It was a sunny afternoon when you left to go out for an evening ride, but it didn’t take long for the clouds to gather. You were soaked to the bone by the time you made it back to town, but the worst was yet to come: your front wheel hit a puddle at the intersection of Gregory Boulevard and I-435. You hydroplaned through the light, lost control of the bike, and were struck by a passing car.
While you know you’re lucky to be alive, you’re not sure who is responsible for the accident. Could the other driver be liable for hitting you, or is it the city’s fault for allowing water to pool on the roadway?
Railroad Crossings and Manhole Covers Among Motorcycle Rain Crash Hazards
The roads you ride on every day are not the same in bad weather. They may become slick, flooded, or damaged after a rainstorm, leading you down a slippery slope to potential injury. As a result, city and county workers should attempt to remove debris and road hazards as soon as possible to help prevent crashes—but they often will not be dispatched while storms are still raging.
If you are caught in a storm on your motorcycle, take special care when traveling over the following road surfaces:
- Concrete. Even if you travel on primarily gravel roads, it only takes a short segment of sheer concrete to make your tires lose grip with the road. Take care when entering or exiting a parking lot and in the last few moments before turning into your drive, as water may still be running down the cemented driveways.
- Steel. This metal may be used sparingly on the road, but when it does appear it can be deadly. Manhole covers can become slick as glass in rainstorms, railroad tracks provide zero grip—especially when you turn across their surface—and wet gratings often cause front wheels to wobble.
- Painted lines. The lines painted on crosswalks or in turn lanes may be reflective, but the paint steals the grip provided by the asphalt.
- Railroad crossings. Even when a railroad crossing is empty, bikers still have to navigate across the rubber inserts on the approach to the track, and while they look textured, they provide very little traction.
- Puddles. Avoiding puddles in the rain won’t just keep you dry, it can help save your life. Puddles can hide any number of dangers, including fallen branches, potholes, and sludgy buildup that can stop your front tire in its tracks.
- Oil. The first rain after a number of clear days will lift dirt and oil from the road surface, making the first hour of a storm one of the slipperiest. Don’t be fooled by a light drizzle; keep your speed even and watch out for rainbows on the asphalt.
The best thing you can do when riding after the rain is to keep your bike slow and steady. Sit as straight on the bike as you can to maintain your balance and distribute your weight evenly and lean very slowly into the corners when you turn. Feel free to share these tips with the biker in your life on Facebook or via email; you never know whose life you may save with a single click!