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Motorcycle Safety FAQs
Motorcycle safety is an important consideration for anyone who rides a bike. There are many factors that come into play when thinking about motorcycle safety. Motorcycle safety focuses on understanding and considering the different dangers and risks of riding, concentrating mainly on motorcycle technology, road construction and traffic laws, rider education, and the social attitudes of other drivers concerning motorcyclists.
In order to help motorcyclists avoid injury due to traffic accidents, the Department of Transportation has put together a coalition to advise on the best leading practices of motorcycle safety. Under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, they provide information about critical riding conditions and recommend a variety of measures that can reduce the risk of injury or death due to motorcycle accidents.
What Percentage of Motorcycle Riders Get in Accidents?
There are more than 591,000 registered motorcycles in Florida which represents the second-highest number of registrations in the US. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), there were 8,895 motorcycle accidents in 2019, which was slightly lower than the more than 9,000 in 2018. This means only about 1.5% of the motorcycles on the road will be involved in a motorcycle accident in any given year. This may seem like an insignificant number, but when you realize that this number breaks down to nearly 25 motorcycle accidents per day every year in Florida, it becomes a sobering reminder of the importance of motorcycle safety.
What is the Main Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?
Data presented by the NHTSA shows that an average of 33% of all fatal motorcycle crashes involved alcohol impairment, with 28% of those being above the legal limit. In fact, the rate of motorcyclists who were driving while impaired exceeds any other type of vehicle accident. The data also show that an overwhelming percentage of motorcycle accidents occur in urban areas on city streets. This suggests that urban areas are the most hazardous for motorcyclists because of urban traffic.
How Likely is a Motorcycle Accident?
Over the years, there have been several major advances in the design of motorcycles and their parts. One of these changes was the increased use of electronics on motorcycles. Many motorcycle riders, especially those younger than 25 years old, consider their motorcycles to be just like automobiles, only much smaller. This type of view leads to several dangerous practices such as riding without a helmet, riding without proper protective gear, operating motorcycles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, ignoring red lights and stop signs, among other dangers.
Some motorcycle riders have begun to take these risks for granted. The odds of being involved in a motorcycle accident increase exponentially when the rider lets their guard down and engages in hazardous behavior. The NHTSA recommends that all riders take part in a comprehensive motorcycle safety program, which includes both classroom and ride-along training. Both these programs ensure that the participants understand how to avoid, recognize, know, and recover from motorcyclist injuries and crashes. However, research shows that most motorcyclists do not engage in such preventive measures, which has led to significant numbers of fatalities, injuries, and crashes each year.
What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents are Fatal?
According to the NHTSA, there were 4,985 motorcycle accident fatalities in 2018. This was actually a reduction in annual deaths by nearly 5%. Even though 2018’s figures represent a decrease in motorcycle fatalities, it still shows how dangerous riding a motorcycle can be.
How to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents
Due to constant traffic in hazardous urban areas, bikers and car drivers alike often end up making mistakes that cause them injury or even death. Drivers of cars often rear-end motorcycles, make sharp turns in front of them, or abruptly switch lanes without realizing a motorcycle is in their blind spot.
If you know this truth, there are several things that you can do to safely ride and avoid accidents altogether. Some of these ways include:
- Staying a safe distance from other vehicles on the road.
- Slow down when approaching intersections.
- Wear brightly-colored, reflective riding gear to make yourself more visible.
- Make eye contact with other drivers to ensure they see you.
- Take notice of other drivers’ actions, such as wheels starting to move or looking over their shoulder to change lanes.
- Never split lanes or try to overtake a vehicle in the same lane.
- Maintain your motorcycle and be sure everything is working properly.
Taking a Florida motorcycle safety course will teach you other tips and tricks to look out for on the road that can show you how to ride a motorcycle safely. It is recommended that even experienced riders take refresher courses every couple of years to stay up-to-date with their training.
How to Find a Motorcycle Safety Course on the Treasure Coast
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles site has a list of state-approved motorcycle safety courses where you can obtain the training required for a motorcycle endorsement on your license. However, every rider should consider enhancing their motorcycle safety education beyond the state minimum by attending one of the following enhanced safety courses. Keep in mind that these courses are not eligible to be used as proof of training for your license. But, they are invaluable in sharpening the safety skills of even advanced riders.
- The Basic Bike Bonding RiderCourse® (BBBRC)
- The Ultimate Bike Bonding RiderCourse® (UBBRC)
- Basic RiderCourse® (BRC2)
- Basic RiderCourse 2 updated® (BRC2u)
- The Advanced RiderCourse® (ARC)
- The Returning Rider Basic RiderCourse® (RRBRC)
What to Expect in a Motorcycle Safety Course
There are several different types of courses that you can take in order to stay safe on the road, but not all of them will be useful for you. Some of them might focus on the equipment that you will need while others might talk about the important rules that you need to follow when you’re on the road. Here’s what you can expect from a safety class.
The first thing that you can expect is that the instructor will be with you throughout the course to answer any questions you have. They will teach you all about safety equipment, how to use them properly and other important things that you should know.
Another thing that you can look forward to in this class is instruction regarding the weather conditions that you will face while you’re on the road. By learning about these weather conditions beforehand, you can be prepared for them and you can avoid them.
