Prevent Motorcycle Crashes This Summer — And All Year
May was Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Florida and throughout the country. The awareness campaign corresponds to the month when motorcycles get taken out again in many parts of the country after a long winter. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to prevent motorcycle accidents by reminding motorists to keep an eye out for motorcycles on the roads and to remember that motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges as other motor vehicles.
In Florida, motorists must be aware of motorcyclists year round, but it never hurts to revisit how you can drive or ride more safely. It is always important for motorcyclists to be aware of the most up-to-date safety information.
For example, motorcyclists are reminded to wear helmets for safer riding and to prevent brain injuries. Motorcyclists 21 and older who can prove they are covered by medical insurance are not required by law to wear helmets in Florida, but it is strongly recommended by all safety organizations to prevent traumatic brain injuries and increase the chances of surviving a crash.
According to the NHTSA, helmets saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclists in 2008. Use of helmets by motorcyclists increased to 67 percent in 2009, up from 48 percent in 2006. In 2011, the rate of helmet use by motorcyclists in Florida was lower at 49.3 percent. In 2010, 37 percent of people who died in motorcycle crashes were not wearing helmets.
The NHTSA website contains information for motorcyclists on choosing the right helmet and how to spot an unsafe helmet or one that only pretends to meet federal safety standards. For example, safe helmets should have a thick inner liner and weigh about three pounds. Safe helmets should also have sturdy chin straps with solid rivets. If a helmet is made to meet federal safety standards, it will not interfere with vision or hearing.
The NHTSA also reminds motorcyclists not to drink and ride. Driving a motorcycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can easily result in a fatal accident for a motorcyclist. According to an NHTSA study in Florida and Kentucky, if a driver had alcohol in his or her system, the risk of crashing was five times higher than for a sober driver.
Because a motorcycle does not offer the same protective features as a car, motorcyclists have to always drive defensively and be particularly aware of what is going on around them. Because a motorcyclist is particularly vulnerable in a crash, he or she must always be aware of other motorists who may be driving while intoxicated or not paying attention.
Improve Your Riding Skills With A Motorcycle Safety Course
Most states offer motorcycle safety skills courses for beginning through advanced riders. The Florida Rider Training Program (FRTP) uses training curriculum from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, an organization that offers beginner through advanced safety courses throughout the country. You must take the FRTP’s introductory course on the fundamentals of safe riding to obtain a motorcycle only license or a motorcycle endorsement.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation website is a great resource for safe riding information, including a video that discusses the right protective clothing to wear when riding a motorcycle. The video compares a rider with “fool’s gear” versus a rider wearing “cool gear.” The rider with fool’s gear is wearing flip flops, shorts and a T-shirt. The rider with the right equipment has a proper helmet and face shield, gloves, sturdy boots, thick pants and a leather jacket.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or a family member was injured or killed due to the negligence of another driver in Florida, contact a qualified personal injury attorney.