Most motorcyclists avoid riding in the rain when possible. But unfortunately, weather is unpredictable. After all, even the best meteorologists are only right most of the time. From drizzles to severe thunderstorms, rainy weather presents a hazard for bikers. Knowing and understanding how roads are affected by rainy precipitation allows you to take precautions and protect yourself.
Wet, rainy weather conditions produce dangerous road surfaces. During typical, dry conditions, oil and dirt accumulates on the road surface. If you examine asphalt closely, you will see that it is not completely smooth. It’s actually a rather rough surface, with millions of crannies. This helps your tires maintain traction and is a great thing. But it allows dirt, grime, and oil to build up.
When wet weather strikes, be wary of wet roads and increased braking distance. Wet conditions result in slippery roads, especially when the rain first starts. Motorcycle tires generally have sufficient traction, but stopping distance will increase. Riding in the wet is not comfortable, but it need not be unsafe.
Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain
- Be extra cautious during the first few minutes of rainy conditions. Imagine you are traveling on a highway and it starts to drizzle. The crannies in the asphalt begin to fill with rainwater. The water mixes with the dirt and oil and creates a greasy, slick surface. This slippery substance begins to spread over the surface of the road. As you ride, you will begin to notice that the road feels slick beneath you and that you are losing traction. During the first few minutes of a rain storm, you must be incredibly cautious. Road conditions can be treacherous.
- Ride in the dry area. When riding in the rain, align your bike with the dry areas of the road. The vehicle in front of you will displace water and leave a dry area on the pavement from their tread. Riding in this area will allow you to maneuver your bike easily and will give you increased traction.
- Watch for puddles, potholes, and divots. Puddles and potholes can be especially dangerous in the rain. What may appear to be a shallow pothole or a small puddle may actually mask a deeper hole that can cause you to lose control of your motorcycle and can even lead to a crash. Keep an eye on the road ahead of you and avoid any areas that look suspect.
- Exercise caution in intersections. We know that, statistically, most motorcycle crashes happen in or near intersections. But when you are riding in the rain, you face even greater risks. Drivers around you may have an even more difficult time seeing you. In overcast, cloudy conditions, with the rain coming down, your motorcycle headlight may just appear as a streetlight to a driver. Or it may be obscured altogether.
- Use anti-fogging wipes or spray so you can see clearly. Motorcycle helmets and visors fog up quickly in rainy conditions. Also, raindrops on your visor can obscure your ability to see. Anti-fogging wipes and sprays help prevent your visor from fogging up. They can also help clear away rain so that you can see better. If you find your visor is fogging up, the only safe thing to do is to pull over and address it right away. Do not assume that you can see “well enough.” It’s not worth taking a chance with your safety and the safety of others.
Few bikers want a rainy ride, but sometimes it is inevitable. But a rainy ride does not need to be unsafe. Exercise caution and, if you feel uncomfortable at any time, pull over and wait for the foul weather to pass.
As motorcycle crash lawyers, we see what happens when motorcycle accidents occur. Injuries are often severe. Sometimes these crashes are unavoidable. But other times simply exercising some extra caution would have prevented the accident.
If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash, call us at 1-800-MOTORCYCLE and learn how we can help you. Remember that your initial phone call and consultation is free, so there is nothing to lose.