Q: Why is it more dangerous to ride my motorcycle during the winter months than it is during the spring and summer months?
Although the weather is turning colder, you just can’t face having to put your motorcycle away for an entire five months. Five months! That’s 300 days—if you’re lucky and winter doesn’t last through April. You just can’t do it. You need at least three...four...okay, maybe five more rides in order to sustain yourself. But, will it be safe to continue riding, even though the weather is getting colder?
You’ve read all the safety manuals, taken countless riding courses, and have all the protective gear that the shop suggested, but you’re still worried. Are you just being paranoid, or is riding in cold weather really that dangerous? Why does a few degrees make such a difference on whether or not you should be riding your motorcycle?
Cold Weather Hazards for Motorcyclists
Over the past several decades, it has been a somewhat assumed fact than most motorcyclists in colder climates store their bikes during the winter months of September through March. Due to freezing temperatures and unpredictable weather, you rarely see a biker on a Maryland highway after Thanksgiving. As a result, motorcycle accident rates for these months were barely existent. However, over the past few years, this assumption has begun to lose conviction and accidents are on the rise.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that winter motorcycle accidents have almost tripled since 2000. Although significant research hasn’t been conducted as to why the sudden influx, the NHTSA does report that motorcycle traffic has also drastically increased throughout these months, even though the same winter riding risks from before 2000 still apply.
These risks include:
- Windchill affecting your concentration. Windchill is how the amount of wind effects how the temperature feels on your skin. As the wind increases, it draws heat from your body, driving down your skin and internal body temperature, making the actual outside temperature appear to be colder. When you suffer the effects of a temperature drop, you can become disoriented, shaky, and irritable.
- Frostbite affecting your control. Frostbite occurs when your body tissues begin to freeze as a result of heat loss. Symptoms includes the burning, tingling, or the loss of sensations in the affected areas, along with a deep reddening or purpling of the skin.
- Hypothermia affecting your awareness. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, due to heat loss and freezing temperatures penetrating your skin and muscles. Warning signs include loss of feeling in your extremities, disorientation, incoherence, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness, exhaustion, nausea, and uncontrollable shivering.
- Slippery roads affecting your traction. Motorcycles already have less traction than normal four-wheeled vehicles, and slush, melting snow, freezing rain, and ice, can decrease that traction even further. When your traction is decreased, your risks of slipping, sliding, and losing control are immeasurably increased.
- Road damage affecting your stability. Ice, salt, excessive rain, and blisteringly cold weather can cause roadways to crack, split, and crumble—increasing your risk for collisions.
Protecting Yourself During and After a Winter Ride
Riding a motorcycle always comes with risks. The simple truth is this is what makes riding so thrilling for many motorcyclists—the element of danger. However, you can still have that thrill without risking your life, or potentially putting others in harm’s way. If you choose to ride during colder weather, make sure you take all the necessary precautions to stay warm, maintain your bike, and keep control. Otherwise, your thrill could cost you your life.
Have you already been injured and need advice about your motorcycle accident claim? Contact us today for a free consultation and more information about how our experience can help you and your family.
Don’t be a statistic! Pay attention, follow motorcycle safety guidelines, and use your best judgment when it comes to winter riding. You can also help decrease future collisions by sharing this page with your friends, family, and social connections. Click the media icons on this page, to promote winter riding awareness, and show your support for motorcycle safety. Help us keep our roads safe for the New Year, share now!