St. Petersburg is a Pinellas County city famous for its moderate weather and stunning scenery, which attracts many motorcyclists. While it doesn’t have the usual hairpin turns that give that rush of adrenaline to motorcycle riders, the roads are nevertheless dangerous.
The latest report from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 5,579 motorcyclists died in 2020, which is the highest number since 1975. In Pinellas alone, 438 of the 6,736 motorcycle accidents resulted in death.
Motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries, which may include spinal cord injuries, amputation, road rash, traumatic brain injuries, and wrongful death. It can also have a life-changing impact on you and your family.
If you or a loved one were involved in a motorcycle accident, you might be entitled to compensation from the insurance company, the at-fault driver, or both.
A St. Petersburg motorcycle accident lawyer can inform you of your right to receive just and fair compensation.
Why Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur in St. Petersburg, Florida?
Florida’s great scenery and sunny weather are major attractions for many motorcycle drivers. However, when these motorcycles hit urban highways, accidents can happen.
It doesn’t help that the city intersects with the deadliest road in Florida – US 19. An analysis showed that most accidents happen in the 4.7-mile stretch from 54th Ave N to Queensboro Ave S. The average crash per mile is 5.1.
This busy highway leads to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, spanning Lower Tampa Bay and connecting St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia. The stretch leads to bars and restaurants, nightlife, and other beaches, including St. Pete Beach, which can rival Clearwater Beach.
However, motorcycles are more likely to be involved in serious accidents when they hit busy roads. Often, other drivers won’t notice motorcycles when turning or changing lanes.
Florida has the second-highest number of individuals aged 65 years and older, as 21.3% of the state’s population falls into that age group. While Florida may impose special requirements for older drivers, old-age driving also increases the risk of road accidents. Aside from a reduced reaction time, senior drivers may have poor vision and lack coordination.
Aside from senior drivers, below are two of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in St. Petersburg:
Distracted driving, such as reading a text message, answering a phone call, or eating, can lead to fatal road accidents. Distractions take away the driver’s attention from safely operating a vehicle.
Such actions can harm the people inside the vehicle and others on the road. Moreover, a distracted driver won’t be able to respond quickly to possible dangers and hazards.
Distracted driving generally falls into one of the following three categories:
- Manual distraction: This is when the driver removes their hands from the wheel. For example, if they need to reach out and grab a burger or something else from the compartment, their hands may not be on the steering wheel, which means they’ll be slow to respond to possible dangers.
- Visual distraction: This happens when the driver takes their eyes off the road, such as focusing on a navigation system. Since their attention is on something else, they may not see potential hazards, such as oncoming traffic, including motorcyclists.
- Cognitive distraction: Perhaps the most dangerous is a mental distraction, which occurs when the driver’s mind is somewhere else. Cognitively distracted drivers can become fully absorbed in their thoughts and fail to respond to changing road conditions.
Distracted driving causes the highest number of road fatalities. According to the NHTSA, over 3,000 people die on an annual basis because of distracted driving.
A common reason for distracted driving is mobile phone use, which is why texting while driving is a punishable offense. In Florida, a motorcycle accident caused by distracted driving will entitle the injured party to file a personal injury claim.
Aside from distracted driving, a vehicular accident can be complicated by road rage. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines road rage as “aggressive or confrontational behavior while driving, typically triggered by an actual or imagined transgression by another driver.”
Many factors, such as busy roads, heat, and high stress, can contribute to anger behind the wheel. Aggression can also be verbal aggression or dangerous driving, which can cause property damage, motorcycle accident injuries, and wrongful death. However, according to the APA, road rage is not a mental disorder.
A survey found that road rage is quite common, with about 79% of American drivers exhibiting this type of behavior. Between 2016 to 2021, Pinellas County reported 2,389 aggressive driving cases. Road rage can also result in other events, such as shootings. In fact, road rage shootings spiked in 2021, most of which happened in Florida.
