Motorcycle Safety Tips for Alabama Motorcycle Drivers

back view of motorcycle driver

Motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in crashes with passenger cars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Alabama statistics show that roughly 1900 of the state’s motorcyclists were involved in wrecks in a recent year, killing 90 people and injuring 1,213 more.

Staying alive means riding safely. Read on for motorcycle safety tips from the lawyers at Stokes Stemle, LLC.

Know the Law

You must have a Class M driver’s license and be at least 16-years-old to ride a motorcycle or moped in Alabama. That license should be in your possession at all times in case you are stopped by law enforcement.

Alabama motorcycle drivers should also:

  • Wear a helmet that is compliant with Department of Transportation (DOT) standards.
  • Ride on the permanent and regular seat of the motorcycle.
  • Only carry passengers if the bike is equipped with footrests.
  • Wear shoes at all times.
  • Carry nothing that prevents both hands from being on the handlebars.
  • Remember that lane sharing (riding two abreast) is permitted in Alabama, but lane-splitting — cutting in between cars in traffic— is illegal.

You must also have taken a rider safety course or passed a written test before getting your class M license. The Alabama Motorcycle Safety Program offers rider safety courses throughout the state. Classes are available for advanced riders as well.

Know Your Bike

Not all motorcycles are created equal. You need a bike that fits you. You should be able to rest both feet on the ground when sitting on a motorcycle. It should not be too heavy for you to maneuver easily.

Get to know your bike by:

  • Reading the owner’s manual.
  • Making sure that you understand how the controls work, especially the brakes, turn signals, horn, headlights, and cut-off switch. Don’t ride on the street until you can locate the controls without having to look for them.
  • Check that your tires, fluid levels, lights, clutch, and throttle are in good working order. Look for any leaks by checking under the motorcycle.

Get Your Gear

A DOT-approved helmet and shoes are required for motorcycle drivers in Alabama. A face shield and/or goggles are recommended to prevent debris from flying off the road and into your face.

Other riding gear is also a good idea, including:

  • Jackets
  • Riding pants — not just regular jeans. There are denim pants that are reinforced with material to increase their resistance to abrasions.
  • Riding suits
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Elbow/knee/shin guards

We know what many people think. In an Alabama summer, who wants to put on long-sleeve jackets, pants, and boots in sweltering temperatures? The motorcycle accident lawyers at Stokes Stemle, LLC in Montgomery & Dothan, AL strongly encourage you to consider wearing motorcycle gear. Many clothes are designed with both hot and cold temperatures in mind.

Follow Traffic Laws

Everyone has an obligation to obey the rules of the road. Yet the truth is that most accidents are not accidents at all. Typically, there is at least one party to blame.

Determining who is at fault will be important if you are in a collision and need to file an injury claim. But to reduce the chances of a crash, you should:

  • Maintain a safe following distance: Motorcycles need the same amount of time to stop as passenger vehicles.
  • Know the right-of-way laws: Nearly two-thirds of motorcycle accidents happen because another driver violated the motorcyclist’s right of way, according to the Alabama Motorcycle Manual.
  • Stay visible: Motorcycles are smaller, narrower, and more difficult for drivers to spot. Do your part to stay visible by using your headlights, wearing the proper clothes, and riding in the left portion of the lane to help others see you.
  • Beware of blind spots: Every vehicle has blind spots. Don’t linger in them. Keep in mind that large trucks and tractor-trailers have much larger blind spots on all sides.
  • Don’t speed: Driving too fast is a common cause of all accident types. Speeding is especially dangerous for motorcyclists because they lack the same safety protections enjoyed by other motorists.

Ride Sober

Don’t drink and ride. Being able to maneuver and respond quickly to emergencies is critical for motorcyclists. Even a small overcorrection could cause the bike to topple over. And with motor skills, judgment, and vision impaired by drinking alcohol before riding, small errors can have devastating consequences.

Adjust Your Driving at Night 

Motorcycle drivers are much harder to spot at night. Even with headlights and taillights on, it will be tricky for other drivers to tell the difference between a motorcycle and another car.

Don’t make any assumptions that other drivers will do the right thing. Instead, stay safe by:

  • Reducing your speed.
  • Increasing your following distance.
  • Watching the car in front of you. Headlights that bump up and down may indicate rough patches of road ahead of you.
  • Wearing reflective clothing.
  • Using your high beams whenever you can. Remember to turn them down when you see other cars coming to avoid blinding them.
  • Riding in the portion of your lane that gives you the best visibility. Don’t switch lanes frequently — it makes you unpredictable and can confuse other drivers.

How a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help

At Stokes Stemle, LLC, we hope you never need the help of a motorcycle accident attorney in Dothan or Montgomery, AL. But if you are hurt in an accident and someone else is to blame, talk to a lawyer right away.

Motorcycle accidents can cause some of the worst injuries, especially ones to the neck and head. These injuries can result in sky-high medical bills, lost time off work, and permanent disabilities. You should not have to pay for these expenses alone if another person caused the wreck.

An Alabama motorcycle accident lawyer from our firm will investigate your case, collect the evidence needed to support your claim, and negotiate effectively for the best possible result in your case. Compensation can cover medical costs, missed wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more.

Don’t wait to get started on the path to justice. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

At Stokes Stemle, LLC, we believe in personalized service. We get to know you, your case, and your needs. Then, we craft a legal strategy that is specially tailored to you.