By Marcus Fernandez
A combination of ideal weather and scenic roads make Florida a popular place for motorcycle enthusiasts. In fact, the more than 545,000 motorcycles registered in the state ranks it second in the nation. Even in the midst of a pandemic, more than 300,000 motorcycle riders are expected to make their way to this year’s annual bike week. May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month seems to be an appropriate time to offer a few motorcycle safety tips for new drivers and as a reminder for experienced bikers.
Ride a motorcycle that fits
Avoiding an accident depends on your ability to control the motorcycle. A motorcycle that is too big or too powerful may be difficult to control. For example, the simple act of stopping can lead to an injury unless you can keep the motorcycle upright. That can be difficult when riding a motorcycle with a high seat that only allows your toes to touch ground.
Test different makes and models of motorcycles to find one that fits you. While sitting on it, both feet should be flat on the ground. Hand and foot controls should be easy to reach either while at a stop or when the motorcycle is moving.
Always wear a helmet
According to the most recent annual crash data released by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 521 motorcycle drivers and 29 passengers lost their lives in crashes while more than 7,000 motorcyclists were injured. A properly fitted and secured helmet is your only protection against severe head injuries in the event of a crash.
When purchasing a helmet, make certain that it meets federal safety standards. Helmets that meet the standards have a U.S. Department of Transportation symbol on them. Two private organizations, Snell and ANSI, also certify helmets. A label located inside a helmet indicates that it was certified by one of those organizations.
Dress for safety
Avoid the temptation to ride in shorts and flip flops. Uncovered arms, legs and hands are more likely injured in a crash. Sleeves and pants offer protection from road rash, which occurs when a motorcyclist slides along the ground in an accident.
Gloves and boots not only protect your body, but they also make it easier to control a motorcycle. Good shoes offer better traction for your feet when stopping, and gloves prevent hands from slipping off the brakes.
The state encourages motorcycle riders to wear bright, easy to see clothing to make them visible to other motorists. The program, “Ride Proud, Dress Loud,” suggests avoiding black, gray and other neutral colors and opting for bright, highly visible clothing colors. A reflective vest may be another option to make you more visible for day and evening rides.
Avoid dangerous riding behaviors
Riding between lanes of traffic to reach your destination faster may have the opposite effect if it causes a collision. Obey traffic laws and leave enough room between your motorcycle and other vehicles to stop or maneuver safely.
Do not use drugs or alcohol when riding
Coordination, balance, judgement and the ability to quickly react to situations are essential for the safe operation of a motorcycle. Drugs, including some prescription medications, and alcohol can impair your ability to control your motorcycle and avoid a collision.
Learn to avoid potentially dangerous situations
Experienced motorcycle drivers get into the habit of avoiding situations that could put them in danger. For example, you may see a motorcyclist suddenly accelerate to get away from vehicles on a multi-lane highway. Motorcyclists realize that being boxed in by other vehicles increases their risk of being hit. So, they accelerate to avoid being trapped by other vehicles. Motorcycle safety tips like anticipating dangerous situations will become second nature as you’re more experienced.
Be aware of where you ride within a lane
Driving in the center portion of a lane may not make a difference when you are in a car, but it can be dangerous when operating a motorcycle. Oil and other fluids leaking from vehicles along with debris tend to accumulate in the center portion of lanes and create a slippery surface for a motorcycle.
It is safer to position your motorcycle to the right or left of the center lane for better traction. Ride to the right of center when in the left lane and to the left of center when in the right lane. Not only do you avoid substances on the roadway, but you also discourage vehicles next to you from encroaching in your lane by making you more visible in their sideview mirrors.
Consult with an attorney following an accident
Following these motorcycle safety tips will make you a better rider, but it may not prevent a collision caused by the negligence or reckless behavior of another motorist. A consultation with a Tampa personal injury lawyer can offer options for protecting your rights to be compensated for your injuries. Call to speak to an experienced Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire Lawyer or fill out this form to get a free case evaluation.