point of view of helmet while person rides a motorcycle on the highway during a vibrant sunset
10 May

Motorcycle Awareness Month: 10 Safety Tips Riders Should Keep in Mind

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time to highlight the importance of safe riding practices. Every year, thousands of motorcyclists are involved in accidents that can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are 22 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash.

As a personal injury firm, we understand the devastating impact these accidents can have on riders and their families. With these tips, we intend to promote safety on the road and provide riders with legal support when accidents occur.

Tip #1: Take a Motorcycle Safety Course

Before hitting the road, whether you're a new rider or have years of experience, a motorcycle safety course can be invaluable. As a novice, you’ll learn key safety tactics for riding, or as an experienced rider, you can brush up on your knowledge. The Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, in particular, offers courses and resources to teach riding skills and strategies for dealing with emergencies on the road.

Tip #2: Check Your Bike Before You Ride

A pre-ride inspection can prevent accidents. Some important items to check out before you even hop on your motorcycle are:

  1. Tires – Are they properly inflated? Are there any signs of wear, cracks, or bulges? Make sure the tread depth is adequate for safe handling and braking.
  2. Brakes – Do both the front and rear brakes feel firm and secure when applied? Are the brake pads adequately thick? Are there any signs of hydraulic fluid leakage?
  3. Lights & Signals – Is the headlight bright and functioning? Are the brake lights and turn signals working? Do all lights switch on and off?
  4. Fluid Levels – Are the oil, coolant, and brake fluid levels within safe limits?
  5. Chain & Belt – Is the chain or drive belt tensioned correctly? Any signs of wear or damage? Are the sprockets in good condition?

These items can easily be checked off before starting your ride, but if you prefer a more in-depth checklist before riding, see the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for more information.

Tip #3: Wear Appropriate Gear

Protecting yourself starts with the right gear. Wearing a helmet that meets or exceeds U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards can significantly reduce the risk of fatal injuries. Also, wearing protective clothing like jackets and pants made from abrasion-resistant materials, gloves, and durable footwear enhances your safety, reducing the risk of road rash.

Tip #4: Ride Sober

Impairment from alcohol or drugs drastically affects your reaction time, balance, and judgment. Statistics show that riding under the influence increases the likelihood of accidents. In 2021, motorcyclists had the highest percentage of drunk operators compared to cars or trucks. And solely over Labor Day weekend, 32% of motorcycle riders were killed while riding under the influence.

Drunk motorcyclists may also find it challenging to receive compensation in a personal injury lawsuit due to their own negligence in contributing to the accident. To avoid an accident after drinking, plan a sober ride home and arrange a safe place to park their motorcycle to ensure their safety and others’ safety.

Tip #5: Follow Traffic Rules

Obeying traffic laws is a cornerstone of safe driving and riding. This includes observing speed limits, obeying traffic signals and signs, and using your turn signals. Adhering to these rules helps make your actions predictable to other drivers, reducing the risk of accidents.

Tip #6: Stay Visible

Motorcyclists often fall into a vehicle's blind spots, so make yourself as visible as possible. Wear brightly colored clothing and ensure your motorcycle has reflective materials to catch the light. Using your headlights day and night also increases your visibility to other drivers. Position yourself on the road where you can be seen clearly and avoid lingering in blind spots, especially near larger vehicles like trucks and buses.

Tip #7: Ride Defensively

Similar to staying visible, always assume that other drivers may not see you. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles, stay out of blind spots, and be ready to take evasive action if necessary.

Defensive riding also means knowing potential hazards before they become immediate threats. This approach includes anticipating the actions of other drivers, such as sudden stops, merges, or changes in lanes. By riding defensively, you not only protect yourself but also give other drivers a chance to react to your presence safely.

Tip #8: Use Safe Passing Techniques

When passing vehicles, do so quickly and safely. Ensure you are visible to other drivers, signal your intentions early, and don’t linger in the blind spot. Always check for oncoming traffic before passing on two-lane roads, and never pass on the right, where drivers are less likely to expect you. Be particularly cautious in areas with heavy traffic or limited visibility. Effective passing is not just about overtaking; it’s about maintaining control and visibility throughout the maneuver.

Tip #9: Avoid Bad Weather

Bad weather reduces visibility and affects your bike's handling. If you encounter rain, fog, or other adverse conditions, consider waiting it out or taking a route that offers safer conditions.

Wet or icy roads can significantly increase your stopping distance and reduce your tire’s grip on the road. If you must ride in poor weather, reduce your speed and increase your following distance. Remember, your safety is more important than arriving on time.

Tip #10: Stay Alert

Maintain focus on the road and surrounding environment. Avoid distractions like mobile phones and be aware of road conditions and traffic dynamics around you. To prevent accidents, look for road hazards like potholes, debris, and abrupt changes in road conditions. Also, monitor the behavior of pedestrians and other vehicles, as their actions can be unpredictable. Staying alert and attentive allows you to respond quickly to potential dangers.

Unfortunately, even the most cautious riders can find themselves involved in accidents, often due to the negligence of others. It is also important to note the recent changes in Florida law. As of March 24, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 837, Civil Remedies, into law, which shortens the statute of limitations period for general negligence and personal injury cases from four years to two. This change underscores the urgency for motorcyclists involved in accidents to seek legal guidance promptly.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to reach out to Carrillo Injury Law. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of your case and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.