Don’t Be an Untrained Motorcyclist
Riding is a lifestyle – one that many choose either early or later in life. While motorcycles are generally cheaper to purchase and maintain than traditional motor vehicles, there is a reason Florida law requires riders to obtain a specialized motorcycle license.
Florida weather is generally conducive to riding all year round but sudden rain storms and hazardous road conditions mean it is important not only to know how to ride safely in such conditions, but also to know your bike, including its weight, handling, and suspension system. Riding can be a freeing experience but it also presents many dangers to those who choose that lifestyle. It is reported that 90 percent of riders involved in motorcycle accidents have not taken specialized motorcycle training courses and nearly 30 percent of riders involved in a crash never got licensed at all.
Don’t be an untrained motorcyclist! Although accidents, especially on curvy roads, can happen to any rider, there are certain steps you can take to help prevent accidents and the personal injuries they cause.
Florida Motorcycle Regulations
The State of Florida does require all motorcyclists to be licensed, which means, like with a driver’s license, you must learn motorcycle safety and operation. The Florida Motorcycle Manual is provided to those seeking a Florida motorcycle license, and although the lessons contained therein are invaluable to new riders, it reports that the leading cause of motorcycle accidents and death in Florida residents is alcohol. Further, it contains important riding and safety regulations that apply to Florida motorcyclists as well as training opportunities, including, but not limited to, the following:
Florida’s “Move Over Law” – This law applies to riders and requires them to slow to a speed of 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit and “move over” for emergency vehicles. Just because a motorcycle is small and more maneuverable than a regular motor vehicle does not exempt riders from this regulation;
The Florida Rider Training Program (FRTP) – teaches basic motorcycle safety and is required to obtain a motorcycle license;
Sidecar/Trike Evaluation Program – must be completed by those intending to operate three-wheel motorcycles, and
Basic Rider Course II – Although not required, this course is for those who already have their certification and are looking to improve their riding and safety skills.
It should be noted that Florida law grants motorcyclists the same right to use public roads and highways as drivers of traditional motor vehicles, but riders may not overtake and pass a vehicle when it is in the same lane occupied by that vehicle; they may not operate between lanes of traffic; and they may not operate side-by-side in the same lane. Although these behaviors are permitted in some states and are especially tempting in high traffic conditions, they are illegal and dangerous to both riders and drivers.
Common Motorcycle Accidents and Crash Factors
Other than alcohol and drug-related factors, one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is curving roads and sharp turns. If a curve is taken too quickly on a motorcycle, because your center of gravity is lower to the ground and the bike is lighter, it is easy to lose your balance and traction and spin out of control. This is especially likely if the ground is slick because there is less friction. For this reason, it is important to know your bike, including the pressure needed to be applied to your front and rear brakes, the center of gravity of the bike, how smooth your clutch and throttle are, the traction on your tires, and the hydraulic fluid levels for shock impact.
Safety experts also recommend making sure that riders begin with a bike and engine that is right for their skill level. Riding the wrong bike or a bike you are not accustomed to or that is too big for you is also another leading cause of motorcycle accidents. Accordingly, a 125cc engine is a great bike for beginners, as it is a small, light bike, but you should not get your license and jump on a Ninja, as that bike requires a more serious skill level. Although it is tempting to ride your “dream bike” as soon as you get your license, it is important to take your motorcycle training step-by-step so as to protect yourself and those you share the road with.
Safety and Prevention of Motorcycle Accidents
While in Florida wearing a motorcycle helmet is optional for those over the age of 21 who carry personal injury insurance, using the right gear can help prevent not only traumatic brain injuries but minor injuries and burns as well. The following gear is recommended for all those riding a motorcycle and in all weather conditions:
- Federally approved motorcycle helmet;
- Leather or synthetic gloves;
- A leather or motorcycle approved jacket;
- All weather eyewear;
- Long motorcycle pants, and
- Thick boots that cover your ankles.
Overall, you are taking a risk when you choose a motorcycle over a traditional motor vehicle, as you are trading maneuverability for exposure; however, there are steps you can take to help keep you safe on the road and prevent personal injuries. Taking extra precautions, such as signing up for Florida’s optional extra rider safety courses and knowing what you can and can’t handle on a bike, can help you enjoy riding even more and avoid liability for a motorcycle accident.
Contact a Clearwater Motorcycle Attorney for Questions
If you have a question about obtaining your motorcycle certification either as a new driver or attempting to get your license reinstated after a DUI, it is important to contact a personal injury and motorcycle attorney in your area who understands Florida motorcycle law and regulations. Further, if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident because another driver did not “share the road,” remember that you have rights as a rider, and the Dolman Law Group can help fight for those rights. They are your premier motorcycle lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area. Call them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765