Share the Road: May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Motorists have a responsibility to prevent motorcycle wrecks
The month of May is the beginning of the peak motorcycle season across most of the United States. Of course, here in Florida, it's motorcycle season all year long, but we're still participating in Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month because of the critical importance of sharing the road with bikers.
Every year, approximately 550 Florida bikers die in motorcycle crashes, according to Ride Smart Florida. Even though motorcycles only make up about 3% of registered vehicles in Florida, account for less than 1% of vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and are involved in just 2% of accidents, motorcycle riders make up 17% of traffic fatalities in our state.
While all road users have a shared responsibility for safety, drivers of cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs need to take particular care to avoid causing motorcycle accidents.
How to safely share the road with motorcycles
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is poor speed and spatial judgment on the part of other drivers. Here are some ways for motorists to effectively share the road.
- Always check twice in intersections. Safety experts recommend that drivers going left at an intersection should always look twice, once for any oncoming traffic and a second look specifically for oncoming motorcycles and bicycles. Far too many motorcycle wrecks happen when a car makes a left turn in front of an oncoming bike.
- Maintain a safe following distance. A motorcycle has a much shorter stopping distance than a car, and bikers sometimes slow down by downshifting instead of hitting their brakes, so there may not be brake lights to warn a following vehicle. It's important to maintain at least 4 seconds of following distance to ensure you have enough time to avoid a rear-end collision.
- Give a motorcycle full lane width. While a bike may physically take up less space on the road than a car, bikers still need the full lane so that they have room to maneuver around obstacles. It's extremely dangerous for a car and a motorcycle to travel side by side in the same lane, or for a car to pass a bike too closely on either side.
- Check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes. It's easy for a motorist to overlook a smaller vehicle in their blind spots. Always check and double-check before changing lanes to avoid sideswiping a motorcycle.
- Avoid distracted driving. Distracted drivers are a danger to everyone, but they are an especially acute threat to bikers. Put your phone down and keep your full attention on driving. Find a safe place to park or pull over if you must read or send a text message.
If you've been hurt in a motorcycle crash, we can help
Even with helmets and other protective gear, motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable to serious injuries in the event of a collision. Approximately 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And many of those injuries are life-altering, including nerve injuries, severe skin injuries, loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries.
That's why it's critical for motorists to share the road, and it's why motorcyclists need to know their rights under Florida law. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other costs. But insurance companies are reluctant to pay full value for motorcycle wrecks, and they have teams of attorneys and adjusters protecting their interests. You need a winning legal team on your side to level the playing field.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident in Central Florida, contact the Law Offices of Brent C. Miller today. We have the experience and resources to take on the insurance companies and get meaningful results for injured bikers. It's important to act quickly, though, before evidence is lost and legal deadlines expire. Schedule your free consultation today.