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April 29, 2024

How Road Hazards Affect Jacksonville Motorcyclists: What To Look For

damaged motorcycle on asphalt after a car accident

Motorcycle accidents are notoriously more likely to result in fatalities compared to incidents involving other types of vehicles. In particular, Jacksonville, FL, has garnered attention for its notably high rate of motorcycle-related incidents, which is more than double the national average. This statistic is especially concerning, given the broader context of motorcycle safety.

In the year 2023 alone, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported a staggering 9,522 motorcycle accidents within the state, out of which 604 tragically resulted in fatalities. Such figures not only underscore the inherent risks associated with motorcycle riding but also position Jacksonville, FL, as the most dangerous city for motorcycle enthusiasts in terms of safety. This alarming data highlights the urgent need for enhanced safety measures and awareness campaigns to protect motorcycle riders.

Motorcyclists Are More Vulnerable on the Road

Several factors make motorcycles more susceptible to severe injuries and fatalities in accidents compared to incidents involving conventional vehicles. The lack of a protective frame around the rider, the high performance-to-weight ratio, and the smaller visual profile in traffic significantly increase the risk for motorcyclists. This heightened vulnerability underscores why motorcyclists must exercise extra caution on the road, always be aware of their surroundings, and adopt defensive driving techniques to enhance their safety.

Here are several reasons why motorcyclists should be particularly vigilant on the road:

Common Road Hazards

Due to their inherent vulnerabilities, motorcycles significantly increase the risk for riders to lose control when encountering road hazards, compared to drivers of heavier, more stable vehicles. These vulnerabilities require motorcyclists to not only be vigilant but to also have a comprehensive understanding of potential road dangers.

It is crucial for the safety of motorcyclists to be well-informed about the types of hazards they may face, such as slippery surfaces, potholes, or unexpected obstacles, and to learn the most effective techniques for navigating these challenges. Engaging in continuous learning and practicing defensive driving strategies for optimal safety can greatly reduce the risks associated with motorcycle riding.

Predictable Road Hazard Encounters

Motorcycle riders are significantly more exposed to road dangers than drivers of passenger vehicles. The less stable, two-wheeled nature of motorcycles, coupled with the rider’s increased vulnerability, means that awareness of potential road hazards is crucial for safety. Here, we focus on key road hazards that motorcycle drivers should vigilantly watch for to prevent accidents and ensure a safer ride.

Roads and Railroad Crossings

Road surfaces themselves can present multiple hazards for motorcyclists. Railroad crossings, in particular, demand attention. These crossings often have tracks raised above the road surface and may be set at an angle to the direction of travel. For a motorcycle that depends on balance and has a relatively narrow tire contact patch with the road, these raised, and angled tracks can lead to loss of control, especially if crossed at high speeds or an improper angle. Riders must approach railroad crossings slowly and cross tracks as perpendicularly as possible to avoid getting the wheels caught.

Rough Roadways

Roads plagued with potholes, bumps, and uneven surfaces pose significant risks to motorcyclists. Such irregularities can unsettle a motorcycle’s suspension, leading to loss of control or even ejecting the rider. Vigilance and maintaining a moderate speed are key to navigating rough roadways safely. Additionally, riders should avoid sudden maneuvers and, when possible, safely maneuver around such road defects.

Edge Breaks

Edge breaks—where two traffic lanes are at different heights—can be particularly dangerous when switching lanes. These uneven surfaces can cause a motorcycle’s tire to slip or catch, potentially leading to a loss of control. Riders need to be aware of these differences in elevation and approach them at a shallow angle to reduce the risk of an accident.

Expansion Joints and Bridge Joints

Expansion and bridge joints are necessary for allowing roadways and bridges to expand and contract with temperature changes. However, these joints can be treacherous for motorcycles, especially if the wheels run parallel to the joint, increasing the chance of the tire getting caught or the bike being destabilized. Motorcyclists should aim to cross these joints straight on and avoid sudden speed or direction changes when navigating over them.

Pavement Issues

Potholes, uneven surfaces, and cracks can be more than just minor annoyances for motorcyclists; they can cause loss of control or damage to the motorcycle. Wet pavement, especially after the first rain following a dry spell, can be slippery due to oil and grime, reducing tire traction.

Weather Conditions

Rain not only makes the road slippery, posing a hazard to traction, but it also significantly decreases visibility for motorcyclists and other drivers alike, thereby increasing the risk of accidents. In such wet conditions, it is crucial for motorcyclists to equip themselves with appropriate gear, such as waterproof clothing and anti-fog visors, to maintain visibility and safety. Furthermore, adopting a more cautious approach to driving, including reducing speed and maintaining a larger following distance, becomes essential to navigate the challenges of rainy weather.

