A MOTORCYCLIST GUIDE TO STAYING SAFE AND AVOIDING DANGER ON THE ROADWAYS OF LOUISIANA
Louisiana is a paradise for motorcyclists, with swampland views, sites to explore, and idyllic weather conditions. The state also hosts numerous annual motorcycle rallies, biker parties, poker runs, rides, and charitable events. However, for all of Louisiana’s offerings, it is one of the most dangerous states for motorcyclists.
The Pelican State’s motorcycle death rate is among the top ten in the nation, with nine deaths per 10,000 motorcycles and 78 motorcycle crashes resulting in death in 2020. What’s most disconcerting is that most casualties would have been avoided if negligent motor vehicle drivers had paid more attention to the road.
Unfortunately, drivers becoming more aware is unlikely, as some continue to ignore the singular fact that we all share the roadways of Louisiana. So the burden is on motorcyclists to increase their safety and awareness.
The Risks of Motorcycles in Louisiana
Louisiana is infamous for its poorly maintained roads, which often contribute to motor vehicle accidents. The horrendous conditions, including uneven surfaces and potholes, can be hazardous for motorcycle riders, causing them to lose control of their bikes and crash.
Like the state’s roadways, Louisiana has a reputation for unsafe drivers. It’s easy for any driver to become distracted. We are all guilty of doing it at least once in our lives, whether playing with the radio, conversing with a passenger, or answering a phone call. However, it is in those moments when an accident can happen, and the more times a driver gets distracted, the odds of getting an accident increase.
A motorcyclist cannot compete with the attention an 18-wheeler trucker receives from other drivers. Truckers are hard to ignore on any roadway, whereas motorcyclists often seem invisible to drivers, but there are measures motorcyclists can take.
“Wearing high-visibility colors and retro-reflective materials will maximize the ability of drivers to see you,” said Lucia Sanchez, director of media strategy at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “Each vehicle has blind spots, so avoid staying in those areas. Staying in your lane also ensures other drivers will see you. Weaving in and out of cars can be dangerous and increases the chances of being hit. The Department of Defense has specific guidance for attire while operating a motorcycle.”
Motorcyclists must always be vigilant of other vehicles and surrounding hazardous elements. Operating a motorcycle while intoxicated or under the influence impairs a rider’s ability to remain aware, which is a recipe for disaster.
Earning a Louisiana Motorcycle Endorsement
There’s no doubt that Louisiana’s weather makes it the perfect place for year-long motorcycle riding. Still, it’s imperative for riders to follow the law and wear helmets with padding, a visor, and a chin strap (a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet is recommended). Riders must also carry liability insurance and a motorcycle endorsement.
Louisiana does not offer a separate motorcycle license, only an endorsement applied to a driver’s license. To receive a motorcycle endorsement, applicants must pass a motorcycle knowledge test and an on-cycle road skills test.
Applicants who complete the Basic Rider Course offered by the Department of Public Safety can bypass both exams. The course takes 15 hours and can be completed over a weekend. Riders learn essential skills and how to navigate traffic safely.
The course aims to teach applicants who have never ridden a motorcycle before, but attending the course would benefit even the most experienced riders. The Basic Rider Course is $25 for applicants with a motorcycle and $100 for those needing a training motorcycle.
Applicants who have completed the written exam can finish a course from the following approved providers:
- Taboo Harley-Davidson in Alexandria, LA
- Hammond Harley-Davidson in Hammond, LA
- Cajun Harley-Davidson in Lafayette, LA (Welborn & Hargett’s preferred choice)
Improving Safety and Awareness
After a crash, motorcyclists rarely walk away without injury. Even in a low-speed collision, riders can suffer serious injuries. The most common injuries include road rash, lower body trauma, and head trauma. Recovering from any of these injuries can take a long time. There are simple measures that every motorcyclist should follow.
Motorcycles are fast and can zip in and out of traffic, but that doesn’t mean riders should operate their bike recklessly. Riding at a slower pace allows riders to react more efficiently to situations on the road, such as getting cut off by a negligent driver.
Wear Proper Gear
Unfortunately, some riders do not adequately protect themselves beyond what’s legally required.
Every rider should have a Department of Transportation-compliant helmet, padded jacket, padded pants, boots, and reflective gear. Proper gear can save a person’s life.
Hiring a Louisiana Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Anyone suffering from a motorcycle accident due to another’s negligence needs an immediate legal review. The law firm of Welborn & Hargett can provide victims with a clear assessment of what they deserve. The firm answers phone calls 24/7 at (337) 205-3758. For more information, visit (www.wandhlawfirm.com).