Motorcycle Safety in South Florida

Motorcycling and Alcohol

by Leslie Drury

Motorcycle Safety in South Florida These days it seems like every bar in town has a bike night. You could probably attend one every night if you wanted to. There is really nothing like a warm Florida evening and a ride to the local tavern for music, good friends, and cold beer. The problem begins when you have to ride home. Once alcohol mixes with your blood, there is only one way for it to leave. You must wait. How long? What is the guideline? There is no set of instructions on the bottle, or the glass the beverage was served in. However somehow we are supposed to know how to get home safely after consuming a substance that is known to impair your judgment.

According to Non Profit Corporation):

It Gets in your Blood:

  • BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). When you drink alcohol, it gets passed directly into your bloodstream.
  • BAC can be measured reliably and accurately. Effects on skills related to driving are very well documented.
  • Most of the planet is in agreement that driving with a BAC of .08 is too dangerous to allow.
  • This is why laws everywhere are written with .08 being the point of legal intoxication
  • At a .08 you experience sedation, slow reaction time, and poor coordination. It’s obvious why driving with a .08 is illegal.
  • At lower levels, sedation and slow reaction time are still factors. It’s obvious why driving with lower BAC levels is still dangerous.

There is only one way down:

  • A common guideline is that after each typical drink, you must wait 45 minutes before attempting to drive.
  • If you have another drink, you must add another 45 minutes.
  • You’ve had a drink and must wait 45 minutes before driving. A quarter hour later, you have another drink.  Now you must wait 45 minutes PLUS the 30 minutes left over from the first drink.  That’s one and a quarter hours before you should drive.

Ladies Night:

  • Because men and women are built differently, women reach a higher BAC drink after drink than men.
  • More of the alcohol a woman drinks enters her bloodstream
  • The first drink or two are not drastically different and the 45 minute rule should be OK.
  • If you are having the equivalent of 3 or more drinks, you should add another hour to your wait.

As riders, we are at risk each time we take to the highways and roads. Drivers are texting, distracted, and here in South Florida we are exposed to aging drivers that no longer have the reaction time they once did. One factor that is within our control is the consumption of adult beverages. Statistics speak for themselves and posted the following numbers regarding alcohol and motorcycle fatalities.

  • 27% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2005 involved alcohol.
  • 20% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2006 involved alcohol.
  • 41% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2008 involved alcohol.
  • 37% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2009 involved alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Center for Statistics and Analysis:

  • In Florida in 2009 impaired motorcyclists with a BAC of .08 or higher accounted for 31% of motorcycle fatalities, while impaired motorcyclists with a BAC of .01 or greater accounted for 37% of motorcycle fatalities.
  • Nationally, in fatal crashes in 2008 a higher percentage of motorcycle riders had BAC of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dl) or higher than any other type of motor vehicle driver. The percentages for vehicle riders involved in fatal crashes were 28% for motorcycles, 23 % for passenger cars, 23 % for light trucks, and 2 % for large trucks.
  • In 2010, the percentage with BAC .08 g/dl or above was highest for fatally injured motorcycle riders among the 21 – 24 (30%) age group.

The statistics go on and on. Not only do you risk injury, you risk your driver’s license, a night in jail, and your insurance premiums will skyrocket. There may be special filings required to satisfy the state after a DUI requiring you to carry higher limits. The ticket will also be picked up by your auto insurance as well. It is our responsibility to get home safely. Included in this article is a basic formula for the amount of time to wait before you ride after imbibing. As mentioned previously in this article we are already dealing with avoiding and out-maneuvering distracted and aging drivers. Doing this after consuming alcohol will not work to our favor. Waiting around that extra time isn’t such a bad thing. Have that ice cold beer upon arrival and enjoy it. Spend your wait time checking out bikes, comparing upgrades, chatting with old friends and making new ones. You can leave knowing you have done your part to get home safely.