Three Easy Tips for Avoiding Bike Accidents in the Sunshine State
If you travel through the Midwest or New England during the summer or early spring, you will likely see signs posted on lawns, signs in windows, and even car decals, all warning drivers to “watch out for motorcycles.” Some have clever sayings like, “two eyes, two wheels; you do the math!” These aggressive safety campaigns are designed to get people thinking about motorcycles after spending the long winter months driving in snow and ice without a single motorcycle on the road. Florida, on the other hand, is a motorcycle enthusiast’s paradise, with 12 months of easy riding in warm weather. Logic would suggest that Floridians would be more in-tune and more likely to see motorcycles. Actually, the opposite is true. Many people are injured in auto collisions with motorcycles every year in the Tampa Bay area alone. So how can you avoid motorcycle collisions? Here are three simple tips whether you are riding or driving.
Tip #1: Be Sober!
At this point, hearing the repetitive warning, “Don’t drink and drive,” may seem almost a given. But every year, tens of thousands of people get in their cars and on their Harleys and drive around town drunk, risking their own lives and others’. Simply put, if driving under the influence is dangerous with four wheels, it is just as dangerous on two. Sadly, however, there are many who believe it is safer to ride a motorcycle after drinking than to drive a vehicle. Some even feel that, while still dangerous, at least they are only risking their own life and no one else’s. This is truly unfortunate. When a motorcyclist is intoxicated, they are more prone to veering into oncoming traffic, losing control of their bike or laying it down. In other words, intoxication means more likely to crash. This can spell disaster for the other drivers on the road who attempt to avoid the intoxicated rider.
Likewise, all motorists should remain sober, because research shows the leading cause of collisions between cars and motorcycles is the failure to see the motorcycle. And if people do not see them sober, it stands to reason they will not see them better drunk.
Tip #2: Consciously Remember the Differences
Motorcycles are different from cars and trucks. We all know this. But do we ever take time to really think about how they are different? Here are a couple examples of things to look out for.
Cars have two wide-set headlights that spread a beam of light across the entire lane of travel. Bikes usually have just one headlight that is focused on the direction of travel in front of the bike. So when you are in a car, you are usually looking for a car. When looking to turn into traffic at night, keep an eye open for small, dim, or single headlights that appear further away than normal. It may just be a car with a busted headlight, but they may also be very fast moving motorcycles.
Cars turn differently. While cars turn smoothly and evenly, motorcycles require the rider to lean into the turn rather than just turning a wheel. So, motorcycles actually dip down below the view of many side view mirrors. Always take the extra second to turn your body and double check your blind spots before backing or making lane changes.
Tip #3: Listen up
Many drivers hate the sound of a loud motorcycle blasting its pipes through a residential neighborhood, and rightly so. But on the highway, those loud pipes have a purpose. It is very hard to ignore a loud motorcycle rumbling alongside your car on the Interstate. However, a quiet and subtle bike engine can purr right by a car without the driver even noticing it.
So, while some motorcycle enthusiasts may use the noisy thrill of their bikes to annoy people, most appreciate the practical purpose of a loud engine. If you are the rider, consider how quiet your bike is and whether other motorists can hear you coming. And if you drive a regular passenger vehicle, try to keep your radio to a reasonable volume and keep your eyes and ears open for signs of two-wheelers on the road. Together, we can all share the road and enjoy a safe year-round motorcycle season. If you are a motorcyclist who has been seriously injured while riding here in Florida, be sure to consult an experienced automobile and motorcycle accident lawyer at the Romero Law Firm who can help you today.