6 Motorcycle Safety Tips | Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents When it Rains
by Andrew L. Shapiro
It’s that time of year again. As we saw yesterday, the start of winter’s rainy season is encroaching.
That means motorcycle safety becomes even more critical when you factor in decreased visibility, an increased distance needed for braking, and the added consideration that it doesn’t rain often enough for Californians to be really good at adjusting to wet road conditions.
Many drivers still won’t factor in additional time to commute when it rains. So they’re still in a rush to get to work, the kids’ activities, schools and all of the other varied functions that regulate our lives.
When it rains, traveling becomes riskier for those in cars and trucks, and critically dangerous for motorcycle riders.
In light of all of this, it may be time to take a deep breath, and rehash basic motorcycle safety tips:
1. Be Ready for Anything: As every motorcycle rider learns when they get their first bike, anything can happen. When it rains, be prepared for additional hazards like automobile drivers who:
▪ Forget to turn on their defrosters,
▪ Don’t maintain their wipers, or
▪ Change lanes to zip around slower moving traffic in frustration.
Also be prepared for tsunami-like waves of water hitting you as other drivers plow through deep puddles in low-lying intersections. Helmets with face shields can help, but if you get hit with a LOT of water, the force can throw off your balance.
2. Assume Other Drivers Don’t See You (i.e., you are invisible): If automobile drivers have a hard time seeing you in dry weather, imagine how much harder it is when it rains, or when there’s fog. Also imagine how much harder it is for you to see other cars, particularly if they are grey, silver, white or don’t have lights on.
3. Wear the Proper Gear: Helmets are mandatory in California; sturdy boots, heavy jackets and gloves are just plain smart.
4. Slow it down: This should be an obvious one, especially if it rains. But even if it’s not raining and you feel a need for speed, you should take your bike to a track or course where there will be less hazards.
Manhole covers, metal road construction plates, painted surfaces – all of these things get a lot slipperier when it rains.
5. Keep Your Head Moving: Don’t get tunnel vision when riding, especially when it rains. Always look to the sides, over your shoulders and check your mirrors. The more potential dangers you can spot ahead of time, the safer you’ll be.
6. If You Don’t Feel Safe, Don’t Ride: If the weather conditions cause you to be fearful or insecure, park the bike and find an alternate form of transportation until the skies clear.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cites the federal government with these statistics:
The number of motorcycle riders who died in 2007 was 37 times the number of car deaths, per mile traveled. In 2008, over 5,000 motorcycle accidents resulted in fatalities for the riders. That was the highest number of deaths recorded since the government began keeping track in 1975.
Let’s not add to these figures. As a motorcycle rider, you know how dangerous driving can be. Just remember that in the rain, your risk increases.
Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of the Personal Injury Practice Group at the Firm, and has ridden motorcycles for over 30 years. You can reach him by calling 818.990.2120.