However, that freedom does come with a price, and it is the increased risk of sustaining a motorcycle injury. No matter how many years you’ve been on the road, no rider is completely safe from the risk of a serious or even lethal motorcycle injury.
Freedom Does Not Mean Protection
In one of Florida’s more ironic news stories, a Florida attorney who was active in the movement to fight mandatory motorcycle helmet safety laws died in a motorcycle accident in August. Ron Smith, a practicing attorney in Pinellas, was on his way to the funeral of another motorcyclist who had died of cancer when he lost control of his motorcycle and tried to slow down to avoid the traffic ahead of him. Both he and his passenger were killed in the accident.
In the state of Florida, helmets for motorcycles aren’t optional, provided certain legal conditions are met. First, a rider must be 21 years or older; minors must wear a motorcycle helmet when riding. The other condition is that those who choose to ride without a helmet must have a personal injury insurance policy with a minimum of $10000, as recognition of the additional risk riders exposes themselves to by choosing not to wear a helmet.
Riders Are Vulnerable
While to some, it may be a matter of freedom or even experience, the fact is motorcyclists are more physically at risk of accidents than those who drive cars. Drivers have the structural protection of the vehicle around them, sometimes even “roll cages” in the case of certain vehicles. However, even without roll cages, seatbelts and airbags go a long way toward providing drivers with additional physical protection during an accident.
Motorcyclists have no such protection. In any impact, the light weight of a motorcycle, combined with only the clothing a person chooses to wear, means collisions will always have a more severe effect. The head is one of the most sensitive parts of the body and crucial to the functioning of the body. The central nervous system sends all signals and receives orders from the brain, so any injury to the head can have catastrophic consequences that are mitigated only by the choice to wear a helmet.
Risks Are Higher
It’s not the risk of severe injuries being higher for motorcyclists, either. The chances of a motorcyclist getting into an accident are higher than drivers in trucks, vans, and cars for one primary reason; visibility. Motorcycles are, by design, smaller, more nimble vehicles. This often means that the blind spots drivers typically deal with regarding other, bigger vehicles are more pronounced regarding pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Florida is when drivers try changing lanes and don’t see a rider in the same space. Another common accident scenario is drivers not seeing motorcyclists as they rush to make a left turn at an intersection and hastily decide the road is clear.
Situations like these leave motorcyclists vulnerable, even when, like Ron Smith, they have decades of riding experience. A lot of experience does not put every aspect of road accidents under your control. If you’re a motorcyclist injured on SW Florida roads due to someone else’s negligence, talk to a motorcycle accident lawyer to get the compensation you’re owed.