With flat roads and warm weather all year round, it is not surprising that Florida is home to many motorcycle enthusiasts. Motorcycles do not offer the same level of protection as typical road vehicles. As a result, motorcycle accidents are very common and have serious consequences. In 2009, licensed motorcyclists accounted for just over 6% of Florida’s motoring public. Yet in that same year, motorcyclists and their passengers represented 15.7% of all fatalities on Florida’s roadways. Motorcycles present special dangers and considerations.
In the spirit of the month of May, official Motorcycle Awareness Month, we would like to make following recommendations to maximize your safety on the roads while operating a motorcycle:
Florida Motorcycle Safety
Wear a helmet and eye protection. Florida law does not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet if they are over the age of twenty-one and carry at least $10,000.00 in medical insurance for damages caused by a motorcycle. (Note: If this applies to you, this $10,000.00 in medical coverage cannot come from your Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP) you have for your automobile. PIP does not apply to motorcycles). However, wearing helmets can improve your safety greatly. In 2009, 47% of motorcyclists were not wearing a safety helmet before a fatal crash. Florida requires all motorcyclists to wear eye protection while operating a motorcycle. Increase your safety and avoid breaking the law by making sure to always wear eye protection.
Wear protective clothing. In addition to wearing a helmet and eye protection, wear protective clothing. Florida gets hot but the injuries caused from motorcycle accident will be even more uncomfortable than wearing protective clothing in warm weather. Wear a leather jacket or other material. Many injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident occur on the lower legs and feet. Wear jeans or other clothing that cover your legs. Keep your feet fully covered.
Ride carefully. Although wearing helmets and other protective clothing help decrease the risk of an accident, you can only control your own behavior.
Unfortunately, due to the smaller size of motorcycles compared to automobiles, motorcycles are harder to see in “blind spots”. Efforts have risen over the past few years to encourage automobile drivers to exercise caution and remain on the lookout for motorcycles while driving. You may have seen the “look twice for motorcycles” bumper stickers placed on cars that urge drivers to check blind spots twice before changing lanes. Despite these efforts, many drivers do not check blind spots even once before changing lanes. Thus, it is important you drive as carefully as you can. If you spot a driver that does not appear attentive to the road–maybe he or she is on a cell phone or changing lanes quickly and weaving around cars, proceed with caution. This driver may not be taking motorcyclists into consideration.
Carry insurance. Florida law only requires you to carry motorcycle insurance if you are under the age of 21 or if you opt not to wear a helmet. Yet Florida no-fault law does not apply to motorcyclists. Instead, Florida law makes drivers that cause injuries to motorcyclists responsible for the motorcyclist’s injuries. This normally would come from the negligent driver’s insurance.
However, up to one-third of drivers out on the road are uninsured. Since any PIP insurance you may carry does not apply to motorcycles, help protect yourself by carrying uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance that covers property damage and bodily injury caused by another motorist whose coverage is insufficient to cover the damages one has suffered. It compensates the injured party for the difference between the injury suffered and the liability covered by the insurance of the driver at fault.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, seek the legal help of a Tampa personal injury attorney that has experience in motorcycle accidents. They can help you receive the compensation for property damage, injuries, lost wages and other costs incurred as a result of the accident you deserve.
For More Information:
Florida Statute Governing Motorcyclists
Florida Reports and Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents in Florida