Did you know that May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month? A holiday worth celebrating, it highlights the importance of motorcycle safety while driving on the road. These tips are especially important for Florida motorcyclists and drivers since Florida (in some cases) does not require helmets.

Here are some safety tips and facts about motorcycles riders and drivers:

***Let’s start with Florida’s ever-controversial no-helmet law. A Florida motorcycle insurance policy is required and should cover a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits should the rider become injured. However, all riders are still required to wear some sort of eye protection. If you have a side-car your rider or “passenger” in an enclosed sidecar they are not required to wear a helmet or eye protection.

That being said, you should wear a helmet since you can’t really control what someone else will do on the road such as making a turn without checking twice for a motorcycle. And skipping eye protection means the wind will lead to a flood of tears from your eyes.

***Speaking of Florida motorcycle insurance, it’s worth every penny to take a motorcycle driving safety class. It not only covers basics, but it’s usually done with a professional in an area such as a parking lot AND comes with a lower insurance policy for most insurance carriers.

***Wearing the right clothing while riding your hog may seem like a burden especially in The Sunshine State where temperatures make heavier leather clothing unbearable. However, those leather duds, gloves and long pants help protect you from road rash and from turning your skin into hamburger meat. Your skin wasn’t designed to handle speed and smacking into the pavement or ground.

***Start with a safer motorcycle or one you can actually handle. That’s right, there is such a thing as too much power. Remember that motorcycle safety class? You will want to choose a bike that fits your height. If your feet are not able to touch the ground and a breeze to jump on and off of the center stand, then it’s not the right fit for you. If you plan on hitting the open road, opt for a 500-750-cc range so that you can ride with the flow of traffic. If you just want a bike for commuting then experts recommend a 250-300 cc engine size.

***Ride on the defense. We mentioned earlier that many cars don’t or won’t see a motorcyclist and you should always assume that they don’t see you rather than assume that they did or worse, SHOULD. Regardless of whether the driver of a vehicle is at fault, you still don’t want to get into an accident.

***Mind the weather. Florida gets plenty of thunderstorms, especially during the summer months. If you happen to be riding and it starts raining (ugh) keep in mind that the roads are slickest during the first drizzles due to the oil on the roads. Be aware of this and slow down and take your time.

***Add antilock brakes to your motorcycle. Most newer models of motorcycles come with anti-lock brakes but if your bike doesn’t or is an older model you will want to pop for them for two very big reasons. The first is that you have a 37 percent chance of not being involved in a fatal crash than motorcycles that don’t have them, according to IIHS data. Additionally, you could be eligible for a motorcycle insurance policy discount.

These basic tips are not just for your safety but for the safety of your passengers and those on the road around you. Be safe and happy motorcycle season!