Whether you’re brand new to two wheels or you’ve been riding the roads for years, motorcycle safety is always the first priority. While bikers feel an incredible sense of freedom, they know that with this freedom comes responsibility. In many ways, diligent operation is even more critical for motorcyclists than with four-wheeled drivers: they have less structural protection and other motorists are often all but blind to them.
Stay safe, be cautious, remain alert… and enjoy. Here are five tips from a leading Florida motorcycle accident attorney to help you make it to your destination – and back again.
Start with Your Bike
Imagine zipping through the streets at insane speeds with the powerful Kawasaki ZK-10R. “Going big or going home” with a Harley CVO.
Whoa. Slow down. These are both a lot of bike for a new rider. Today’s motorcycles are more powerful than ever.
Yes, this appealing, but you need to select a bike that “fits” you and enables you to handle it with confidence. Look for a model on which you can sit and reach both feet flat to the ground; make sure you don’t have to strain to reach the controls and handlebars. You should also be able to get on and off the center stand with ease.
When shopping, see how it feels. Too heavy? Then, quite simply, it’s too heavy! Go with a smaller engine – a 250 – 300 cc is a good place to start. Despite what Harley Davidson says, you don’t have to “go big or go home.” You want to go safely and make it home. At first, that means a smaller, more manageable bike.
Avoid Accidents with Anti-Lock Brakes
An anti-lock braking system (ABS) prevents the wheels from locking when you need them most. Wheel speed sensors adjust brake fluid pressure to maintain traction. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data shows that when you have ABS brakes, you are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash compared to motorcycles without them.
As Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Motorcycle Safety Program’s Bruce Biondo so aptly put it: “No matter what kind of rider you are, ABS can brake better than you.” They work to prevent panic in an intense braking situation, which prevents skids and crashes. The bottom line: you retain control.
But how does ABS affect your bottom line? Not as much as you’d think. Adding this feature costs just a few hundred dollars (and it comes standard on many bikes). You may also be able to recoup the cost with an insurance deduction.
When it comes to motorcycle safety, though, the cost is well worth it.
In Florida, bikers over the age of 21 can choose not to wear a helmet if they carry an insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical coverage. Yes, it’s a choice – but it’s a decision that can save your life.
Motorcyclists who are involved in crashes are 40 percent more likely to die and three times more likely to to suffer severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) if they don’t wear a helmet. TBIs result in significant medical and rehabilitation costs. They can cause death or massive, and irreversible, damage that impacts an individual’s ability to function normally day to day.
Don’t put yourself at risk for devastating consequences – or your family in the position of making difficult decisions regarding your ongoing care or even having to make funeral arrangements. Sounds dramatic? It is. Always wear a DOT-approved helmet.
Speaking of proper gear… make sure to deck yourself out in protective clothing. Jeans and t-shirts are better for strolling down the sidewalks than roaring down the roads. Today’s options will ensure you stay cool and comfortable – and, above all, safe. You can avoid injuries from flying debris, bugs, windchill, and, of course, road rash.
Watch Road and Weather Conditions
Be on your guard for rocks, pebbles, wet leaves, sand, bumps, potholes, railroad tracks … you name it, and it can cause an accident. Slow down and proceed with caution. Remember, your bike has less surface contact with the road than a four-wheeled vehicle; that reduces your margin of error.
You also want to avoid bad weather. No, rain doesn’t necessarily need to stop experienced bikers from enjoying a ride – but if you are new, err on the side of caution. Slippery conditions make it hard to corner correctly, brake hard, and execute sudden maneuvers. Strong winds pose another danger as they can push you around the lane. (Move to the side of the lane from which the wind is coming. If it nudges you, you at least have some room to correct.)
If conditions are too wet and wild, stay off the bike. In Florida, you can be sure the sun will be shining soon enough.
Drive It Like… You’re Defending It
The myth that bikers are rough, tough outlaws persists. The reality is that the vast majority are law-abiding – and, in fact, more law-abiding than texting, talking, browsing four-wheeled drivers. In accidents involving motorcycles and cars, car operators are at fault 60 percent of the time.
Unfortunately, it’s up to you to keep yourself safe. Watch out during lane changes and left turns. Keep a safe following distance, and don’t engage in lane splitting. Perhaps it’s not fair that the onus is on you to ride defensively, but that is what will keep you in one piece on the roadways.
Here’s a bonus tip: if you are involved in a collision, contact a Florida motorcycle accident attorney immediately. An attorney can help you navigate the difficult terrain ahead, from low-ball insurance settlement offers to contentious drivers who want to put the blame on you.
The LaBovick LaBovick & Diaz team will fight aggressively on your behalf; our experienced team will work with you to document the scene and any injuries, investigate fault, and build a compelling case that ensures you receive the compensation you are owed.
If you’re about to embark on a motorcycle adventure, take the time to put motorcycle safety first. We want you to have fun, explore the great state of Florida (and beyond), and pull into your driveway happy at the end of the trip.