According to the NHTSA, roughly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents each year. Sometimes motorcycle fatalities go up and down by a small degree, but never by very much. This means that nearly 14 people die every day in the US because of motorcycle crashes. This statistics highlights the danger of being involved in a motorcycle accident and the risk of riding in general. But to those who love to ride, no statistics will stop them.
Instead, let’s focus on ways that we can make riding a motorcycle in New Port Richey and surrounding Florida cities safe. This includes following some standard safety guidelines, taking experts advice about proper gear, and understanding the unique hazards that motorcyclists face in Florida. Hopefully, reading this article will increase awareness about how to stay safe while riding a motorcycle in the Sunshine State and what to do if you are in a motorcycle accident in Pinellas County.
Motorcycle Safety in New Port Richey
Motorcyclists in Florida should do everything they can to stay safe on the roads. It’s a dangerous hobby, but one that is wholly fulfilling if everyone stays safe.
A recent study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that in collisions involving a motorcycle and a car, car drivers were at fault 60 percent of the time. Motorcyclists need to be extra alert, especially in this age of epidemic phone use and texting behind the wheel. Cars need to look twice for motorcyclists, but riders to need to be looking out for them too. After all, it’s always better to rely on yourself than others when it comes to precautions.
Keep it Slow
Feeling the wind rush by and the throttle in your hand can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s a fact that speed kills on motorcycles. In fact, 33% of people who died on a motorcycle in 2015 were speeding. If you want to stay as safe as possible, slower is better.
Ride as if Invisible.
Motorcyclists should ride as if they are invisible. If a motorcycle driver assumes that no one sees them, they are less likely to be surprised when someone actually pulls in front of them. This is known as defensive driving, and it’s a must for Florida riders. Wooded areas, construction zones, and general distractions make drivers less likely to see on coming motorcyclists.
When you’re in a car and something goes wrong, you can quickly yank the wheel and slam on the brakes. However, motorcyclists must perform physical feats when trying to avoid a collision. Riders have to twist their bodies, find a balance between braking and steering, and maintain balance to keep from sliding or flying over the handlebars. These maneuvers aren’t easy and they’re usually not second nature to newer riders. In preparation for the inevitable moment when you’ll have to perform an evasive maneuver, get out and practice these skills. Practice emergency braking and steering in an empty parking lot. Train your body with repetition, develop new muscle memories, and teach your mind to stay calm. The more you practice the safer you’ll be when you have to swerve to miss that driver who’s sending one last text.
Proper Motorcycle Gear in Florida
Some riders have to worry about how the dreaded summer months will effect their ability to ride and to stay safe, but in Florida those hot months are pretty much year-round. With scorching daytime heat and high humidity, wearing the proper safety gear in Florida can be a challenge. Riders want to stay cool and look good, but the trick is to stay safe while doing it. Let’s admit it, wearing the proper safety gear while riding in Florida can be a challenge.
But don’t forgo safety just yet. Technology has come a long way when it comes to motorcycle safety and beating the heat. Vented gear provides an excellent combination of protection while also allowing air to freely flow around the rider’s body. This cooling affect can be a life saver when temperatures reach 95 degrees or more. Florida riders can buy ventilated jackets, vented jerseys, perforated gloves, vented pants, and even vented footwear. Helmet companies have also started producing helmets with super effective ventilation systems.
When it comes to riding, staying safe is a must; especially in Florida where riding can be more dangerous and riders can be tempted to leave the safety gear at home.
To ensure that you’re not putting yourself at risk of a motorcycle accident injury, riders should always be sure that they have at least:
It’s important to know that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle reduces the chance of fatality by 50%. That means that you are twice as likely to die when not wearing a helmet. If anything should encourage you to deal with the slight inconvenience of wearing a helmet, it should be this statistic. Although a helmet is not required by law in Florida (except for those under 21), they are must when it comes to safety. If motorcyclists saw the number of injuries that my firm receives from a simple lack of helmet, they would never leave home without theirs again.
When it comes to getting a helmet, be sure it meets the Department of Transportation safety standards. Also, although Florida doesn’t require riders over 21 to wear a helmet, they do require that you have at least $10,000 in medical coverage insurance if you want to take the risk.
Remember, if you are going to have a passenger on your motorcycle, ensure that they have proper safety gear too. It is not enough for just one person to be protected and the other exposed. If you’re gonna ride a bike or ride on a bike, be prepared with the proper gear.
Wearing a protective jacket is a must if you have to lay your bike down or you get into an unfortunate motorcycle accident. My skin loves to rub against hot asphalt at 60 MPH, said no body ever. Jackets come in unlimited styles these days, so finding one to fit your budget and style should be easy. Whatever you choose, whether it’s leather or Kevlar, padded or not, just don’t ride without it.
In Florida, the hot weather can make you seriously question how necessary each piece of clothing your wearing really is. But gloves are a must when it comes to riding a motorcycle in Florida. Not only do we see frequent rain and bugs, which hurt a lot when hitting your knuckles at 50 MPH, but in the event you have to lay your bike down, you’ll be glad you have them. Ever tried to pick your nose without a finger? It isn’t easy.
