How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle
Florida's temperate climate and picturesque landscapes attract motorcyclists from around the country, and motorcycle enthusiasts who call Florida home are especially fortunate to take advantage of scenic views on a joyride whenever they would like. As much as bikers love the open road, motorcycle crashes do occur.
Experienced and new bikers alike need to remain focused on safety to survive a motorcycle crash. Even the safest bikers can still die in a motorcycle crash caused by motor vehicle drivers. Unfortunately, you have no control over other drivers. You can, however, take some precautions to ensure your survival, or at least increase your chances of survival, if a negligent, careless, or reckless driver causes an accident.
In addition to protecting yourself from injuries, protecting your financial and legal interests after a motorcycle crash can be crucial to your well-being. Speak with a Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney to learn about how our legal team can provide an additional layer of protection when you’re faced with medical bills and other expenses after a crash.
Motorcycle Safety Tips That Can Help Reduce Injuries
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) estimates more than 9,000 motorcycle accidents, including about 500 fatalities, occurred on Florida roads in 2018. Some of those who walked away from a motorcycle crash were fortunate; others took one or more precautions to ensure they would survive a motorcycle accident.
In addition to practicing good driving habits, such as obeying the speed limit and traffic laws, bikers do well to employ additional safety techniques and safety gear to account for the additional hazards that motorcycle riding can present.
Wear the Right Gear
If you get in a motorcycle crash, what you wear serves as a barrier between your body and the road. Motorcycle gear can help you stand out and look the part while you’re on your bike, but it can also serve important safety functions. When you invest in the right gear, you can reduce the severity of injuries and maximize your chances of surviving the crash.
Florida law requires all bikers under 21 to wear a DOT-approved helmet. If you are over 21, you are not required to wear a helmet as long as you carry $10,000 in motorcycle insurance coverage. Still, just because you can go without a helmet, it doesn't mean you should.
Motorcyclists who wear helmets reduce their likelihood of dying in a crash by almost 40 percent and reduce their chance of suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) by about 70 percent, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For your helmet to protect your head the way it should, you must occasionally replace it. The Snell Memorial Foundation, a non-profit that researches and tests helmets, recommends replacing your helmet at least every five years. Even if you cannot see visible wear, chemicals, dirt, and oils from your hair can break down the protective area on the inside of the helmet.
You might wonder how protective eyewear might save your life in a motorcycle accident. When an accident occurs, how you handle your bike can help you avoid injuries or death. If you can see clearly in a motorcycle accident, you can make the best choices to control your bike, potentially avoiding a guardrail or wandering into oncoming traffic. Additionally, protective eyewear can help prevent foreign matter from coming into contact with your face, which may reduce some types of injury.
Florida law also requires you to protect your eyes while riding a motorcycle. If you aren't wearing a full-face helmet, you need goggles or sunglasses to ensure you have the best visibility possible. However, it’s important to select eye and headwear that does not create additional blind spots in your vision.
A pair of quality motorcycle boots can be expensive, but they are an investment worth making. In addition to protecting you from damage to your legs, ankles, and feet in an accident, they might help you avoid more serious consequences of an accident.
Boots protect you from road rash and open wounds on your feet and ankles. They also offer stability during a motorcycle accident. Most athletic shoes will slip off during a motorcycle accident when a biker's feet get twisted or contorted. Boots typically stay on and might allow you to keep your bike from falling in some situations.
Florida's pleasant climate leads to people regularly wearing shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops; however, wearing this kind of clothing on a motorcycle can be dangerous, even if a biker wears a helmet.
Bikers who don't wear protective clothing are at risk for road rash. In severe cases, road rash can scrape away layers of skin down to the bone, causing the body to go into shock. Victims of severe road rash are also prone to deadly infections because of open wounds. If you don’t wish to wear leather items, such as pants and jackets, there are other options that offer just as much, if not more, protection. Many modern styles of motorcycle wear offer breathable mesh and Kevlar lining for additional breathability and durability.
Know How to Handle Your Bike
Surviving a motorcycle crash might be dependent on the extent to which you can handle your bike. When a vehicle hits your bike, you need to be able to have the appropriate response that results in the least amount of damage.
In some accidents, especially those that occur at high speeds, you won't have the opportunity to respond. However, when you do have the opportunity to respond, knowing the correct actions to take might save your life. The best way to ensure you can handle your bike appropriately is by getting a bike that fits your body, riding for weather conditions, and taking motorcycle safety classes.
Get the Right Size Bike for Your Body
Whether you are new to motorcycles or have been enjoying them for years, when you buy a bike, you should select a motorcycle that fits your height and weight. Heavier and taller riders will be able to manage larger bikes more safely. You’ll also want to consider the height of the bike and the type of bike in order to know you’re getting a vehicle that matches your frame. Cruisers, for example, sit much lower on the ground than sports bikes. However, they are often heavier.
