The Impact of Weather Conditions on Motorcycle Accidents

For many people, there is nothing more invigorating than riding a motorcycle. However, with that freedom comes an added risk due to being less protected from road and weather conditions and more prone to severe injuries or death when an accident occurs. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration1, more than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist.

Some common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Alcohol impairment
  • Drivers not looking for motorcycles
  • Distracted driving
  • Unsafe road or weather conditions

Although only 3% of motorcycle accidents occur in bad weather conditions2, this can make it more difficult to avoid an accident caused by other factors, such as negligence, impairment, or distracted driving.

Rain or shine, it’s always best to be well-prepared before getting on a motorcycle and to have a Louisville motorcycle accident lawyer on your side. Here is a list of bad weather conditions and the precautions you can take to mitigate the risks of driving in them.

Weather Conditions and Precautions

  1. Rain

Riding a motorcycle during or after rain can decrease visibility as well as tire traction on wet roads. The worst time to be on the road is during the first ten to twenty minutes of a rainstorm. To mitigate the risk of an accident, slow down, increase your following distance, and avoid any sudden movements or puddles. To protect your body and increase your visibility to other drivers, wear appropriate rain gear and reflective clothing.

The more water that is between your tires and the road (combined with motor oil on the road’s surface), the greater the likelihood of hydroplaning, which is when a vehicle skids out of control on a layer of water. The risk of hydroplaning can be greater on a motorcycle than in other vehicles because motorcycles only have two wheels and less traction on the road. Motorcycles also have a greater risk of tipping or flipping over.

The best thing you can do in a hydroplaning event is to try not to panic. Instead of braking hard or swerving, slowly take your hands off the throttle and attempt to coast in a straight line while avoiding any traffic hazards.

  1. Snow, Sleet, and Ice

Similar to rain, any freezing precipitation reduces visibility and increases the risk of roads becoming slippery. Frozen precipitation can also lead to the formation of black ice on the road, which can be hard to see. It’s important to slow down and increase your following distance as much as possible. Snow on surfaces can be extra hazardous because snow will reflect the glare of the sun. It’s advisable to wear sunglasses and avoid looking at snow directly.

  1. Wind

Wind can reduce a motorcycle’s stability and balance and make it much harder to control, even increasing the risk of being blown off course. If strong winds are in the forecast, it’s a good idea to consider changing your route or rescheduling your ride. If you come upon strong wind unexpectedly, maintain a steady speed and grip on the handlebars and try to lean into the wind.

  1. Fog

Obviously, fog reduces visibility and makes it more difficult to accurately judge distances from and between other objects. As a precaution, use low-beam headlights or turn on fog lights if you have them, slow down, and increase your following distance. You can also wear reflective clothing and use hand signals to communicate with other drivers.

  1. Heat Waves and High Temperatures

Even hot and sunny weather can be problematic. Sunny, hot weather can causesunburns, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and ultimately, heat stroke. It is best to avoid riding during the hottest parts of the day (noon – 5 p.m.) and to take frequent breaks. Alwaysstay hydrated with water or drinks with electrolytes, and eat salty snacks to replace what is lost from sweating. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol (even when you’re not in the saddle). To keep your body cool, wear tight, stretchy, wicking clothing or a cooling vest underneath full-length riding gear.

  1. Lightning

Unlike being in a car where there is a metal frame surrounding you, when you’re on a motorcycle during a thunderstorm, there is a slight risk of being struck by lightning due to your head being exposed at the highest point. Whenever you hear thunder, it’s best to seek the nearest shelter. If you are caught in a place with no shelter, take cover under an underpass or bridge.

General Motorcycle Safety

Know your Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle takes a lot of practice, skill, and responsibility. Because of this, it’s vital to follow motorcycle safety rules and regulations required in your state. If you’re unsure of what these are, you can always reach out to a local motorcycle accident lawyer in Louisville.

If you’re an inexperienced rider, it’s a good idea to take a safety course. When you’re on a new or unfamiliar bike, it’s important to get comfortable with how it rides and to know how tomaneuver it under different conditions. Whenever possible, avoid riding on gravel or dirt roads that can get muddy. If you’re on the highway, stay in the far left or right lanes to reduce the amount of passing traffic.

Safety Checks

As well as preparing yourself, it’s just as important toperform regular motorcycle maintenance and safety checks before departing. This includes checking tire pressure, fluid levels, brakes, signals, and headlights.

Wear a Helmet

Statistics show that helmets save lives. According to the CDC, helmets reduce serious head injuries by 69 percent and death by up to 37 percent. In Kentucky, you must wear a helmet if you are: 1) under 21, 2) have an instruction permit, and/or 3) have been riding for less than a year. When shopping for a standard-grade helmet, be sure that it has a DOT-approved safety rating and fits your head correctly.

Avoid Bad Weather When Possible

The best way to avoid inclement weather is to always check the weather forecast before heading out. If you come upon dangerous weather conditions unexpectedly, adjust your riding behavior accordingly and proceed with caution.

Contact a Louisville Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

No matter how safe or prepared you are, motorcycle accidents can still happen as the result of other drivers’ bad decisions or other unforeseen circumstances, such as unpredictable weather. Here at Aguiar Injury Lawyers, we are proud to be the motorcycle accident attorneys Louisville residents can rely on for advice 24/7.

Do you have a case for us? We have experience with a variety of personal injury claims and can get you compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. And with our No Fee Guarantee®, you don’t have to pay us unless you get paid. Contact us for a free consultation today.