|| Summertime is quickly approaching, which means bikers are already taking to the road to kick off the 2012 riding season. Since May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, there’s no better time to review the importance of motorcycle safety, state riding laws, insurance coverage, and being prepared for an accident.
10 Tips to Protect Your Legal Rights and Your Safety
Following these tips can help you have a safe and enjoyable motorcycle season. Visit these links for state-by-state resources on insurance laws, helmet laws, and additional safety tips.
- Review Your Motorcycle Insurance Policy – Choosing insurance coverage can be tricky, because the laws are different for every state, and not all coverage options are available in all situations. However, you want to be sure you have liability coverage, including Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (we recommend $100,000 per person, $300,000 per occurrence). Also, think about your medical insurance options. If adding medical benefits to your motorcycle policy isn’t an option, be sure you have other insurance in case you’re in an accident.
- Add UM/UIM Coverage if You Don’t Have it – Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provides protection if you are injured in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance to fully compensate you if you’re in an accident. We recommend a minimum of $100,000 per person, and $300,000 per occurrence of coverage. Also, keep your motorcycle on the same policy as the other cars in your household if possible – and request the stacking option. Stacking increases your coverage by the total amount of vehicles on your policy.
- Perform Regular Motorcycle Safety Checks – You should perform a thorough safety check prior to the riding season, and periodically throughout the summer. Inspect your tires, controls, lights, turn signals, horns, mirrors, fluid levels, and brakes. Doing so will help avoid hazards that could potentially cause an accident.
- Know Your State Laws – Helmet laws and other motorcycle laws vary from state to state, so be sure you know the laws wherever you plan to ride – especially during cross-country tours or when heading to a rally.
- Practice Defensive Riding Always – There’s nothing better than heading out on the open road, but always remember to ride defensively. Many motorists don’t pay attention to bikers when they should, and there are many hazards you can encounter. Stay out of other drivers’ blind spots, watch for debris and other dangerous road conditions, and maintain at least a two-second gap between you and vehicles in front of you. When on a highway, increase that gap to three or four seconds.
- Wear Proper Riding Attire – Always wear proper riding attire, including gloves and protective eyewear. Wear pants made of thick material and over-the-ankle boots to protect your feet and ankles. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing. When riding at night, be sure to wear reflective gear so you can be as visible to other motorists as possible.
- Follow the Rules of Group Riding – Arrive with a full tank of gas and discuss the route before you head out on the road. Make sure everyone is prepared and knows what to do in case of emergency. Assign lead and tail riders, and ride in groups of five-to-seven bikers. Follow the correct group riding formation – the leader in the left-third of the lane, the next rider in the right-third of the lane, etc. Ride single-file when on a curvy road or when you should exercise extra caution.
- What to Do After an Accident - If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident and able, call 911 immediately. Seek medical treatment for anyone injured in the collision. Make sure you file a police report and stick to the basic facts of the crash, remaining as calm as possible. Don’t blame anyone for the crash. Filing a report will help avoid a “he said, she said” situation when dealing with the other person’s insurance company later.
- Gathering Evidence and Information – Next, preserve as much evidence from the accident scene as possible. Use your camera phone or a disposable camera to take pictures of the scene, your injuries, damage to the bike, and any other factors that could have caused or contributed to the accident. Get the other driver’s name, contact information, driver’s license number, insurance provider, vehicle identification number, license plate number, etc. Also, get names and contact information for any witnesses.
- Avoid Insurance Company Pitfalls - Last, contact your insurance provider, but don’t give a recorded statement until you have spoken with an attorney. Never give a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance company. Finally, read any releases or papers carefully before you sign them.
By Edgar Snyder, Esq.
Attorney Edgar Snyder has over 45 years of experience helping injury victims. His Pennsylvania-based law firm, Edgar Snyder & Associates, has represented hundreds of bikers and is active in the biker community. The Edgar Snyder & Associates’ Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season. For more information, visit EdgarSnyder.com