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Motorcycle Safety: How Does State Law Help?

By Brent C. Miller, Esquire

For those enthusiasts who ride motorcycles, it is no surprise that drivers of cars and trucks tend to not respect the rights of bikers. In the course of my law practice, we represent bikers who have been involved in serious accidents through no fault of their own. In most cases, our clients basically had "nowhere to go" and had no chance of avoiding the negligent consequences of careless drivers.

 

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The Florida legislature has taken some steps to help protect bikers from, or at least minimize, injuries that can occur in the unfortunate event of an accident. Although controversial among some bikers, laws pertaining to helmet safety, eyewear, headlights and licensing requirements have, statistically, decreased injuries and fatalities.

Laws regarding the requirement to wear helmets and eye protection while operating a motorcycle vary from state to state. Generally, in Florida, a person may not operate or ride a motorcycle unless the person is wearing a helmet securely fastened upon his or her head which complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standards. However, any person over the age of 21 may ride without a helmet if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries as a result of a crash when operating or riding on a motorcycle.

It would be my guess that most bikers who have ridden for a reasonable period of time have had bugs, dirt and other foreign objects strike them in the face. Such forms the basis in Florida law for the requirement that any person operating a motorcycle must wear protective eyewear. Whether a person has goggles or an eye guard attached to his or her helmet, such protective gear is mandatory while operating your bike.

Many insurance companies do offer insurance coverage to motorcyclists. Such coverage not only protects the motorcyclist in the event he or she causes an accident, but also may provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if he or she is injured by a driver who either has no insurance or not enough insurance coverage. These same insurance companies will also offer the $10,000 medical expense coverage needed to ride without a helmet.

Any motorcycle being operated on Florida roadways must be equipped with at least one, but not more than two, headlights. As with helmet laws, such headlights must comply with certain specifications set forth within Florida statutes. For the most part, motorcycle manufacturers comply with Florida requirements. Your local motorcycle dealership should be able to assist you to ensure your compliance.

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