Despite the prevalence of road rage, no laws address it, as it can be tricky to quantify. While it can contribute to accidents or property damage, it’s often not the direct or singular cause.
Florida has enacted laws to curb road accidents and indirectly deter road rage. For example, the state requires drivers who were involved in three accidents in the past three years to complete a driver improvement course. If drivers want to keep their driving privileges, this course is mandatory.
Florida Laws and Requirements for Motorcycle Drivers
The Sunshine State is also home to Daytona Beach Bike Week, which attracts 400,000 bikers. These numbers highlight that Florida roads are great for motorcycles primarily because of the state’s almost ideal weather and well-liked spots. Since Florida is a popular destination for motorcyclists, the state has enacted the following laws to promote road safety:
Florida Motorcycle Helmet Laws
All motorcyclists in Florida aged 21 years and below must wear helmets. However, if you’re older than 21 and choose not to wear a helmet, you must have medical insurance worth at least $10,000, which will cover medical treatment if you’re involved in an accident.
Wearing a helmet can save lives; therefore, motorcycle riders should wear helmets for safety. Several studies have shown that wearing a helmet provides protection from severe brain injuries in motorcycle accidents.
Anyone driving a motorcycle without a helmet, who is aged 21 years and below or who doesn’t have sufficient medical insurance, will receive a ticket and be required to pay a fine.
Eye Protection is Mandatory for All Riders
Unlike headgear, eye protection is mandatory when operating a motorcycle in Florida. According to Florida statutes 316.211 (2), regardless of age or insurance coverage, no one can operate a motorcycle unless they’re wearing eye protection.
Lane Splitting is Illegal
Regardless of the speed of traffic, Florida does not allow motorcycles to ride between two traffic lanes.
St. Petersburg Motorcycle Equipment Requirements
Aside from laws requiring motorcyclists to use protective gear, Florida also has statutes that cover motorcycle equipment.
- According to Florida Statutes 316.294, motorcycles must have mirrors that provide the driver an excellent rear view of the highway of at least 200 feet.
- Motorcycles carrying passengers must provide adequate seating and footrest.
- Regardless of road conditions and visibility, motorcyclists must always turn on their headlights.
- To receive a license plate, you must register your motorcycle. The color and design of license plates, which must be visible to other motorists, are different for drivers under the age of 21.
- The handlebars cannot be higher than the shoulders of the driver of the motorcycle.
On top of the motorcycle equipment requirements, motorcyclists must also receive a motorcycle endorsement. This should be reflected on their driver’s license, or they can also secure a “Motorcycle Only” license.
Failure to adhere to these motorcycle laws can result in a traffic infraction. Additionally, it can also impact their motorcycle accident claim. When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, it can be difficult to make an insurance claim if they don’t follow the law. This can happen even if they’re not the at-fault party.
Florida comparative negligence laws may still provide you with a good case for a financial claim. However, this can depend on how efficiently your lawyer advocates for your interests. Your choice of personal injury attorney matters in such a case.
Let Us Help You With Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
Florida is famed for its pristine landscapes, sun-drenched beaches, and expansive opportunities for recreation. St. Petersburg even holds the title for having the most consecutive days with sunshine. These qualities make it a perfect place to ride your motorbike.
However, don’t let its captivating beauty make you forget that the city is also famous for its dangerous roads. When you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s crucial to know your rights and how you can get a fair settlement for personal injury or wrongful death.
Get a free case review and proper guidance from experts.
FAQs on Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in St. Petersburg
Motorcycle crashes can have complications that require advice and guidance from an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. A motorcyclist may not be at fault, but motorcycle bias, which is when others assume that you’re at fault simply because you’re on a motorcycle, can complicate the case.
You need to call a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer to get you the most appropriate settlement so that you can cover your medical bills and other losses and expenses.
Like car accidents, you should file your motorcycle accident claim within four years of the incident. Missing the deadline can lead to your case being dismissed.
You may find the nearest and most reliable St. Petersburg accident attorney via the Malpractice Center, your top legal resource in Florida.