Fall is the perfect time to hit the open road on two wheels.
The temperatures are crisp, the air clean, and the breeze gentle. You have gorgeous fall colors surrounding you just about everywhere you go in Illinois – even downtown Chicago. The golden hues of leaves, the orange and red colors filling the park, and the smell of pumpkin spice emanating from the local coffee shops make you want to soak up as much as you can before the winter season strikes.
While fall is a great time to experience the road on a motorcycle, unique hazards present themselves during this season. Whether you are an experienced or novice rider, knowing about these risks is imperative for your safety, the safety of passengers, and even the safety of those sharing the road with you.
Tips for Safer Motorcycle Riding during Chicago Fall Season
One of the best ways to avoid an accident is to know the risks. If you are unaware of the unique hazards during the fall, now is the time to read up and make sure you are prepared for your next trip. It doesn’t matter if you are going on a road tour for a few hundred miles or you are riding your motorcycle to work, these risks are real and increase the likelihood of a dangerous collision.
Look out for Falling Leaves
Unfortunately, one of the greatest aspects of fall can also be one of the biggest safety risks. Fall’s bright colors come with falling leaves by the pound. While riding backroads, you are more prone to finding leaves littering the roadway or even falling on top of you while you ride.
Falling leaves, for starters, create a visual hazard. They can block your line of sight. And when a gust of wind blows enough in front of you, you might find it impossible to see ahead.
Furthermore, leaves tend to become wet, muddy, and stick to the roadway. As they sit there, they break down and become slimy, slippery surfaces that trap oil and moisture. When riding your motorcycle, avoid patches of leaves that might affect your traction. If you have no choice but to ride over the patch of leaves, use caution and avoid sudden turns or braking while you are passing over them.
Lastly, realize that leaves cover hazards you might see otherwise. For example, you might have a pile of leaves covering a pothole. As you drive over it, your front tire enters the pothole while the rest of your bike leaps forward – throwing you with it. Again, this is why it is best to avoid the pile of leaves if you can.
Cooler Temperatures Mean Cooler Concrete and Less Traction
Not only are your tires slightly firmer in the fall because of the colder temperatures, but the concrete and paved surfaces you drive on are cold too. Your tires eventually come up to temperature from friction as you drive, but this takes longer. When you stop, your tires cool faster, putting you where you were initially.
Cold tires and cold concrete mean less traction. When tires are not as pliable, they do not grip the surface of the road, which can make it harder for precise turns or even stops. Use caution and be aware that the maneuvers you do in the summer are dangerous in the fall.
Mud, Dirt, and Slick Surfaces
Fall means more dirt and mud from rainfall – even if it has not rained for a few days. You also are more likely to encounter slicker roadways. Also, with the already decreased traction from colder tires, you are at higher risk for an accident if you try to maneuver suddenly.
Anyone that lives in Chicago knows that the temperatures are not always as clear as the weather person would like you to believe. What is deemed a “partly cloudy” day might turn into a sprinkle or full out rainstorm.
Because weather is so unpredictable in the fall, you should bring along rain gear, including goggles, so that the weather does not affect your ability to ride safely. Bring gear that is waterproof, even if there is only a risk of a light misting.
Fall Means Deer Season Too
Illinois State Police specifically mention deer season as part of their motorcycle safety to-do list. This is because fall season means crops are harvested, and deer must move to other places to forage. Deer might cross the streets, and they may cross in front of a motorcycle. A collision with a motorcycle and deer is almost always tragic for both parties involved. Always scan the road and the sides of the road, looking for reflections. Deer eyes naturally reflect with the headlamps of your motorcycle, which help you better see them hiding off to the side.
Prime crossing times are dawn and dusk. So, if you are riding at these times, exercise additional caution.
Frost on the Roads
It might not be winter, but overnight the temperatures drop enough to promote frost. Even a thin layer of liquid can turn into frost that can result in a severe loss of traction and increase your chances of an accident. Stay in the center of the road or follow the path of vehicles in front of you because you are less likely to find sheets of ice here.
Furthermore, remember that under bridges and on highway entrances and exits you may find icy sheets.
Check Your Bike before Each Ride
Regardless of the season, you should be doing a safety check on your vehicle. You want to ensure that you have enough brake pads, that your lines are not leaking, and you are not low on any fluids. Furthermore, check the traction and air pressure of your tires before each ride. With the fluctuating temperatures, your tire pressure may naturally decrease overnight and require replenishment before you hit the road again.
Change Out Your Helmet Visor
The cold air you experience while riding is harsher on the eyes, which might limit visibility. Consider changing out your helmet’s visor to a full or half visor. Also, make sure you are wearing a properly fitted helmet.
Wear a Helmet – Even If the Law Says You Aren’t Required to Do So
Yes, Illinois is one of the few states that does not require a helmet, but that does not mean you should go out on the highway without one. Not only will a helmet save you from a serious, traumatic injury in an accident, but if you are in a crash, that helmet can prevent contributory negligence from reducing your settlement.
For example, you are in an accident but you did not wear a helmet. Most of your injuries are because of your choice to not wear a helmet. The law didn’t require you to wear one, which means you did not commit a crime. However, tort laws require that you do your part to avoid being injured (or increase your injuries) in an accident. Therefore, failing to wear a helmet means you contributed, in part, to your injuries. As a result, the court will reduce your settlement by the percentage they feel you are at fault for – which could be extensive, depending on the case.
Know When It’s Time to Store
It is equally important that you know when it is time to put away the bike until spring shows up. Once there are more frosty mornings, cooler temperatures, or the rainy season really kicks in, winter is just around the corner. Now is probably a safe time to winterize your bike and park it until it is safe for riding again.
After all, you do not want to be caught in a snow flurry while you are trying to ride home in rush-hour traffic on I-90. Anyone that drives or rides in the snow knows that those first snowfalls tend to increase accidents; it seems drivers must re-familiarize themselves with how to drive on slick surfaces once again.
Know Your Rights Following a Motorcycle Crash – Speak with an Attorney
You might be the safest, most prepared rider out there. But you can still be involved in a serious accident. When you are in a motorcycle accident, the injuries are almost always more severe. You could suffer from lacerations, TBI, crush injuries, internal organ damage, and more.
The medical costs to recover from your accident are likely to be extensive – even in a low-speed accident case. You could miss days, weeks, or be permanently unable to work. Your disability leaves you unable to provide for your family, pay for living expenses, and your quality of life suffers tremendously.
When you did not cause the accident, why suffer the financial consequences? Instead, speak with an injury advocate who will fight for your right to compensation.
Contact the attorneys at Malman Law for a free case evaluation. We are here 24 hours per day, seven days per week to help you with your case.
Schedule a free consultation now at 888-625-6265 or request more information online.