While California winters are nowhere near the worst, there are days when motorcycling becomes more challenging due to heavy rain, ice, or even the occasional snow. The recent record-breaking snowfall along the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a testament to the Golden State’s ability to create a “winter wonderland” that presents serious risks.
The State of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) publishes a set of helpful riding guidelines for motorcyclists. While the things they contain are valid, following them will not guarantee you avoid a motorcycling accident in the winter or any other season.
The DMV recommendations are as follows:
- Dress well: Protecting your extremities is one part of it, yet you also need to protect your core. Your body auto-regulates, so if your core is too cold, it will pull blood and the oxygen it contains away from other areas of your body, such as your head, resulting in slower responses.
- Look for slippery surfaces: Water, be it snow, ice, or rain, reduces traction.
- Maintain your bike: If your tires are worn, you are less able to stop, steer or hold your line. If your turn signals have a loose wire, you can indicate all you like, but the drivers behind won’t see you.
- Plan ahead: Journeys take more time in foul weather, partly because you need to slow down, partly because poor weather results in heavy traffic.
The problem with this advice is only a fraction of motorcycle crashes are down to the motorcyclists themselves.
What about other road users?
However toasty you are, however tip-top your bike and however cautious you ride, it only takes a millisecond’s negligence by someone else to send you flying. So what can drivers do to reduce the chance they crash into you?
They can ensure their car is in good condition and ensure their windshields and windows are clear before setting off. They can warm their vehicle before leaving so that they do not need to wear that vision restricting hat, hood, and scarf combo. They too can plan and allow more time when traffic may be heavy, and they too can slow down when the surface may be slippery.
Keeping motorcyclists safe is a combined effort. If a driver hits you, showing how they failed to play their part will be crucial to claiming the compensation you will need.