Motorcyclists are uniquely situated in discussions of potential dangers on the road. Motorcycles are not as stable as other vehicles, nor are they as visible on the road to other drivers. As a result, a motorcyclist is exposed to a variety of risks while driving. Thus, it is essential that a motorcyclist become aware of those risks.
A motorcyclist is 26% more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than standard automobile drivers. Also, motorcyclists are five times more likely to sustain an injury from an accident. Two-thirds of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles result from a right of way violation. A motorcyclist does not have the same protections while driving, and consequently, they face extremely high fatality rates. The lack of substantial protective barriers for a motorcycle and the difficulty motorists face in anticipating and spotting motorcycles on the road are reasons for these high rates. Unfortunately, these factors leave motorcyclists prone to serious injury, or even death, in the event of an accident.
Motorcycles are more vulnerable to accidents than standard vehicles for many reasons:
- Visual recognition: Motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles and, therefore, much less visible to drivers. Lack of visibility for drivers also worsens depending on the weather.
- Road hazards: While puddles, debris, uneven pavements, and railroad tracks might affect standard vehicles, it can be disastrous for motorcycles.
- Speed: The faster a motorcycle goes, the more unstable, shaky, or wobbly it becomes. It is also possible that repetitive misalignment can cause the front and rear tires to become defective.
- Riding skills: Operating a motorcycle requires considerable skill and awareness. Lack of experience with operating a motorcycle can also leave the driver more vulnerable to accidents.
Insurance laws may differ for motorcycles. In Florida, a motorcyclist is not required to obtain insurance on his or her motorcycle. Motorcycles are excluded from Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) statute. However, motorcyclists may purchase “medical payments coverage” as part of an auto insurance policy to cover medical expenses that may arise in the event of an accident.
There are several ways to keep yourself safe if you choose to operate a motorcycle. The most important safety measure is wearing a helmet at all times while riding and avoid purchasing a larger and more powerful bike than you might be able to handle. Additionally, a motorcyclist should be able to place both feet on the ground while remaining seated. A motorcyclist should invest in antilock brakes, which are generally not standard features for all motorcycles. If it is your first time riding a motorcycle, learn to be a defensive driver by wearing the appropriate gear, such as sturdy shoes, leather jackets, pants, gloves, and eyewear. Lastly, avoid driving in poor weather conditions because rain and harsh winds can put you at a greater risk of an accident.
It is important to be aware that making alterations to your motorcycle can release the manufacturer from liability and potentially put you at a greater risk. If you choose to modify your motorcycle, make sure to rely on a reputable dealership or a motorcycle shop with the appropriate licensing.