If you love biking as much as our leading Chicago motorcycle accident attorney does, you might bike through any weather and whenever the mood strikes. However, winter brings about some particularly dangerous challenges. Below are a few tips to ensure your trips are as safe as you can make them on those February roads.
Dress for the Occasion
If you’re driving in weather that can drop below freezing, it’s vital to wear clothing that will protect your body from frostbite and hypothermia. Keeping your torso and head warm are your body’s top priorities, so make sure to have adequate coverage for both—otherwise, you’ll begin to lose warmth in your extremities (arms and legs). Go for layers. Having several levels of insulation will not only protect you from harsher temperatures, but they can also be removed if you’re overheating. Make sure some of your bottommost layers are also moisture-resistant. If you perspire and the moisture sticks to your skin, it will bring down your body temperature. Leather and fleece are good materials to layer with. Quality not quantity is the primary goal for layering. Maintaining an adequate warmth level while avoiding bulk will give you better protection on the road.
Prepare the Motorcycle
People use particular types of gear on their bikes during the winter months. Windscreens and handguards will protect your face and hands from wind chill and snow. Having these two types of equipment in addition to insulated gloves and a helmet/face mask will keep the frostbite away, as your hands, feet, and nose are particularly vulnerable to it. You could also try buying heated grips for the motorcycles.
If you know a cold front is on the way or is likely to be on the way, make sure your motorcycle is always in peak condition before starting a trip. Check tire pressure and make sure your tires have adequate tread so you won’t be surprised by a malfunction far away from shelter. To keep your tires from getting too cold, try accelerating and decelerating quickly once in a while.
While care and attention are essential even in perfect, sunny temperatures, it becomes more vital with increased obstacles in the road. In colder locations, motorcyclists will always have to worry about icy roads. During the 2008–2009 winter season, at least 458 people in the United States died as a result of icy roads. Keep an eye out for black ice in shadier areas of the road. There is more likely to be patches of ice in windy places such as bridges or valleys. If you have to cross an icy road, do so at a slow speed, and bike over it in a steady, straight line—do this only if it’s a small patch. A longer patch of ice, or a patch on a curved road, will increase your chances of a crash. Also, if you have to bike over ice, try not to accelerate or brake too much; use the clutch and keep your feet on the pegs or floorboards. While you’re biking, keep a healthy distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Not only will this protect you from crashing into them if they brake suddenly, but it will keep any frost or snow they kick up from smacking into you or your bike. If you become too cold, take a break and pull into a gas station or restaurant to have some warm drinks until your temperature returns to normal. Hypothermia can reduce coordination and cause an accident (and it can be sneaky), so it’s best to head it off before it starts.
Be careful out there. If you take the necessary precautions, you’ll reduce your chances of injury to both yourself and your bike. However, if you were unlucky enough to experience a problem, talk to one of our motorcycle accident attorneys for a free case consultation.