Essential Tips for Motorcycle Safety
While we all share the responsibility for safe and defensive driving, motorcyclists need to understand that they are operating a vehicle that is known to be quite hazardous on the roads. In many ways, this means they have a duty to be more attentive to their surroundings than other drivers.
By always following the motorcycle safety rules, you can help reduce the frequency of motorcycle accidents significantly. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers a free online motorcycle safety handbook with great information and tips for riding safely.
According to FLHSMV, Hillsborough county alone had 656 motorcycle crashes, with 31 fatalities in 2018. Understanding the anatomy of a motorcycle accident can help you better understand how to avoid accidents in the first place.
How Can Defensive Driving Help Avoid a Motorcycle Accident?
Seven types of motorcycle accidents occur frequently. A good rule of thumb is always to assume the cars around you are oblivious to your existence. While not every accident can be prevented, you can lower your chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident by practicing defensive driving. Some defensive driving techniques to remember:
- Try to make eye contact with drivers who appear to be preparing to make a left turn.
- Be aware of your surroundings and look for obstructions that might make it harder for drivers to see you.
- Pay attention to the direction of a driver’s tires if they seem to be preparing to make a turn.
- Take note of drivers around you who appear to be scanning traffic or otherwise distracted.
- Be observant of where other vehicles are around you, areas you can move into to avoid an accident and other hazards such as upcoming traffic signals.
How do I Avoid a Left Turn Motorcycle Accident?
To help avoid this type of accident, be sure always to pay close attention to your surroundings. When approaching an intersection, scan for cars that appear to be waiting to make a left turn, gaps in traffic in front of you, and a driver quickly looking both ways. If you see these things, move to the outermost lane, if possible. Slow down and prepare to take evasive action if the wheels begin to move.
How do I Avoid a Lane Switch Motorcycle Accident?
As the second-most common type of motorcycle accident, large vehicles switching lanes often fail to check their blind spots for motorcycles. Familiarize yourself with the blind spots of the various types of cars and steer clear of lingering in those areas. While you can’t always avoid being in their blind spots all the time, look for other signs a car is about to switch lanes, such as:
- Turn signals begin to flash
- The wheels begin to turn
- You can see the driver checking their mirrors
- The driver begins looking around as if trying to check their blind spots
If you observe these signs, slow down to bring yourself out of potential blind spots and allow the car to merge. Don’t try to speed up to get ahead of them as you may startle them and cause them to make a mistake.
How do I Avoid a Head-On Motorcycle Accident?
There are “Four Rs” of defensive driving that applies to both car safety and motorcycle safety to help riders avoid head-on accidents:
- Read the road ahead — Always be looking for possible hazards in front of you.
- Drive to the Right — Whenever possible, stay in the right lane. If on a two-lane road, keep to the right to put a greater distance between you and drivers going in the opposite direction.
- Reduce your speed — A difference of even 10 mph can have an immensely positive impact on the likelihood of sustaining injuries in a crash. If it appears a driver near you is not paying close attention to the road, reduce your speed, and put as much distance between you and them as possible.
- Ride off the road — This ties into the second “R” of riding on the right. If you are approaching a hazard, slow down and merge onto the shoulder or into the grass. However, remember that debris can collect along the shoulder, which may cause your tires to lose traction. So, if you are forced to ride onto the shoulder, keep your tires pointed straight ahead to avoid wiping out.
How do I Avoid a Lane Splitting Motorcycle Accident?
In Florida, lane splitting is illegal. So, the easiest way to avoid an accident caused by lane splitting is just not to do it. When you’re sandwiched between two vehicles, you leave yourself no room to take evasive actions. However, if you choose to take the chance by breaking the law, use the techniques mentioned above to scan the road for hazards.
How do I Avoid an Intoxication Motorcycle Accident?
According to NHTSA, there were 4,885 motorcycle fatalities in 2017. Of those fatalities, alcohol-impairment played a significant role in 1,357, or nearly 28%. Additionally, 61% of deaths occurred at night on the weekend. If you’re planning a fun night out, don’t drink. If you do drink, plan ahead, and use a rideshare service to take you out and bring you home safely.
How do I Avoid a Corner Turning Motorcycle Accident?
To help avoid a corner turning motorcycle accident, remember this good rule of thumb: “Slow in, Fast out.” Initiate the corner turn slowly to give yourself a wider field of vision and more time to react. Once you determine there are no hazards and clear the corner, speed up to your regular speed.
Avoid veering into the shoulder or other areas that are not commonly driven upon as these areas can collect debris, which can make your tires lose traction. Losing traction while rounding a corner is the most common way riders wipe out.
If you misjudged the curve and find yourself heading into it too fast, do not panic by hitting your brakes hard or straightening out your wheels. This may send you veering into the oncoming lane or off the road. Instead, lean into the turn and keep your line-of-sight straight ahead as your hands will follow your eyes.
How do I Avoid a High-Speed Motorcycle Accident?
The speed limit is posted for a reason. Excessive speeding causes accidents. Always obey the speed limit. Several speed parks in Florida are designated places you can visit to satiate your need for speed legally. You can also find several Florida motorcycle drag racing parks. Always remember to keep your speeding thrills confined to legal courses and off the public highways.
Where do I go for Motorcycle Safety Courses?
Safety courses are not only recommended, but it is also required by law in Florida to obtain a motorcycle driver’s license, and you will need to complete the Florida Rider Training Program (FRTP). Other motorcycle safety resources include the following and have a wealth of great information for riding safely:
- Florida Motorcycle Safety Coalition
- NHTSA Motorcycle Safety Program
- Motorcycle Safety Foundation
- National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA)
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, reach out to Darrigo and Diaz’s expert team of experienced motorcycle accident attorneys. We will fight for you to receive the compensation you deserve for medical bills, repairs to your bike, recovery of lost wages, and much more. Contact us today at (813) 774-3341 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation or reach out to us online.