According to 2016 NHTSA fatal crash data, motorcyclist fatalities occurred 28 times more frequently than deadly crashes in other vehicles. As we begin Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, motorists are encouraged to take extra precaution while traveling Florida highways, interstates, and city streets.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, NHTSA, and the U.S. Department of Transportation offer these tips to help motorcyclists stay safe as warmer weather brings more bikers out and about.
Make Sure You and Your Motorcycle Are Road Ready
Unlike regular passenger cars and trucks, motorcycles have fewer moving parts. Maintaining bikes, however, is far more important for motorcycles than passenger cars. Making sure tire tread depth is at or above what the DOT suggests is imperative; brakes, fluid levels, and all other required maintenance items should be checked off prior to heading off into the sunset.
Rider rules and regulations should also be studied prior to riding. As laws are updated often, check with your local DMV to assure you are aware of recent changes to motorcycle riding rules. While you are visiting the branch, make sure to sign up for riding courses if you are new to motorcycle riding. These safety course will cover many rules and regulations that are necessary to stay safe while traversing Florida.
Wear Proper Protective Gear
Helmets may be an uncomfortable inconvenience for riders, but they are vital protective items that could save your brain from serious injury should your bike slam to the pavement unexpectedly. Protection for your eyes, legs and arms is vital, too.
The expense involved with purchasing protective gear gives you and your loved ones peace of mind that the odds of returning home in one piece will be much greater. Helmets can be accessorized to match your style and bike, and could save your life.
Ultimately, motorcycle helmets are not required for adults in Florida, however, because they reduce the risk of fatality or traumatic brain injury, they are a smart accessory.
Avoid Excessive Speed and Lane Splitting
Motorcycles can reach excessive speeds much quicker than passenger vehicles. Their smaller size can make looking for bikers in the rearview or side mirror challenging. There is nothing in life worth risking our lives for, especially while riding a motorcycle; abide by posted speed limits and avoid weaving in and out of lanes.
Lane splitting should also be avoided not only because it is dangerous, but it is illegal in Florida.
How Motorcycles Accidents Happen in Florida
Many motorcycle accident cases involve passenger cars who disregard traffic signals, drive while distracted, or show no remorse for others when passing although they should be sharing the road. Other scenarios where motorcycle wrecks are common include:
- Commercial vehicle vs. motorcycle. Larger commercial trucks will change lanes without looking at both side mirrors. If motorcycles are in their blind spot, and they hit them when moving over, an accident is imminent. Distractions are also common in commercial vehicle versus motorcycle accidents.
- Motorcycle vs. motorcycle. Although less common than other accident types, one motorcycle can clip the back or front tire of another if passing too closely or driving erratically. This can happen if lane splitting or “showboating” on the interstate.
- Government vehicle vs. motorcycle. City garbage trucks, maintenance vehicles, and other government owned cars and trucks can seriously injured motorcyclists. As the city or county government will get involved, these cases require a much stronger burden of proof and experience dealing with government entities.
- Motorcycle vs. object. While riding near a construction zone, motorcyclists can be seriously injured or killed if an object hits them. Provided enough evidence exists that the object came from the construction zone, your attorney can build a case against the contractor or worksite owner.
- Motorcycle vs. rideshare driver. Taxis and Ubers are incentivized to speed through town. One wrong turn or disregarded red light could mean tragedy for an unsuspecting motorcyclist.
How Drivers Can Make Roadways Safer
Drivers can help motorcycles by following these simple guidelines:
- Check to make sure brakes are not worn out. Every driver has probably had the thought or fear that they their car will suddenly malfunction, causing them to get into an accident. A malfunction of any type can be catastrophic, but brake failure presents a scary situation. No one wants to be coasting down the highway to suddenly find they cannot brake properly, slow down, or stop when needed.
- Slow down. There is no destination worth rushing to, period. Leave home early if rush hour traffic is expected to slow you down.
- Put down the cell phone. If your vehicle does not have voice dialing, you should probably pull over if you must make an emergency call or send a text. Distracted driving is a growing threat to motorcycle safety, with many accidents taking the lives of innocent riders due to cell phone use.
- Give bikers some distance. Following motorcycles too closely can cause an unwelcome accident; give motorcyclists a car length to allow them enough time to brake, and offer you enough time to respond.
- Double-check intersections. Bikes are smaller than cars and are easy to miss, especially at intersections where there are plenty of trees or during poor weather.
Motorcycle Accidents Are Preventable. It Starts With You.
Each year in Florida, one motorcyclist will lose their life for every 100,000 inhabitants. Given the millions of citizens who call the Sunshine State home, that figure is pretty significant. Roughly 7.2 per 100,000 are hospitalized due to injuries sustained from vehicle versus motorcycle accidents, and 22.1 per 100,000 required outpatient emergency room care.
Although motorcycle accidents happen less than car accidents, the devastation they create for families and communities is far greater than what cars are known for. Younger riders and those who are just learning how to ride may rethink their choices after seeing or hearing about motorcycle accidents. As Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month wages on, look twice to save a life.
If you have been injured while riding a motorcycle, time is critical if you wish to hold the at-fault party accountable. Contact Burnett Law to begin your claim.