Florida is famous for its temperate climate, beautiful scenery, and exciting destinations. These things make the state an excellent place for motorcyclists to explore and enjoy. After all, what’s better than winding along a white sand beach or cruising through Ocala National Forest? With images like that in mind, the last thing you think of is motorcycle accidents.
Despite its beauty, though, the Sunshine State is among the most dangerous places for motorcyclists.
In fact, Florida has one of the highest rates of motorcycle accidents in the country. In 2019, there were 591 fatal crashes involving motorcycles in the state.
While the factors contributing to these crash statistics are numerous, some are controllable.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in Florida. We’ll also provide tips to help you stay safe on the roads.
The 7 Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Florida
While there are many reasons for motorcycle accidents in Florida, these are the most common:
1. Driving too fast
Speeding is one of the most significant risk factors for motorcycle accidents in Florida.
According to data reported by NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 33% of motorcycle riders killed in crashes in 2019 were speeding. Compared to just 19% of motorists in passenger cars, that number is high.
Motorcyclists who obey posted speed limits, on the other hand, are safer than their speeding counterparts and less likely to be involved in fatal or non-fatal accidents
2. Driving while intoxicated
According to current numbers, alcohol use was a factor in 42% of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2019. In fact, motorcycle riders who died in nighttime traffic crashes were 3x more likely to be alcohol-impaired than drivers killed in daytime crashes in 2019.
While all intoxicated drivers have slow reaction times, diminished vision, and little awareness of speed and geographical elements, motorcycle drivers are particularly at risk for fatal crashes.
3. Lack of visibility
About 50% of motorcycle accidents are due to a lack of visibility. Because motorcycles are smaller than cars, they can easily disappear into a car’s blind spot.
Motorists who fail to see motorcycles are likely to merge into motorcyclists or cause other accidents.
Fortunately, motorcyclists can improve visibility by wearing bright colors and retro-reflective materials.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle department’s “Ride Proud, Dress Loud” campaign has more information on promoting visibility and safety on Florida’s roads.
4. Dangerous driving
Because motorcycles are small and maneuverable, they can complete maneuvers that cars can’t. One of the most dangerous is “lane splitting” – riding a motorcycle on the line between cars on a multilane road.
While this maneuver is illegal in 49 states, it remains common and can cause disastrous, fatal accidents.
5. Distracted driving
Distracted driving is just as dangerous for motorcyclists as it is for motorists.
Motorcycle riders who text, eat, or use handheld mobile devices while driving are more likely to be involved in crashes.
Motorcycle riders who don’t pay enough attention to their surroundings, including being aware of bicycle riders and pedestrians, may also cause accidents.
6. Poor road conditions
Road conditions may be a factor in many motorcycle accidents in Florida.
According to recent statistics, 91% of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2019 occurred on non-interstate roads, compared to just 9% occurring on interstate roadways.
This may have to do with road and surface conditions being less predictable on non-interstate roads than on interstate roadways.
Not surprisingly, places like Miami, FL, have some of the worst traffic conditions in the country. They’re also some of the most desirable places to ride motorcycles.
At peak season, cities like Miami see heavy traffic from sunrise to sundown. These conditions can encourage motorcycle riders to navigate the traffic at high speed and take corners too quickly.
Cornering at high speed can cause accidents if riders slide or spin through the curve. Even worse, these accidents frequently occur when vehicles are coming from the opposite direction.
In two-vehicle crashes, 76% of motorcycles were struck from the front, while only 7% were struck from the rear.
How to Stay Safe on Your Motorcycle in Florida
While Florida’s crash statistics are grim, these tips can help you stay safe while you ride your motorcycle in the Sunshine State:
Wear a helmet. In states that don’t have universal helmet laws, a shocking 57% of motorcyclists killed in 2019 accidents were not wearing helmets. In states with universal helmet laws, that number drops to 9%. The takeaway is clear: wear a helmet to protect yourself on Florida’s roadways.
Practice defensive driving. Defensive driving can help you ride safely in Florida. Simple things, like being aware of your surroundings, not speeding, and staying a safe distance from other drivers are critical to riding safely.
Avoid nighttime riding and bad roads. As much as possible, avoid riding your motorcycle on poorly-maintained roads or at night when visibility is limited.
Avoid impaired driving. Never, under any circumstances, ride a motorcycle after drinking or using intoxicating substances. Impaired driving is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in Florida and puts you and other motorists at risk.
Wear protective equipment. In addition to wearing a helmet, wear other protective equipment that’s durable and high-visibility. Leather will protect you from road rash and other injuries. Bright fluorescent colors, meanwhile, make you more visible to other drivers on the roadway.
What to do if You’ve Experienced a Motorcycle Accident in Florida
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, it’s highly recommended to hire a personal injury attorney to guide you through the process.
This is especially true if you or someone else was injured in the accident and you’re looking for trustworthy representation. No matter what you’re facing, the team at Ward & Barnes is here to help.
As a firm of experienced accident lawyers in Pensacola, we help people navigate the aftermath of motorcycle accidents that involve injury or fatalities.
Contact us today to learn more about our services, how we can help you get the payout you deserve, or how we can support you through the legal process.