Some Type of Eyewear
Florida does require motorcycle riders to wear some sort of eye protection when hitting the open road; and for good reason too. Protective eye wear not only keeps the wind out of your eyes making it easier to see, but it also keep flying debris and insects out of your eyes too. Ever heard of lovebugs? Well if you just moved to Florida, you’ll find out about them soon enough.
Pants or Chaps
Not only will chaps or riding pants help to keep you clean and dry while also protecting you from flying debris, they’ll also provide much more protection in the event any of your body parts touch the ground. Old school riders wear leather chaps for a reason. If your knees touch the raging hot asphalt at high speed, you’ll be glad you made the investment. Good protective pants will also have reinforcement in areas that more likely to rub the concrete (i.e. the butt, hips, and knees). They may also have additional padding and armor as well.
In the event that you come off your motorcycle involuntarily, a good pair of motorcycle boots will make the difference between debilitating injury and no damage at all. Some people choose to wear a quality pair of heavy leather work boots, which of course is better than sneakers or flip-flops, but boots made specifically for motorcycle riding will provide specialized protection from injury for your feet, ankles, and shins.
Riders may also consider wearing:
- Ear Plugs
- Reflective Clothing
- Chest Armor
- Knee and Elbow Pads
As we mentioned earlier, riding in Florida can be hotter than devil’s armpit (too corny?), but almost every one of these protective items can be found in a ventilated or cooling form. You may have to spend a little extra to get a ventilated jacket or to up-grade your helmet, but the reduction in heat and the improved safety—since you wont be tempted to not wear it—is nearly priceless.
Hazards for Motorcyclist in Pinellas County
Anywhere you ride, there are bound to be unique hazards for motorcyclists. Just the idea of riding on a powerful, two-wheeled machine with no exo-protection is dangerous enough. However, Florida offers some unique hazards that may make riding here more dangerous. In fact, the statistics back up this notion. And while it may be unclear why, Florida has the most motorcycle fatalities in the nation, according to a report from the NHTSA. In Florida, motorcyclists accounted for 19% of motor vehicle fatalities, while only making up about 7% of motorists.
Why is it more dangerous to ride in Florida? One reason could have something to do with our no helmet law. However, there are other hazards that make Florida a more dangerous place to cruise. Let’s look at some hazards for motorcyclists that are unique to Florida.
If you grew up in Florida, or have lived here for any length of time, you’re familiar with sugar sand. Sugar sand is one Florida’s unique features, caused by millions of years of erosion to crystal, coral, and shells. This thin and dry substance is great when it comes to long walks on Florida beaches, but it can be a nightmare on Florida roads. When sugar sand builds up on road shoulders or in less trafficked areas, it can create a serious hazard for motorcyclists. It only takes a small amount of this slippery sand to cause your tires to lose traction and the rider to lose control. Keep an eye out for this type of hazard while cruising the Florida streets.
Everyone knows that Florida roads always seem to be under construction. Interstate 4 is notorious for this problem; but many other major roads in Florida seem to suffer the same fate. Constructions zones create windy turns, unexpected items in the road way, congestion, and difficult-to-navigate obstacles. Similarly, the DOT allows for roadways to change height by as much as 1.5″ without any gradient. This can be treacherous for motorcycle riders. Remember to slow down.
Wildlife is one of the great things about living in a state with so much undeveloped land. However, these animals can also present a serious hazard to riders. Deer, bears, armadillo, and opossums are prone to running out into Florida roads. If you are riding, especially at night or on a rural road, be extra cautious to prevent these beautiful creatures from becoming a dreadful disaster. Even small animals can create serious issues for two-wheeled machines, much less a 100 LB deer or 400 LB bear.
I mentioned earlier that love bug season (4-weeks during May and September) can cause a serious hazard for Florida motorcycle riders. But our humid and rural landscape also promotes the population of many other insects. Mosquitoes, moths, dragonflies, bees, and hundred of other flying creatures make Florida home. And it only takes one bug flying into a rider’s eye to cause a serious problem. (See why eye protection is so important?)
The state of Florida receives 60 inches of rain every year. Likewise, it rains about 100 days out of the year. No surprise here, wet roads are hazardous. The more it rains, the more dangerous it is to ride; and it rains a lot here. Additionally, Florida is the lighting capital of America. Pinellas County and similar coastal areas are particularly at risk. If a storm is getting out of control, either from lightning or rainfall while you’re out for a ride, find a place to grab a bite to eat and wait it out.
Contact a New Port Richey Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important to speak to a New Port Richey motorcycle accident attorney. At the Dolman Law Group, our team of highly skilled motorcycle accident attorneys have helped many victims obtain the recovery they deserve for their injuries and related losses. Please call our New Port Richey office at 727-853-6275 today.
Motorcycle in rain: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/
Motorcycle safety: http://www.misawa.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2000856940/mediaid/1128605/