Riding a motorcycle can be especially challenging when it is raining or during other inclement weather conditions. For many Texans, a motorcycle is their only form of transportation and taking a day off from work may not be possible just because it is raining. Motorcyclists can ride safely when road conditions are wet. Read below to find out what happens to the road when it rains and how to stay safe while riding motorcycles in the rain.
Road Hazards in Wet Conditions
When it rains, the roads get wet (obviously) but riders must be prepared for more than water to affect road conditions. Roads soak up oil and other substances under normal, dry conditions. These substances are then lifted to the surface of the road by rainwater. Those substances sitting on the top of the road can make it especially slick within the first hour of a rainstorm before oils and debris wash away. Road paint, reflectors, and tar on the road can also become much more slippery when it rains. Even metal manhole covers can be dangerous when there are heavy rains or flooding. Manhole covers are notorious for popping out of place and floating down the road, leaving large sewer holes exposed in the road, as well as the thick metal covers themselves sitting on top of the road as a major bump that could knock a rider off their motorcycle if hit unexpectedly.
Water sitting on top of the road becomes dangerous as it gets between your tires and the road, in turn reducing the grip of your tires. Having thick tread is essential for removing water from between your tires and the road. The more tread on your tires, the more effective they will be when riding in the rain. Rain and slippery conditions can decrease your ability to brake, accelerate, and turn as you normally would. Cars and trucks experience this same phenomenon; but with four wheels they are typically able to maneuver through the rain with ease if they are paying attention to road appropriately.
Visibility during a rainstorm decreases for all drivers, which can quickly lead to devastating motorcycle accidents. As a motorcyclist, you are consistently riding defensively to stay safe during dry conditions. When it is raining, you must take even more precautions before heading on the road with car and truck drivers. Passenger and commercial vehicles already have difficulty spotting motorcycles on the road, which causes deadly accidents, but in the rain it is even more dangerous. Cars can quickly spin out of control if a driver is not paying attention and you must remain aware to avoid being hit and seriously injured or killed.
How to Stay Safe in the Rain
There are many ways to ride motorcycles in the rain and avoid cars and trucks that may not be practicing safe driving.
Here are our top five tips for staying safe while riding in wet conditions:
- Inspect your bike before riding.
Check the tread on your tires to ensure there is enough for proper traction on slippery roads. Also check the PSI of each tire to ensure the pressure matches your tire’s rating. Check the brake pads to make sure there is enough material to stop suddenly during wet weather. Also check your oil and brake fluids to ensure safe motorcycle operation.
- Wear the proper gear.
Before you head out on the road, choose to wear water-resistant or waterproof clothing, including jackets, pants, or one-piece coveralls. Wet clothes on your skin will become cold, which can reduce your body’s reaction time to changes on the road around you. It is important to be warm and dry when riding so that you can focus solely on the road and not on shivering in the rain. Don’t forget to wear proper riding boots and gloves that fit appropriately and can keep water out. A full-faced helmet provides protection from water and can block rain, wind, and debris from getting into your eyes. If you are not able to wear a full-face helmet, choose a good pair of anti-fogging goggles to wear with a ½ or ¾ faced helmet. Make sure your helmet has been treated for fog, as well as your windshield, so that you are able to maintain visibility. Keep a dry change of clothes in a plastic bag or in a storage compartment so you can change when you arrive at your destination.
- Slow down and ride smoothly.
While going fast on a motorcycle can be thrilling and fun, speeding motorcycle during a rainstorm decreases traction, reduces visibility, and reduces the time you have to react before crashing. Having time to identify hazards on the road ahead is critical to riding safely in the rain. Relax your body and have soft hands while riding as well.
- Give everyone plenty of space.
Car and truck drivers may not drive carefully during a rainstorm and can easily lose control on slippery surfaces. By giving other vehicles on the road plenty of space, including letting faster vehicles pass you safely, you will have ample time to react to someone skidding out of control, rear-ending another car, or running a light because they could not stop in time. When you see something ahead, try to brake more quickly than you normally would to avoid any dangerous situations, and keep an eye on your mirrors to make sure the vehicles behind you aren’t dangerously close.
- Be wary of intersections.
Any place where vehicles stop frequently will accumulate oil and other drippings from vehicle exhaust and undercarriages. Because cars and trucks frequently stop at intersections, be prepared to see skidding, cars out of control, and cars slipping when trying to stop. When approaching an intersection during a rainstorm, it is best to decrease your speed and brake slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to stop before reaching the intersection. Keep an eye on the vehicles behind you just in case you need to react quickly to a car that can’t stop on the slippery road.
Houston Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Houston motorcyclists should not fear driving on our roads every day. If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle crash, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact the Houston biker crash lawyers at Dax F. Garza, P.C. to learn more about how we can help you recover.