May is Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Awareness month in Florida. The Share the Road campaign by the Florida Department of Highways Safety and Motor Vehicles aims to create a safer environment for all drivers through education and awareness. For motorcyclists, this campaign is imperative to improving the safety of roadways.
Currently, Florida leads the nation in motorcycle accident fatalities. With 606 fatalities in 2015—a 30% increase over 2014, according to AAA—it’s a disappointing trend, especially compared to the nation’s statistics, which show a decline in motorcycle accident fatalities.
So what can you do to improve motorcycle safety?
Tips for Motorcyclists
There were two common crash factors among many of the fatal Florida motorcycle crashes. The first is alcohol. Operating any vehicle with a BAC over 0.08 is illegal in the state of Florida and will lead to serious consequences. Motorcyclists are especially at risk because they are exposed when riding their motorcycles and may suffer serious injuries in what might normally be a minor accident in a car. Almost half of motorcycle fatalities in Florida include drunk driving. Don’t put yourself or anyone else in this dangerous situation. If you are planning on drinking, get a designated driver or find a way to get home safely.
The other common crash factor is speed. Operating a motor vehicle at speeds above the speed limit can impair one’s ability to safely maneuver, especially in poor weather. Slow down and obey traffic laws to limit your chances of getting in an accident.
Driving defensively and paying attention to the vehicles around you can help you avoid a potential accident. Too often, motorists don’t see motorcyclists until it’s too late. By keeping your eyes on the road, you may be able to avoid these situations and enjoy the beautiful Florida roadways more safely.
If you’re involved in an accident, a helmet can protect you from suffering a traumatic brain injury and save your life. While Florida residents over age 18 are not required to wear a helmet when operating or riding a motorcycle, accident statistics suggest it’s a wise move. So regardless of the letter of the law, strap on that helmet and feel secure in the fact that you’re doing something for the safety of your brain.
Tips for Motorists
It may come as a surprise—especially since riding a motorcycle is often touted as dangerous—however, most fatal motorcycle accidents are caused by motorists. The most important thing drivers can do to limit the chances of motorcycle accidents is to pay attention. Defensive driving goes a long way towards making the roads safer for everyone. Limiting distractions and focusing on the task at hand is an easy way to ensure everyone gets to their destination safely.
Motorists should also be aware that motorcycles have the same rights as other vehicles. They are entitled to a full lane and are required to follow the same laws as others on the road. When driving near a motorcycle, be sure to provide adequate space when merging, changing lanes, or turning. Follow the speed limit and keep an eye out at intersections. Many accidents occur when a vehicle attempts to make a left-hand turn and fails to notice an oncoming motorcycle. Always double check before making that turn.
Share the Road!
This May, pay attention to how you treat other drivers. Make sure you are giving motorcycles the space they need to maneuver. Drive defensively and steer clear of distractions!