Summer is finally here, and that means it is motorcycle season! Nothing beats the feeling of cruising along the highway in the summer sun, creating your own breeze, and seeing the world around you up close and personal. But before you hit the road, it is a good idea to brush up on some of the safety tips and legal reminders you may have forgotten since you put your bike in storage for the winter.
1. Make sure you have the insurance coverage you need in case of an accident.
According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, there were 1,274 motorcycle injuries, and 76 fatalities, in Kentucky in 2014, which is the most recent year data is available for. All those accidents come with medical bills, and if you don’t have the proper insurance coverage, you are going to be paying them out of pocket. We recommend that all motorcycle owners add Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage to their policies for better protection in the event of an accident.
Most motorcycle insurance policies sold in the state of Kentucky do not include PIP or “no-fault” coverage unless you specifically request it. PIP is coverage you carry on your motorcycle that generally pays up to $10,000 on your medical bills and lost wages during your recovery. Unless you have PIP coverage, you will not receive money for lost wages or short term disability until your case is settled.
Our firm has helped bikers without PIP coverage negotiate payment plans so they can obtain the treatment they need before a settlement is reached.
2. Even if you are a safe driver, others may not be.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 75% of all motorcycle accidents, and 50% of fatal accidents, involve two vehicles. The second vehicle is usually a car, and the motorcyclist almost always fares worse.
The best way to avoid these sorts of accidents is to practice defensive riding. A good way to do this is to pretend like you are invisible, because unfortunately, to many drivers you are.
If you want to protect against a hit and run sort of situation, consider strapping a GoPro or other outdoor camera on your bike to videotape your ride. Hit record before you roll out of your drive, and if you are in an accident, you will have good evidence to rely on.
3. Wear proper riding attire, even when it gets hot out.
When we are negotiating settlements for clients who have been injured in a motorcycle accident, one of the first things the insurance companies want to know is what the rider (and passenger if there was one involved) was wearing.
Helmets are not required in Kentucky unless you are still using a learners’ permit, but you should consider wearing one anyway. If you are in an accident, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of death by 37% and reduces the risk of a head injury by 69%. In our experience, wearing a helmet also increases the amount of money the insurance companies are willing to offer you.
Insurance companies also tend to offer more money to people who were wearing proper shoes and leather coats and chaps. So, to be on the safe side, no sandals and no loose clothing while you are on your bike.
4. Don’t forget that the turn signals on motorcycles work differently than the turn signals on cars.
This may seem like a “duh” reminder, but don’t forget to turn off your turn signal after you make a turn or change lanes. Turn signals that are left on are a common cause of car-motorcycle accidents because most people do not know that motorcycle turn signals do not typically shut off after a turn as been made (they must be manually turned off). If another driver sees that you have your turn signal on, they will probably assume you are going to turn, and may respond to that in a way that causes an accident if you don’t actually turn.
Having your signal on when you are not turning can shift the fault in an accident, and impact the insurance payouts available, so this is something to be aware of.
If you have questions about any of these tips, don’t hesitate to reach out! And if you are driving by one of our offices this summer, feel free to stop by to cool off for a few minutes and grab a drink of water.
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