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Safety tips for group motorcycle riding

Bike week rolls on for the 76th year in a row in Daytona Beach, as bikers from all over gather. There's a little bit of a shadow, however, over this year's event -- a new study names Florida as the nation's deadliest state for motorcyclists.

The study also has a few other pieces of bad news for bikers: While motorcyclists registered in the state only rose 3 percent between 2014 and 2015, deaths climbed 30 percent. Overall, only about 3 percent of registered vehicles in Florida are motorcycles, but bikers are involved in 20 percent of the state's vehicle fatalities.

What can you do to stay safer this year during Bike Week? If, like many others, you've come with a group, keep in mind a few basic tips:

-- Talk it out before you start riding. Plan out how far you're going before you stop, what signal to give if you need to make an unplanned stop and what to do if someone gets separated from the group.

-- Make the two strongest riders your lead and your sweep. The lead rider sets the pace and can signal a warning for the group and the sweep, or last rider, keeps an eye out for the weaker, less-experienced riders and can spot one that's starting to have trouble.

-- Stagger your riding formation. That helps keep your group close enough that you (hopefully) don't have vehicles trying to cut in between you but still gives you room to quickly maneuver if one does.

-- Wear a helmet. While it's legal in Florida to skip it, modern helmets really do protect your head. One of the top three causes of motorcycle deaths is not wearing a helmet and may account for about 40 percent of deaths.

-- Don't speed. Speeding is another frequent cause of fatal crashes. Keep in mind that there's a lot of bigger vehicles on the road as well and they may make a sudden stop or swerve into your lane at any time. If you're going too fast, you won't be able to avoid a crash.

-- Don't drink and drive. It's easy to get carried away with all that beer that's flowing during Bike Week.

If you are in an accident while in Daytona and it's not your fault, consider talking to an attorney about the possibility of a lawsuit to recover for your injuries.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Bad news for Bike Week: Florida leads nation in motorcycle deaths," Christal Hayes, March 13, 2017

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