Motorcyclists face a variety of dangers even when riding conditions are favorable. So it’s especially important to understand how poor weather conditions can impact riding. The following driving safety tips may help prevent injuries in either a single-vehicle accident or one involving another vehicle.
Tips for Riding in Rainy Conditions
It’s best to avoid riding altogether when it’s raining. But if you must hit the road in the rain, keep these tips from Rider Magazine in mind so you drive safely:
- slow down;
- make turns in as upright a position as possible;
- avoid last-minute turns or sudden swerves;
- brake and accelerate gradually;
- increase stopping distance to the vehicle in front;
- look for standing water to avoid hydroplaning;
- make sure tires aren’t underinflated; and
- if glasses or face shield become fogged, pull over.
The Rider Magazine article offers several other tips, such as periodically applying the brakes to gently wipe the rotors free of debris, mud and water, and to be aware of gravel and dirt that rain may spread around which can create slick surfaces for motorcyclists.
If it starts to hail, pull over and take shelter. Hail can cause injury to the body (welts, cuts and bruises), especially when not wearing protective equipment such as a helmet with face shield, jacket, long pants and boots. Even if wearing this gear, remember that hail can dent the motorcycle and it’s extremely dangerous to drive in because it reduces visibility and can create obstacles on the road.
Tips for Riding in Windy Conditions
Motorcyclists sometimes fail to recognize the dangers of windy conditions. Riders should always prepare for changes in wind direction. The most dangerous are side winds, such as when going underneath a bridge or when overtaking a big rig, as noted by RidingSafely.com. These winds can be especially strong, so use extra caution.
Also, the wobble that riders feel can be more significant when windy. Try to relax and don’t grip the handlebars tightly, recommends RidingSafely.com. Counterbalance the movement of the bike, readjusting the center. Overreacting to wobbling can cause riders to lose control.
How Weather Conditions Can Impact a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Riders may feel that the inclement weather is to blame for an accident. But other drivers who fail to drive their vehicle safely in adverse weather– whether operating a passenger car, truck, motorcycle – can be liable for an accident.
Riders injured in these accidents can thus file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance to recover damages, and/or their own insurer if they live in a no-fault insurance state like New York.
But the insurance company could argue that the rider is partially to blame and also failed to take proper precautions in the dangerous weather. For instance, an insurer might argue that the rider did not allow enough space between the motorcycle and the vehicle in front despite rainy conditions that make stopping more difficult.
Negligence laws can come into play in these cases. Each rider/driver is assigned a percentage of fault for the accident. In some states, any percentage of fault bars the individual from recovering damages.
But in most states, damages are reduced by the individual’s proportion of fault, provided their percentage of fault does not reach a certain threshold: usually 50 or 51 percent. In New York, though, riders can be up to 99 percent at fault and recover damages (albeit only one percent of their damages in this case).
Let’s say there’s an accident on I-95. There was a steady rainfall and the motorcyclist was going too fast for conditions and is deemed 30 percent at fault. But another driver is 70 percent at fault for merging into the motorcycle, striking it and causing the accident. The motorcyclist would be entitled to 70 percent of his damages (the full amount minus his percentage of fault, in this case 30 percent).
With so many scenarios that can factor into a motorcycle accident claim—with or without adverse weather conditions—riders may benefit by speaking with an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates. It’s important to figure out who was responsible for the crash, if weather played a role, and if there is recoverable compensation via an insurance claim or lawsuit. Set up your consultation by calling 800-550-0000.