Florida weather allows motorcyclists to enjoy their bikes all year round. Other parts of the country are not so fortunate. Motorcycles are put away during the winter and don’t see the light of day until spring. Now we are into summer and highways all across America are abuzz with the hum of motorcycles.
With this deluge of two-wheeled vehicles comes the potential for serious accidents if everyone isn’t cautious. Sharing the road with motorcycles calls for heightened awareness as well as driving courtesy.
Apparel Safety Measures for Motorcyclists
If you are planning on driving a motorcycle, there are some safety measures that you should be aware of. Leather and motorcyclists go together. While a lot of people think it’s just about being cool, the truth is that leather has a lot of features that actually make riding safer. Riding a motorcycle can be painful when you’re hitting bugs at high speeds. Leather acts as a barrier, protecting the rider from cuts and scrapes. If you fall on the pavement, the leather will hold up a lot better than your bare skin during the slide. Wind chill can make for a very cool ride and leather acts as an insulator. Of course, leather looks cool too!
With that being said, another fact you need to face is that at night if you wear all black, you are virtually invisible. Sure you have your lights, but that may not be enough to keep you safe. Wearing reflective clothing will help drivers see you in the dark.
Another apparel-related motorcycle safety measure is the helmet. If you are over 21, helmets are not mandatory, however, when you consider the damage you could incur in an accident, wearing a helmet only makes sense. Passengers and operators under the age of 21 are required by law to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation approved helmet.
A full-face helmet may seem rather bulky, but the DOT guidelines ensure that wearers will have a field of view of at least 210 degrees. If you’ve ever been riding and had a few bugs hit your lips, you’ll appreciate the protection that an approved full face helmet provides.
When purchasing a helmet, be sure to get one that’s approved for riding. The truth is that novelty helmets don’t meet the standards for protecting your head and brain. Meeting the standards of the US Department of Transportation will keep you minimally safe in the event of an accident.
You’ll be even safer if, in addition to the DOT sticker, your helmet has a Snell Foundation Sticker and/or the American National Standards Institute, or the Economic Commission for Europe sticker on it. These organizations have stricter standards than DOT for helmet safety.
The truth is not all motorists are used to driving with motorcycles on the road. They won’t see you and even if they do, you can’t depend on them driving as if they do see you. You’ll be a lot safer if you expect the unexpected. As a cyclist, you are not going to be as distracted as other drivers. Accidents caused by distractions, such as texting and using mobile devices, are on the rise. While most drivers are responsible and pay attention to the road, all it takes is one who isn’t. Drifting into another lane, not braking in time, and other irresponsible moves can easily land you in the hospital or worse if you aren’t watchful. Drivers need to be watchful and diligent; motorcyclists need to be twice as much so.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Why Americans drive under the influence of alcohol is beyond reason. This nation has one of the highest rates in the world of alcohol-related traffic accidents. The truth about motorcycle accidents is that around 43% of motorcyclists who perished in single-vehicle accidents were alcohol-impaired.
Statistics reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assign motorcyclists a risk rate of being in a fatal accident. According to the NHTSA, a motorcyclist is 27 times more likely to die in a crash than a person in a passenger car. They are 6 times more likely to be injured.
Balance, coordination and good judgment are compromised with alcohol consumption. You need all three to drive a motorcycle safely. Don’t drink and drive.
The attorneys at Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. law firm strive to help our fellow community members in the Port Charlotte area be more aware of motorcycle safety, both for cyclists and those driving other vehicles. Let’s all work together to keep our roadways safe and our citizens alive.