With an extended long weekend for many, that means more cars and motorcycles will be on the road over the next few days. Not since 2005 were gas prices this low for the upcoming fourth of July holiday. AAA estimates that 44.2 million people will be on the roads driving at least fifty miles from home.
Of course, the more drivers on the road, the more accidents and the more fatalities. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the July 4th holiday is the deadliest with 122 fatalities on average each year.
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has already issued a warning on being cautious over the next few days if you are out riding.
So, with a long weekend upon you, more drivers on the road than ever distracted, and more drivers driving under the influence, how do you protect yourself?
Well, in south Florida that’s easy. It is exactly 5:22 p.m., and the temperature is 91 degrees with the “feels like” temperature at 98 degrees. Every day the “feels like” temperature exceeds 100 degrees, so for me and many others, our motorcycles are put away for now. For those riding, it will usually be when the sun goes down and the temperature lowers somewhat, at least mid-eighties. But for those not living five minutes from the sun, what can you do?
For one, common sense overrules everything else. No drinking and riding. Too many riders think they ride better when they have been drinking, not understanding that they have less fear due to the effects of alcohol, aka “beer balls.”
Wear proper motorcycle riding gear. Wear your riding boots, googles, gloves, and of course, helmet, regardless of your state’s helmet law.
I’m always cautious of where and what time I am riding because I do live in a large metropolitan city. For example, riding at 5 p.m. is not smart unless you don’t mind bumper-to-fender traffic, which is very dangerous to begin with. And with the temperature close to 100 degrees, the last thing you want is the heat rising from your motorcycle into your face while you inhale fumes from the muffler in front of you.
I purposefully skip certain dates and/or times when it comes to riding. St. Patty’s Day and Cinco de Mayo are two other dates where I’m unlikely to be riding. Hell, I don’t even like to go in my car. Too much drinking going on for my taste.
But, those that are itching to ride, just simply be careful. If someone is speeding or driving aggressively, let them go by. Avoid a heavily congested route if possible, and if need be, avoid the later hours where most people are going home after a long day of drinking. Focus on your lane position and before you cross that intersection, take a second longer to make sure no one is taking the red light.
If you really want to ride, go for a nice early morning ride and meet up with your friends in your car.
Be safe and have a great weekend.