Severe wind conditions also present a significant challenge for motorcyclists, as the force of the wind can unexpectedly push the motorcycle off its intended course, creating potential safety hazards. Riding in such conditions requires a solid and firm grip on the handlebars and an acute awareness of the wind’s direction. Riders must be prepared to lean into the wind with precision to maintain control over their vehicle. This technique demands a combination of physical strength, mental focus, and keen riding skills to effectively counteract the wind’s force and ensure a safe journey.

Unpredictable Road Hazards

Just as a rider must navigate visible and foreseeable hazards, a range of unpredictable dangers heightens the risks for motorcycle enthusiasts. Grasping these hazards and their potential threats is crucial for every rider. Below are several critical hazards that all motorcyclists should be acutely aware of:

Road Debris

Roadways can become littered with debris, ranging from fallen branches and rocks to tire treads and even items falling off other vehicles. For a car, these might pose minimal risk, but hitting debris at speed on a motorcycle can cause loss of control or even a crash.


Animals crossing roads can be unpredictable. While larger animals like deer are a threat, particularly in rural areas, even smaller animals, like dogs or cats, darting across the street in urban settings can cause a motorcycle rider to swerve dangerously or brake abruptly, leading to accidents.

Slippery Surfaces

Wet roads, icy conditions, and even leaves or oil spills can significantly reduce your motorcycle’s traction, increasing the risk of slipping. Motorcyclists must be particularly cautious of such surfaces, especially when turning or braking.


Potholes can be more than just a nuisance for motorcycle riders—they can be downright dangerous. Hitting a deep pothole can damage motorcycles or throw riders off balance, potentially causing them to hit traffic or go off the road.

Gravel on Pavement

Gravel, especially when encountered on curves, can suddenly cause a motorcycle’s tires to lose grip. This hazard is particularly insidious because gravel patches can appear without warning, leaving little time for reaction.

Distracted and Inattentive Drivers

Other road users can be a hazard themselves, particularly those who are distracted or do not pay attention. Motorcyclists are smaller visual targets for drivers, who may not see them until too late. A driver’s sudden lane change or unnoticed stop can be disastrous for a motorcyclist.

Driver Awareness Is Essential

Driver awareness is a critical factor in improving the safety of motorcyclists on the road. Interestingly, it is not always collisions with other vehicles that lead to motorcycle accidents. In many cases, non-collision incidents, such as losing control due to road hazards or sudden stops, play a significant role in these accidents.

Therefore, it becomes crucial for motorcyclists to not only rely on drivers’ attentiveness but also to educate themselves about potential non-collision triggers. Understanding these triggers and being constantly aware of road hazards is essential, especially considering the increased vulnerability of motorcycles compared to larger vehicles. This knowledge can significantly enhance a motorcyclist’s ability to navigate the roads safely and avoid accidents.

Florida's “Share the Road” Campaign

In response to the alarming increase in motorcycle-related fatalities, the governor has launched an important safety initiative, the “Share the Road” campaign. This critical campaign is designed to educate drivers and significantly reduce traffic deaths. It emphasizes the essential need for both motorcyclists and vehicle drivers to master offensive and defensive driving techniques. The ultimate goal is to foster a safer coexistence on our roads by enhancing awareness and promoting mutual respect among all road users.

To support this mission, the campaign offers a comprehensive list of safety recommendations specifically for vehicle drivers. These include tips on maintaining a safe following distance, the importance of checking blind spots before changing lanes, and the necessity of using signals well in advance of making turns or lane changes. Additionally, the campaign stresses the significance of being especially vigilant at intersections and during adverse weather conditions when the risk of accidents increases substantially.

Driving Safety Tips

To support this mission, the campaign offers a comprehensive list of safety recommendations specifically for vehicle drivers. These include tips on maintaining a safe following distance, the importance of checking blind spots before changing lanes, and the necessity of using signals well in advance of making turns or lane changes. Additionally, the campaign stresses the significance of being especially vigilant at intersections and during adverse weather conditions when the risk of accidents increases substantially.

Tips for Motorcyclists

Tips for Motorists

Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident

You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident due to a road hazard. In situations where no other driver is at fault, the responsibility for preventable road hazards often falls to the local government or, if an obstructing object caused the accident, to whoever is responsible for that object’s presence.

Determining liability requires the lawyer to demonstrate negligence. For instance, if a pothole leads to an accident, the local government could be deemed negligent for failing to maintain the roads properly. Similarly, if an accident is caused by cargo that has fallen from a truck, the fault could lie with the trucking company, the driver, or a third-party contractor responsible for securing the cargo.

Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you’ve been impacted by a motorcycle accident in Jacksonville, FL, our team of skilled Jacksonville motorcycle accident attorneys is here to support you. We’re dedicated to helping you secure the compensation you’re entitled to for injuries resulting from a road hazard for which another party is liable. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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