If you ride a motorcycle around Seattle, you need to know how to handle riding in the rain.
On average, the region gets 36 inches of rainfall per year. While that’s actually less than other major U.S. cities, such as New York, the difference is that the rain in Seattle comes down steadier and over a much longer period of time.
Riding in wet weather, however, can be done safely if riders follow some basic rules.
It starts with choosing the right rain gear. Don’t just go with a cheap poncho. Get a complete rain suit that will keep you dry and comfortable from head to toe. If you become wet, you could become distracted at a time when your focus should be entirely on the conditions around you.
Of course, you also need to have a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation standards set out in 49 CFR 571.218. A helmet meeting those standards will have a sticker on the back, and inside labeling indicating the manufacturer name, helmet model, size and other manufacturing information.
For purposes of riding in the rain, however, it’s a good idea to have a helmet that features at least a detachable face shield.
Tires also play an important role. Try to find tires that have a good tread pattern and check the condition of the tires on a regular basis.
If you get caught in a rain storm, the safest thing to do is to get off the road for a while. The reason is that roads are the most dangerous during that first 30-60 minutes of a storm. Oil, fuel, brake fluid and dirt rise to the road’s surface during a storm, creating slick riding conditions.
If you can’t avoid being on the road when it’s raining, at least ride slower than usual, keep your bike as vertical as possible at all times and avoid metal surfaces, such as metal grates on bridges. Also be careful around painted roadway markings, such as those you encounter at crosswalks because they can be especially slick when wet.
Often, motorcycle accidents that occur in the rain are not the fault of the person behind the handlebars.
For instance, if you lose control of your motorcycle because of a dangerous road condition, such as a pothole, the city or state agency responsible for maintaining that road could possibly be held liable for your damages.
Or, if there’s a defect in your motorcycle that caused the crash, you might be able to pursue recovery of damages from the manufacturer of the motorcycle or the defective part.
Far too many crashes are caused by other motorists who either fail to see motorcyclists on the road with them or fail to yield the right of way at an intersection.