturdays.

Is it those newbies causing all the motorcycle accidents? Maybe, but it's not entirely clear because the largest portion of motorcycle claims were for single-vehicle accidents last year. Progressive says there were more claims involving motorcycles crashing on their own than the next three categories of accidents combined. Those, by the way, were rear-end collisions, accidents at intersections and stolen motorcycle claims.

"While many motorcycle accidents can involve other vehicles, most are single-vehicle incidents, which is something motorcycle riders should be aware of," said a spokesperson for Progressive.

So if you're out taking advantage of the fine weather on a Saturday this summer, be vigilant. Make sure your bike is in good shape, wear your helmet and ride defensively.

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