In general, you can find a good fit by sitting on the bike and holding it upright. Both of your feet should rest flat on the ground, and you should be able to reach the handlebars easily when seated. Additionally, your motorcycle should not be too heavy for you. You should be able to hold it straight when you lift the kickstand without too much strain.
Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
New and experienced bikers alike benefit from motorcycle safety courses. Years of riding experience can result in the creation of bad habits, so even long-time motorcycle enthusiasts can benefit from a refresher or an advanced training course. These courses help you learn ways to avoid motorcycle accidents, as well as how to handle your bike if you get in one.
As an added bonus, you might get a discount on motorcycle insurance and special discounts with dealers when you complete an approved motorcycle rider education course. Throughout the United States, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has created approved, standardized courses for all different levels of riding. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) Florida Rider Training Program (FRTP) has approved most MSF courses. Different course providers have some variety in their course offerings, but the two major course offerings include the Basic Rider Course and its continuation in Basic Rider 2:
- The Basic Rider Course is a two-day motorcycle safety class that includes classroom instruction as well as hands-on experiences. The course covers basic bike safety operations, braking techniques, obstacle avoidance, turning instruction, and how to ride safely. Riding a motorcycle in Florida means you have to have a special endorsement on your driver's license. Florida law requires those who are getting their first endorsement to take the Basic Rider Course to obtain their endorsement.
- The Basic Rider 2 Course is an eight-hour class that also combines classroom training and hands-on experience. This advanced course offers bikers with their own motorcycles the chance to learn advanced skills in safety and bike handling. Students also have a chance to hone their skills with the instructor's guidance.
How to Survive a Motorcycle Crash
When bikers are involved in a motorcycle accident, especially rear-end collisions, they often don't see it coming. They may not have the opportunity to make choices that can reduce the likelihood of fatality.
In other cases, bikers might see another vehicle coming, have a mechanical failure, or see a road hazard they cannot avoid, so they know a crash is imminent. In these situations, a biker can make specific maneuvers that increase their chances of survival, especially when they are wearing the right gear and know how to handle their bike.
Reduce Your Speed
The faster you are traveling when a motorcycle accident occurs, the stronger the impact of the collision. When you know a crash is about to happen, you want to shed as much speed as possible. However, be careful not to lock the wheels as you do, or you risk getting thrown off your bike, putting you at risk of injuries due to other vehicles. You should apply your front brake evenly, followed by the rear brake. As you come to a stop, ease up off the rear brake to avoid skidding. Finally, focus on downshifting only after you’ve come to a complete stop.
Try Not to Lay Your Bike Down
You should do everything you can to stay upright on your bike when another car hits you and comes to a stop. It's highly unlikely you will be able to at high speeds, but try the best you can. If you can avoid getting thrown from your bike, you have a better chance of surviving a motorcycle accident.
When bikers get thrown during an accident, their bodies can slide for long distances and might even end up in traffic. If you are heading for an object, try not to collide head-on. Instead, turn your bike so that you make contact with the side of your bike. Laying a bike down in the wrong situation is a common mistake many riders make when faced with an imminent collision.
Choose a Spot to Go Down
When a motorcycle accident occurs, it's far more likely you and your bike will go down. When you have the opportunity, try to steer your bike to the safest place to go down after a vehicle hits you. Ideally, you want to go down out of the way of other traffic on the softest surface possible. This might mean heading for a grassy ditch or median. You might still suffer painful injuries, but a softer landing away from other motorists and on a more forgiving surface will increase your chances for survival.
Know When to Let Go
A point of no return exists when you know you have no way of keeping your motorcycle off the ground, and you will be going down with it. Your instinct might be to hold on to your bike, but you might get crushed if your bike lands on top of you. In an emergency, you might choose to let go of your bike. When you do, it will stay in motion for a while. Letting go is a last resort, but if you must, make sure to tuck your limbs and chin into your body and roll to avoid injury.
Get Medical Treatment Right Away
If you suffer a motorcycle accident and sustain injuries, one of the best ways to ensure you survive your injuries is to get immediate medical treatment. Hopefully, if you are unconscious or unable to move, a passerby or eyewitness will call 911 to ensure emergency response teams head your way.
Accidents pump adrenaline through a person's body. Even if you walk away from a motorcycle accident, it doesn't mean you are without fatal injuries. Internal bleeding, internal organ damage, and traumatic brain injuries can be silent killers. You likely won't feel the pain or any symptoms for hours, maybe even days, and if left untreated, you risk serious injury or death. Let a doctor examine you and run any necessary tests to ensure you are on the road to recovery.
Seek Legal Help from a Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Attorney
At Dolman Law Group, our personal injury attorneys are well aware of the risks motorcyclists face and the types of accidents they encounter. We’re dedicated to providing solutions for injured victims and can help you learn about your legal options after a crash. If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident or lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, Florida law entitles you to seek compensation for damages related to the accident and injury.
An experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney can advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances and help you hold the parties who harmed you liable for their actions.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765