7 Safety Tips for Winter Motorcycling in Louisiana
While most of the nation slips, slides, and freezes during winters, the season is much milder in this part of the country. That’s a reason for motorcyclists to celebrate, but it’s still important to have smart motorcycle insurance coverage.
That’s not all. Here are seven tips that can make your seasonal rides safer. First, let’s set the scene.
Here’s What Winters Are Like in LA
If you’ve lived here all your life, you probably have a clear idea of what to expect during our winter months. On the other hand, if you’re a relative newcomer, you might picture spring-like temperatures for months on end.
The truth is, Louisiana, with daily highs most of the time in the 40s and 50s, can still get freezing rain, sleet, and even the occasional snowfall.
The point is, you don’t always know what to expect here, which gets us right to our first tip.
1. Check Weather Reports
Did you take in what we just wrote about snow, sleet, and freezing rain? Even your more common rain in Louisiana on a day with Fahrenheit temperatures in the 60s is no pleasure if you’re on a bike. It’s not only uncomfortable on a vehicle that’s a virtual permanent convertible, but it’s unsafe.
That highlights the importance of having a weather app on your phone and checking it often. Keep in mind how far away you are from home, and give yourself plenty of time to backtrack if conditions grow unexpectedly poor.
2. Dress for Whatever You’re Up Against
As you know if you’re an experienced biker, it’s always colder (certainly draftier) when you’re hitting 70 miles an hour exposed to the wind. That’s why, even in late spring and summer, certain days and evenings can feel colder than expected.
Winters, of course, are worse, even in balmy Louisiana. Dress for it. That can mean an insulated and weatherproof coat, warm gloves, and thick pants. An insulated helmet with vents you can partially close will also help you retain as much body heat as possible.
3. Exceed the 3-Second Rule
This informal rule of thumb says that you should, whenever possible, put three seconds between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you traveling in the same direction. To do so, count off “Mississippi one, Mississippi two, Mississippi three” before passing the same landmark as the vehicle in front of you.
The three-second rule is fine … when roads are clear and dry. If they’re slick with winter rain, ice, sleet, or snow, now the rule doubles … at minimum. Try to keep a six-second gap or more for ultimate safety on surfaces where braking might be a challenge and sudden swerves could lead to dumping your bike.
4. Gauge Your Tire Pressure
Cold weather makes tires softer, which makes your motorcycle less responsive. So make sure your tires are at the proper inflation before heading out.
5. Watch Out for Salty Roads
Salt is good. Road salt, we mean. It eliminates the snow and ice threat and makes roads less of a hazard for two-wheel and multi-wheel vehicles alike. However, undissolved salt granules can also reduce traction and play havoc with the tires of a motorcycle.
Proceed cautiously through dry clumps of salt (and even more cautiously if there’s no salt at all).
6. Forego That Epic Long-Distance Road Trip
Maybe you rode from New Orleans to Sturgis, South Dakota, last year for the famous motorcycle rally. Good for you, but that was in August. Certainly no threat of freezing temperatures, icy roads, or blizzard conditions halfway there.
7. Have Dependable Motorcycle Insurance
As is true in most U.S. states, motorcycle insurance is mandatory in Louisiana. You must show proof of insurance to register your bike.
However, only liability insurance is mandated. That’s also known as minimal coverage insurance. It protects other people and their property in the event of road accidents in which you’re legally found to be at fault. As for your own bike, you’re out of luck. All repair or replacement costs will come from your own pocket.
That’s also true if your bike is involved in a hit-and-run accident and the party at fault is never found or doesn’t have insurance. Same deal if your motorcycle is stolen or vandalized.
In other words, liability coverage is enough insurance to keep you street legal, but not a whole lot more. It’s worth having if you can’t afford more adequate coverage, but you’re better off with comprehensive and collision benefits if you can handle the cost.
Comprehensive and collision will pay for your covered damages if you’re at fault, plus it will protect your ride from theft and vandalism costs.
There are many ways to save money and keep your rates low, even with plans that have lots of coverage. Start by consulting with an independent motorcycle insurance agent. An independent broker has contracts with multiple insurers and can go shopping for the best coverage at the cheapest rates.
You can also increase your deductible to reduce premiums. Your deductible is the amount you agree to pay in the case of a claim. If your bike suffers $1,500 in damages, but you have a $500 deductible, you’ll pay that $500, and your insurer will pay the remaining $1,000 in covered damages.
If you raise your deductible to $1,000 or more, your monthly premiums will go down because your insurer will be responsible for a lower dollar amount if there’s a claim. Comparing the benefits of different types of coverage is a good conversation to have with your independent motorcycle insurance agent.