How Dangerous Is Riding a Motorcycle in Florida?

January 20, 2021

As a motorcyclist, you know that there is an inherent danger in riding, no matter where you are – especially in Florida. You do not have the same protection as drivers of four-wheeled vehicles. In an accident, you are more likely to be injured, and those injuries are usually much more severe.

Riding a motorcycle in Florida is particularly hazardous. Florida may lead the nation in citrus production, but the Sunshine State also has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most dangerous states for motorcyclists. The average number of accident-related fatalities is higher than California’s, even though the population is substantially smaller. Further, the number of fatalities per one million residents is 6%, which is almost twice as high as the second leading state.

A variety of factors play into motorcycle accidents, including year-round riding weather, extreme weather conditions that make it hazardous to ride, operator error or carelessness, and, all too frequently, negligence or distraction on the part of automobile drivers. They often fail to see motorcycles and the simple act of changing lanes without carefully checking blind spots can result in disaster.

Before you head out for work, on errands, or for an adventure, what should you know about motorcycle laws in Florida?

Protect Yourself: Know Motorcycle Laws in Florida 

Riding a motorcycle in the Sunshine State – or anywhere for that matter – is risky. This is why motorcyclists need to ride with extra care and caution. It’s not fair but they do need to be on guard constantly for inattentive drivers and other conditions that can cause an accident. They also have to be aware of these important motorcycle laws in Florida:

Motorcycle Endorsement: Motorcyclists must have a motorcycle endorsement from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. If you already have a driver’s license, you can add this endorsement. To do so, you need to:

  • Complete the Basic RiderCourse (BRC) or Basic RiderCourse updated (BRCu) motorcycle safety course with an authorized Sponsor.
  • Visit a driver’s license office with proof of successful completion of the RiderCourse within one year of completion and pay the required endorsement fees.

Motorcycle-Only License:  Another option is to get a motorcycle-only license. You must:

  • Be at least 16 years old, and if under 18, hold at least a Learner’s License for one year with no traffic convictions.
  • Pass the same knowledge test as for a regular Class E operator’s driver’s license.
  • Complete the BRC or the BRCu with an authorized Sponsor
  • Visit a driver’s license office with proof of successful completion of the RiderCourse within one year of completion and pay the required endorsement fees.

Motorcycle Insurance: Unlike automobiles, proof of insurance is not required to register a motorcycle in Florida.  However, riders will be held financially responsible if charged in a motorcycle crash.  To protect yourself and your bike, consider purchasing the following coverages:

  • Bodily Injury (BI) with limits of at least $10,000 per person/$20,000 per accident
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) – highest limit you can afford
  • Property Damage (PD) with limits of at least $10,000

Florida’s no-fault laws do not apply to motorcycles, so in the event of an accident, a rider must pursue the at-fault party’s liability insurance.  Because bodily injury liability coverage is not required in Florida, a rider may have limited or no insurance coverage to pursue if the at-fault party is underinsured or uninsured, unless the rider has UM coverage.  

What happens if a rider is uninsured?

If you are found at fault for an accident and do not have the minimum coverages outlined above, you could:

  • Have your driving privileges suspended
  • Have your registration and tag suspended
  • Be required to purchase bodily injury/property damage liability coverage for 3 years
  • Have a civil judgment entered against you for the other party’s injuries and property damage

Helmet: Florida’s helmet laws are not as stringent as some other states. If you are over 21 years of age and carry insurance with at least $10,000 in medical benefits coverage, you are not required to wear a helmet. Our advice: wear it anyway. If you are involved in an accident and suffer a head injury, for example, $10,000 of coverage will pay only a small fraction of your medical expenses.

Motorcycle Safety: Florida law requires:

  • All riders to wear approved eye protection
  • The headlight must be on at all times
  • A rear red reflector
  • At least one stop lamp
  • Turn signals
  • A tail light
  • At least one rearview mirror
  • That handlebars are no higher than your shoulders when you are seated

There are some other laws that you should be aware of. For example, Florida allows you to ride two abreast in one lane. Drivers must give you a full lane in which to operate. It is also important to understand that lane splitting (passing in the same lane) and riding between lanes are against the law in the Sunshine State.  Also illegal:  drag racing, popping wheelies, facing backward while riding, passing off-pavement, and carrying items that prevent both hands on the handlebars.

As a rider, I understand the joys of riding as well as the dangers. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced West Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyer immediately. Taking this step ensures that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.

Contact Casas Law today for a consultation; we provide aggressive representation for each and every client.  

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