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From Florida to Alaska: Motorcyclists on the Move
By Ken Ringstad on July 6th, 2015 in Alaska
The beginning of July brings many things—grill-outs, fireworks, and family fun. But amid the Fourth of July festivities, thousands of motorcyclists will embark on a cross-country ride.
The two-week trip commences in St. Augustine, Florida as the bikers travel north through the contiguous U.S. before crossing into Canada. After a 5,000 mile journey north, the motorcyclists reach their final destination in our home state of Alaska.
Whether you’re making the ride across North America or covering a much shorter distance here at home, this trek serves as an important reminder to stay safe while riding your motorcycle. Here are a few common causes of motorcycle accidents and how to avoid them:
- A car turns in front of you at an intersection.
How to avoid it: Always pay attention to what’s happening around you. Cars may not see you coming, but you should make sure that you see them. In any situation, reduce your speed, cover your brakes, and prepare to take evasive action. Should this be necessary, identify your escape routes.
- You hit gravel in a blind corner.
How to avoid it: Don’t hit gravel in the first place by riding at a slow enough pace to give yourself enough reaction time should you suddenly see unexpected objects. A good rule of thumb is “slow in, fast out.”
- You enter a corner too fast.
How to avoid it: Be sure to ride only as fast as you can see. Visual cues like telephone poles and signs can help you judge where the road is going even when it is disappearing behind a crest.
- A car changes lanes into you.
How to avoid it: Be aware of where other drivers’ blind spots are and avoid those areas as much as possible. Generally, if you can see a driver’s eyes in their mirrors, they can probably see you.
- A car slams into you from behind.
How to avoid it: If a single car is stopped at a multi-lane stoplight with more cars approaching quickly behind you, they may not see you. One way to avoid a potential rear-end collision is to pull between a line of cars. In other scenarios, it may be necessary to stop to the side rather than the center of a lane and flash your brake light so the cars approaching behind you are aware of your presence.
Choose the right gear
Wearing the proper attire while riding your motorcycle can be the difference between going home moderately injured to not going home at all.
In Alaska, helmets are required for riders 17 and under, but we highly encourage riders of any age to wear a helmet. As motorcycle accident injury attorneys, we’ve seen the devastating consequences a crash can have on motorcyclists and their families. Always choose and wear a certified helmet. These helmets will have a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) label on them. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these helmets reduce the risk of death by 42 percent and the risk of head injuries by 69 percent.
It is also important to wear the appropriate shoes, gloves, and clothing when riding. This is because the fabric of these garments is thick and protective. You are much more exposed in a motorcycle than in a car, so wearing the correct clothing can provide protection from the elements.
Do Your Part to Keep Motorcyclists Safe
If you see this chain of bikers on the road—or any motorcyclist—leave extra space between your car and their motorcycle. Always use your turn signal and avoid sudden lane changes to give motorcyclists time to prepare to slow down or stop. Make sure you’re checking your mirrors every few seconds and being aware of those around you. Following these tips will not only help keep motorcyclists safe, but they can also keep you safe as well.
Steps to Take If You’ve Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident
You may have worn the appropriate safety gear and followed all the best practices for motorcycle safety, but the unfortunate reality is that accidents happen. And when they do, it’s best to be aware of what steps you should take after the accident.
- Ensure that the police or proper authorities file a report of the accident.
- Your health is the first priority. Seek medical attention from a health care professional even if you think you’re not severely injured.
- Document both the injuries and the incident. Usually, this involves taking photos and saving the receipts of your medical expenses and out-of-pocket costs related to your injury.
- Provide your insurer with all the information they need. You do not want to forfeit coverage by failing to cooperate.
- Contact a Fairbanks, Alaska, motorcycle injury attorney for further assistance. We can ensure that everything is properly documented and reported.
We’ll Get You Back on Your Feet
Here at Ringstad Law Office, P.C., we sincerely hope that you are never injured in a motorcycle accident. But if you are, our experienced personal injury lawyers will be here for you every step of the way. We can answer all of your questions about the personal injury process and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
To all the motorcyclists making the cross-country ride—safe travels! If you have any questions about motorcycle laws in Alaska or run into any issues on the road, don’t hesitate to give Ringstad Law Office, P.C. a call today.