Florida has perfect weather and wonderfully flat roads that offer ideal riding conditions year round. We are proud that Florida is home to so many motorcycle enthusiasts. However, safety can never be stressed enough. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) produced statistics on many of the issues facing motorcyclists across the nation, including a few numbers for Florida.
This is by far one of the most important safety precautions motorcyclists can take. Florida law does not require a motorcyclist to wear a helmet if the rider are over the age of 21 and the rider has $10,000 in medical coverage (PIP does not count towards motorcycles, so this must be in addition to PIP insurance). However, all riders and passengers should always wear a helmet. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclists in 2008 and that for every 100 motorcycle riders killed while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved by doing so. In Florida, 48% of motorcyclists killed in an accident were not wearing a helmet.
A recent study also revealed that bikers who wear helmets face fewer spinal injuries than those who don’t.
This is another major concern. As with other motor vehicles, it is against the law to operate a motorcycle while impaired from alcohol. Florida’s legal blood alcohol content level (BAC) while operating a motor vehicle is .08. In fatal crashes in 2008, a higher percentage of motorcycle riders had BAC higher than .08 than any other type of motor vehicle– higher than automobiles, small trucks and commercial trucks. The national average for riders killed with a BAC of .08 or higher was 29%. In Florida however the average was much higher than the national average at a shocking 33%.
Operating a motorcycle with a valid license seems like the obvious thing to do. However, nationally, it is still a problem. If your license is not valid, do not operate a motorcycle! Since 2008, Florida law has required that new motorcyclists, regardless of age take and pass the Basic Rider Course through the Florida Rider Trainer Program. This is the first step in obtaining a motorcycle license.
Florida has two types, and each motorcycle operator must have one of the following:
- Motorcycle endorsement. This is for Florida drivers that already have a driver’s license. To obtain a motorcycle endorsement, you must show proof that you have completed the Florida Rider Training Program.
- Motorcycle Only License. To get a Motorcycle Only license you must be at least 16 years old and have held a learners permit for at least a year with no traffic convictions. If you are over 18 you are not required to have held a learners permit. You must pass the standard class E operator’s license test that all drivers take to get a driver’s license and complete the Basic Riders Course.
Not only is it against the law to operate a motorcycle without one of the two license options, but the odds are against the violators or license requirements.
NHTSA found that operators of a motorcycle without a valid license have a much higher risk of fatality than those who operate a passenger vehicle such as an auto mobile. One out of every four, 25% of fatal motorcycles accidents in 2008 involved an operator without a valid license, whereas this was the case in only 12% of fatal crashes involving passenger vehicles.
Ride safe Florida! Improve Motorcycle safety! Always wear a helmet, never drink and drive, and never operate a motorcycle without a valid license.
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