Riding a motorcycle provides a sense of freedom and exhilaration that is hard to replicate. However, motorcycle riders also face heightened risks compared to driving a car, especially when bad weather strikes. In Nebraska, rain, snow, and ice can create slippery and dangerous conditions for motorcyclists. Understanding these risks and how to mitigate them is key to staying safe on two wheels. If a crash does occur, it’s worth speaking with an Omaha personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.
The Slippery Slope: How Rainfall Impacts Traction and Visibility
Wet roads pose a significant hazard for motorcycles. Unlike cars, motorcycles have a much smaller contact patch where the tires meet the road surface. This smaller contact area provides considerably less traction on slick pavement when it’s raining. Painted lines, manhole covers, oil spots, and railroad tracks also become extremely slippery when covered in water. Impaired visibility is another major issue in wet conditions, as rainfall can severely hinder a rider’s vision. The blinding effect of rain makes it much harder to spot road hazards and also makes motorcycles harder to see for other vehicles sharing the road.
When rainfall is moderate or heavy, motorcyclists should reduce speed significantly, allow an extra following distance of 4-6 seconds from other vehicles, avoid any abrupt acceleration or braking, and watch for hydroplaning puddles that could cause a sudden loss of control if ridden through. Wearing high visibility waterproof riding gear can improve visibility, as does operating headlights to stand out more. Keeping visors or eye protection clear using anti-fog treatments is also essential for maintaining good vision to spot hazards.
Slippery Slopes: How Snow and Ice Reduce Control
In Nebraska’s colder late fall and winter months, snow and ice introduce possibly the most treacherous riding conditions. Icy patches, snow-covered roads, slush buildup, black ice at night, and generally poor visibility all severely reduce the motorcycle’s stability, acceleration, turning, and braking capabilities. Newly fallen snow can also obscure road markings, lane edges, potholes, and other obstacles. Dangerously low temperatures combined with high winds or precipitation create brutally harsh conditions. Ultimately, it takes very little snow or ice accumulation to significantly degrade visibility, traction, and motorcycle handling compared to a four-wheeled vehicle.
If riding in snowy weather is truly unavoidable, extremely slow speeds below 25 mph and gentle steady throttle/brake inputs can help retain control compared to abrupt changes. But the best practice is avoiding riding in snow altogether due to the heightened crash risk. Waiting for roads to be plowed, treated with salt or sand, and completely de-iced will improve safety dramatically compared to packed snow or slippery surfaces. Riding in these conditions requires peak focus, smooth inputs, and questioning whether the ride is necessary.
Safety Precautions to Take in Any Weather
No matter the weather conditions, riders should always take key precautions:
- Wear abrasion-resistant protective riding gear covering arms, legs, vital organs, and head
- Equip bikes with specialized snow/rain tires if riding in precipitation is likely
- Frequently check tire tread depth and replace if under 1/8 inch
- Maintain greater following distances from other vehicles
- Understand and practice emergency braking techniques
- Take a motorcycle safety course focusing on hazard avoidance and crash prevention
- Cancel rides in extremely harsh winds, heavy rain/snow, dense fog, or icy temps
Observing these universal safety guidelines provides a degree of protection from the elements and preparedness in hazardous situations. But ultimately, avoiding the highest risk riding conditions may be the wisest decision.
Seeking Legal Help if Injured in a Crash
If an inclement weather-related motorcycle crash occurs, immediately seek emergency medical care even for seemingly minor injuries, as adrenaline can mask internal trauma. Multiple studies show that seeing a physician quickly leads to the best long-term recovery chances.
For the property damage and physical injuries sustained, an experienced Nebraska personal injury attorney can advise you regarding the compensation options available. This includes recouping medical bills, lost wages from missed work, pain and suffering damages, motorcycle repair/replacement costs, and other accident-related losses.
Personal injury lawyers understand negligence laws and insurance claims processes thoroughly. They use this expertise to fight at-fault parties and obtain the maximum recovery amount to help you move forward after a devastating crash.
Riding safely requires proactively adjusting to ever-changing road conditions while understanding the risks posed by rain, snow and ice. But taking proper precautions allows Nebraskans to continue enjoying motorcycle riding between the raindrops during spring showers and into the winter chill.
Prioritize safety precautions first, dress appropriately for the climate, inspect your vehicle, and remain vigilant about diminished traction from precipitation. With mindfulness about the hazards ahead, bikers can retain the freedoms of the open road regardless of what falls from the skies.
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle crash that wasn’t your fault, we can help. We have offices in 32 locations and 19 states including Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Call us today for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.