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Tips for Riding Your Motorcycle in the Winter

Biker rides on winter slippery road. First-person view.

The official start of Winter is still a few days away, but temperatures are already dropping below freezing here in West Virginia (no surprise). Chilly breezes and wet weather pose a dilemma for many motorcycle enthusiasts: to ride or not to ride. Winter presents unique challenges for riders, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can enjoy your motorcycle even during the colder months. Below, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson offer valuable tips to help ensure your safety and enjoyment while riding in winter. Despite your best efforts to stay safe, if you do wind up in a wreck because of someone else’s negligence, our Martinsburg motorcycle accident attorneys will be here to help you get justice and compensation.

Understanding Winter Riding Risks in West Virginia

Winter riding in West Virginia comes with a set of risks bikers don’t experience as much during other periods of the year. Slippery roads, decreased visibility, and colder temperatures can significantly impact your riding experience. Recognizing these risks is the first step toward preparing for a safer ride. Knowing what you’ll face enables you to take specific steps to get ready.

1. Prepare Your Motorcycle

  • Winter Maintenance: Ensure your motorcycle is in prime condition. Check the battery, brakes, and tire tread depth. Winter tires or all-season tires are recommended for better traction.
  • Anti-Freeze Levels: Verify that your motorcycle has adequate anti-freeze levels to prevent engine freezing.
  • Visibility Enhancements: Consider adding reflective tape or additional lights to increase visibility in foggy or snowy conditions.

2. Dress Appropriately

  • Layered Clothing: Wear multiple layers to retain body heat, starting with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry.
  • Protective Gear: Use a DOT-approved helmet with a fog-resistant visor. Don’t forget waterproof gloves and insulated boots for extra warmth and protection.

3. Adjust Your Riding Style

  • Reduced Speed: Travel at a slower speed to account for decreased tire traction.
  • Increased Following Distance: Keep a greater distance from other vehicles to allow more time for stopping.
  • Smooth Maneuvers: Avoid sudden brakes or sharp turns that could lead to skidding.

4. Be Weather-Aware

  • Check Forecasts: Always check the weather forecast before heading out. Avoid riding during snowstorms or icy conditions.
  • Plan Your Route: Choose roads that are more likely to be cleared of snow and ice.

5. Know When to Stay Off the Road

Sometimes, the best decision is not to ride. In extreme weather conditions, like heavy snowfall or ice storms, it is safer to leave your motorcycle at home.

Legal Considerations for Winter Riders

The tips above may be helpful, but all the care in the world can’t always keep you safe from another negligent driver, and when roads and weather are bad, a drunk, distracted or speeding driver is even more dangerous than at other times of the year. As personal injury attorneys in Martinsburg, WV, we understand the legal complexities that can arise from motorcycle accidents, especially in winter. West Virginia law requires motorcyclists to exercise due care, which becomes even more critical during winter months. Even if another driver causes the crash, if they can show you were partly to blame, it reduces the amount you can recover, and you can’t recover at all if you are found to be 50% or more at fault. Defensive riding is important not just to keep you safe but also to make sure you recover the maximum amount of compensation if hit by a negligent driver.

Ensure your insurance policy is up-to-date and understand what it covers, especially in winter accidents. In case of an accident, seek medical attention immediately, document the scene, and contact a personal injury attorney.

How Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson Can Help

At Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson, our team is committed to supporting the motorcycle community in Martinsburg and throughout West Virginia. If you ever find yourself in a situation resulting from a winter riding accident, our attorneys have the expertise to assist you. We understand the specific challenges that motorcyclists face and are dedicated to providing exceptional legal support.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motorcycle accident in West Virginia, call Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson at 304-263-0900 or 800-903-0901 for a free consultation with our skilled and experienced Martinsburg motorcycle accident lawyers.

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