More and more women are heeding the “call of the road” and taking to motorcycles. According to the Motorcycle Injury Council, one out of four riders is a woman – and that number is growing. It’s important to remember the role of safety in preventing unnecessary injuries, accidents, and fatalities. Soon female bikers – including those who are widowed or divorced – across the nation will celebrate Memorial Day and kick off another riding season.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to talk about motorcycle safety and learn how to protect your legal rights as a motorcyclist.
Adequate Insurance: A Biker’s Safety Net
As a widow or someone who’s divorced, you may not be able to rely on anyone else for financial security. Adequate insurance is a must. You should have at least $100,000 per person, and $300,000 per occurrence of Bodily Injury Liability and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. If possible, have your motorcycle insurance on the same policy as other vehicles in your household. Also, make sure you have medical coverage on your motorcycle policy or other options for health insurance, because medical benefits on your automobile policy will not apply if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident.
You can make changes to your policy any time, so review it now.
Motorcycle Safety is Your Best Bet
Here are some motorcycle safety tips to keep in mind:
- Proper riding gear is essential to prevent injuries, whether you’re on a cross-country tour or riding around town. Always wear a helmet, protective eyewear, a pair of thick pants, a shirt or jacket with sleeves, and over-the-ankle footwear.
- Try to keep your bike in great shape. If your motorcycle malfunctions, you could be at risk for serious injuries. Check your brakes, tires, controls, lights, and fluid levels before every ride.
- When you’re on the road, be conscious of the vehicles around you. One of the most dangerous situations a biker can face on the road is attempting to merge into a lane with a car, SUV, or truck in their blind spot.
- Consider taking a motorcycle safety course. These courses cover the risks associated with riding, pre-ride inspection checklists, and basic safety standards. Pennsylvania’s Department of Motor Vehicles sponsors courses for all skill levels right here in Pittsburgh.
- Stay as visible as possible. This is especially important at dusk. Keep plenty of distance between you and other vehicles, use your headlights, and wear reflective attire.
- If you’re riding with other motorcyclists, follow the proper group riding formation – the lead rider in the left-third of the lane, the next rider in the right-third of the lane at least one second behind, etc. Always pack a cell phone, first aid kit, and tool kit for emergencies.
The Low-Down on Protecting Your Legal Rights
Motorcycle helmet laws, insurance, and licensing laws vary from state to state. Make sure you’re familiar with the laws wherever you plan to ride so you don’t run into any legal trouble.
Know what do after an accident. First and foremost, call 911 to get medical treatment for anyone who suffered injuries. When the police arrive, file an accident report so there is an accurate and official description of what happened. Don’t speculate who’s to blame, and try to stay as calm as possible.
Next, take photos of the accident scene and gather information. Write down the make, model, license plate number, and VIN number from the other vehicle(s) involved, as well as names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, insurance companies, and contact information for all other drivers and passengers involved in the crash.
Important: Don’t give a recorded statement to your own insurance company or the other parties’ insurance companies until you’ve spoken with an attorney. Don’t sign any papers from the other insurance company either until you know your legal rights.
Riding a motorcycle is a great way for women who are widowed or divorced to enjoy the thrill of biking and meet new people. Remember to ride safely, review your insurance coverage, and take the proper steps after an accident to protect your legal rights – so that you can enjoy many more happy and healthy riding seasons.
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.