Something else that you can expect in a motorcycle safety class is that you’ll have the opportunity to ride your motorcycle on a course. You might think that this isn’t really necessary, but it can help you out in several different ways. For one thing, you will get a chance to see how you do in real traffic with other drivers. This portion of the course can help you better understand how well you are able to handle yourself in different situations.
In many classes, you may come across some cool gear that you might not have known about before, so make the most of it. Also, there may be some great resources that you can use while you are enjoying your time in the class. These are all good reasons why you should make the most of the time that you spend at a motorcycle safety class.
How Much Does a Motorcycle Safety Course Save on Insurance?
The amount of money you can save on your insurance by taking a motorcycle safety course will depend on your policy and provider. Several companies will offer as much as a 10% discount on your premiums, so attending motorcycle safety courses can save you money and possibly your life one day. To find out what perks your insurance company offers, you should contact them directly.
How to Ride a Motorcycle with a Passenger
How to ride a motorcycle with a passenger will probably be taught during your motorcycle safety course. However, there are some tips we can share here to help you better prepare for riding a motorcycle with passengers. If you decide that you want to try riding a motorcycle with a passenger, you will need to take into consideration your riding style and weight. Some things to keep in mind include:
- The extra weight of your passenger will affect the bike’s handling, braking, and acceleration. Smooth acceleration and braking is vital to preventing accidents.
- Have your passenger look over your shoulder and mimic your body when turning. They should avoid leaning their weight to the side to prevent falls.
- Establish some hand signals to communicate with while riding.
- Keep the bike upright as much as possible at all times.
Florida law requires that all passengers must have a designated passenger seat (unless there is an attached sidecar) that is firmly attached behind the driver’s seat. The style of the seat that you choose for your motorcycle passenger will be determined by where you plan on riding most of the time, so long as it is an approved style of seat.
Additionally, footrests are required for motorcycle passengers. As a matter of safety, remind your passenger not to place their feet on the ground when the bike comes to a stop. By keeping their feet on the footrests at all times, it will avoid possible foot or leg injuries and ensure the driver has control of the bike.
How to be a Passenger on a Motorcycle
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re a passenger on a motorcycle is to follow the directions that the driver has given you. Just as important is that you help protect yourself by wearing all the proper gear such as a helmet and reflective, protective clothing. Some other helpful tips for being a good motorcycle passenger include:
- Sit close to the back of the driver to better mimic their body language as you ride. Avoid locking onto the driver too tightly, but remain as close as comfortably possible.
- Don’t move around too much. Movement can be startling to the driver, so try to remain still, without being too rigid.
- Learn and use the hand signals the driver likes to use. They can save you from trying to yell over the noise of the wind.
- If you have long hair, tie it back to keep it out of your (and the driver’s) face.
- Hold onto the driver’s waist, not their shoulders. Alternatively, if the motorcycle has passenger handgrips, they are best to help you steady yourself.
- Brace yourself in preparation for stopping. The gas tank can help you do this.
- Keep an eye out for hazards and alert the driver with a hand signal if you see something they may not see.
What to wear as a motorcycle passenger
Wearing the proper attire while riding a motorcycle is essential to ensure your safety. When you are planning to take your motorcycle out on the road, you should always consider safety first and your comfort second. To this end, there are some important things to wear when you are a passenger on a motorcycle:
- Wear long pants and shoes that cover your ankles. The last thing you want is to be burned by the muffler.
- A DOT-approved helmet can save your life. Wear one.
- A leather riding jacket can help protect your upper body from road rash and injuries in the event of an accident.
- Elbow and knee pads can do wonders for keeping your joints safe if the bike takes a tumble.
Be sure to check out FLHSMV’s Ride Proud, Dress Loud recommendations for more tips on appropriate motorcycle riding attire.
Do Motorcycle Passengers Have to Wear a Helmet?
Data from the NHTSA suggests that 71% of riders in the US used DOT-compliant helmets in 2018, which could help explain the decrease in fatalities from that same year. However, the statistics also show that motorcycle passenger helmet use was slightly lower at 68%. Oddly enough, riders used helmets more often when they had passengers with them compared to solo rides.
But, the numbers are starkly different when looking at Florida motorcycle riders. The number of riders that do or don’t wear a helmet is split pretty close down the middle of 51%-49% due to Florida’s helmet laws. Regardless of whether you are required to wear a helmet as a motorcycle passenger, it pays to wear one.
In Florida alone, 174 lives and nearly $315 million in medical costs are saved every year by riders and passengers wearing helmets. However, a helmet must meet certain safety guidelines for it to be effective. Helmets that are not DOT-Compliant will not provide the same protections and are considered unsafe.
Can a Child be a Passenger on a Motorcycle in Florida?
Yes, children are allowed to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle in Florida. However, because they are under 21, they are also required to wear a helmet. It is a good idea to have a special passenger seat designed for younger children, otherwise, you may find yourself violating child restraint laws.
Make sure the motorcycle seat is installed firmly, with a proper seat belt. You should also check the harness straps, as well as buckles, to make sure they are in good working order. If you have any doubts about the safety of the seats or the quality of the harnesses, it would be best to check with an expert at your local dealership.
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