In Southwest Florida, “season” is here. If you haven't seen the increase in local traffic on our roads, you're probably bunkered down inside your house. Getting anywhere takes longer, and involves a higher risk rate than it does when our roads are less congested.
If you get around on a motorcycle, your odds of making it safely to your destination are greatly reduced. Most days, you feel like a target, dodging the ‘cagers' who are seemingly set on either crashing into you, or pulling out in front of you. Traffic congestion is bad enough, but factor in the thousands of drivers down here now who have never been on our roads before and you have the perfect storm for the likelihood of being in an accident.
Experienced Riders Know How to Stay Safe
Bikers who have been riding for a long time have learned the many ways to at least try to stay out of harm's way. Seasoned riders have spent years figuring out how to avoid a crash, and they know how to minimize their risk on the road.
Here are a few key things that every biker should practice while riding, especially where there is a lot of traffic congestion:
Use Your Mirrors – Always be in the habit of checking your mirrors to see what's approaching from the rear. (Rear-end collisions are a major cause of motorcycle crash injuries). Additionally, turn your head over your shoulders when you can do so safely to see what is going on around you.
Keep Your Eye on the Other Guy – Always try to keep an eye on the driver of the vehicles near you. This sounds really difficult, but it's imperative to try to figure out the intentions of the drivers around you. We know this can be very challenging, especially when a lot of cars have been equipped with illegal window tint, making it impossible to see the driver's face. The more you at least attempt to see the other driver's face, the better chances you have of determining what they may be trying to do behind the wheel.
Visually Scan What's Up Ahead – Smart riders are always scanning not only the road ahead, but many other things, at the same time. They'll intermittently glance at their bike's gauges and instruments, both of their mirrors, the traffic ahead of them, the surface of the road, upcoming intersections and traffic to their left and right.
Stand Out – Wearing bright colored clothing may not be very fashionable, but neither is getting hit. A bright t-shirt, jacket or vest can be seen better by drivers around you, and just may save your life. And if you're one of those drivers who complain about load motorcycles, keep in mind that bikers use that to let you know where they are. The theory is that it's better to tick you off than it is to be invisible.
Be Ready to Roll on the Power – In addition to keeping a finger and your foot ready to apply your brakes, you should always be ready to accelerate quickly if the situation calls for it. If there's an erratic driver near you or someone who is driving below the posted speed limit, you should always be ready to roll on the throttle to get the heck away from trouble.
Find the Gaps – Even when traffic is congested, there are usually areas where there are open spots. You should always try to avoid being boxed into a tight area. If you have a safe chance to move into a lane where there are fewer cars, take it.
Know Your Options – Locking up your brakes is a pretty sure-fire way to lay your bike down. If you see a dangerous situation coming up in the distance, try to quickly scan the area ahead of you to see what your options may be. It may turn out that veering to one side or the other can avoid crashing into a car that has suddenly stopped in front of you.
The Treacherous Left-Turn – Another very common cause of serious motorcycle crashes is a car making a left-hand turn directly into the right of way of the biker. Smart bikers are always watching the eye, head and hand movements of the driver of the oncoming car to try and figure out what they are planning on doing. We all know that just because their blinker is on doesn't really mean a thing. Looking at the direction of their front tires is also a good way to determine what may be on the driver's mind. Experienced riders assume that an approaching car in the oncoming left turn lane is not going to see them, or think the biker is far enough away that they can make it across the lanes of traffic. Always be prepared to either brake, take evasive action, hit the throttle or a combination of all to avoid hitting a vehicle making a left turn in front of you.
Cover Yourself – Don't inadvertently expose yourself to a vulnerable situation. If you're at a stop light in the far outside or inside lane, the idiot that blows through a red light will make contact with you first. Seasoned riders will get in the practice of using the vehicles around you as a sort of buffer between them and oncoming traffic. It's a little like in an old western movie, when a soldier is running into enemy fire and yells “cover me”! Let the cars on either side of you be your cover.
The personal injury attorneys at Goldberg Noone, LLC, have been fighting for the rights of injured bikers for years, and our track record speaks for itself. It never costs a penny to ask us questions to determine if hiring a lawyer may be in your best interests. We're always available to speak to you, whether you hire us or not.
You can call our main office at 239-461-5508, or just complete the contact form here to have one of our experienced and skilled motorcycle accident lawyers get in touch with you immediately.
We've helped dozens of riders throughout Southwest Florida receive fair financial compensation from an at-fault driver who turned their life upside down. We hope you ride safe, be smart and always practice the tips above when you're out on the road. We look forward to meeting you at one of our area's many biker events!