Many people are drawn to the power and speed of motorcycles, but the thrill comes at the cost of increased risk of injury for the driver. Florida has one of the highest motorcycle fatality rates in the nation. For the past few years, there have been around 500 motorcycle fatalities each year. With approximately ten people dying every week from motorcycle crashes, it’s clear that more must be done to promote motorcycle safety. While many accidents are the result of careless car drivers who aren’t checking for motorcycles, some crashes are the result of inexperienced motorcycle operators. Here are five essential safety tips from the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. that can help keep new motorcycle riders safe.
Don’t Start Riding With an Overpowered Motorcycle
Part of the appeal of a motorcycle is the power and speed of the vehicle, and there’s a tendency for younger riders to go for the fastest bike they can afford. The problem with this tactic is that some motorcycles are more powerful than an inexperienced rider may expect. Even people who are getting back into bikes after a couple of decades driving a car might be surprised to find how much more powerful modern motorcycle engines are. According to advice from Consumer Reports, “A smaller model with a 250- to 300-cc engine can make a great starter or commuter bike. If you plan on doing a lot of highway riding, you might want one with an engine in the 500- to 750-cc range so you can easily keep up with traffic.”
Do Not Transport Passengers
Just as having a truck elicits requests to help someone move, motorcycle owners will eventually be asked to give someone a ride on the back of the bike. Though you see it on the roads often, this isn’t something that new riders should attempt. The amount of weight on the motorcycle affects the way it handles. Riders should wait until they have much more experience before trying to control a bike with twice the weight as usual and an altered center of gravity. Transporting passengers without the proper skill level can lead to severe or fatal injuries for the rider and their guest.
Avoid Bad Weather
Though Florida is the Sunshine State, we get more than our fair share of rainy days. Weather conditions are something riders need to check before leaving on their bikes. Rain cuts the rider’s visibility significantly, as well reduces the tires’ grip on the road, which can make cornering tricky. When driving in the rain is unavoidable be smart about when you go. The most dangerous time is right after precipitation begins, as the water can cause oil residue to rise to the top. It also helps avoid making sudden maneuvers and to be gentle with the brakes, throttle, and steering to prevent sliding. Strong winds are also a concern for new riders. Riders can be proactive in avoiding gusts of wind by moving to the side of the lane the wind is coming from to get some leeway if they get nudged.
Obey the Speed Limit
Motorcycles can gain a lot of speed very quickly, and that creates a temptation for new riders to go faster than the legally posted speed limit. Besides avoiding an eventual ticket, riding a motorcycle at the proper speed dramatically reduces the risk of being involved in a collision. According to some estimates, speeding is a factor in a third of all motorcycle fatalities and the risk increases with the inexperience of the rider.
Wear the Right Gear
Everyone knows they should wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorcycle, but there are other clothing concerns to keep in mind. Riders should wear gear that will protect them from wind chill, flying bugs and debris, and bodily harm if they accidentally slide out. There’s a reason why many bikers go for a leather or other reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants, and over-the-ankle footwear, even in summer. In the Florida heat, it’s also a good idea to consider specially designed jackets with rugged padding and breathable mesh material provide protection as well as ventilation for riding in warm weather. It’s also a good idea to wear colors that are easier for other drivers to see if you plan on riding at night.
Following these instructions can help new riders avoid an accident. And if they are in an accident, following these rules can make it easier to prove that the rider wasn’t at fault. If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help. Send us a message online to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.