Due to a motorcycle’s smaller size and increased agility, it’s extra important that motorcyclists do everything they can to ensure other drivers on the road are aware of their presence.
Some motorcyclists ride under the misconception that the more noise they make, the safer they will be while riding. However, motorcycles are intentionally designed to reduce the intensity of their engine noise. All motorcycles come equipped with exhaust systems that muffle the sound of an engine, and it’s illegal to mess with these parts of your bike.
According to Florida Statute 316.293(5)(a), “No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle or any other noise-abatement device of a motor vehicle operated or to be operated upon the highways of this state in such a manner that the noise emitted by the motor vehicle is above that emitted by the vehicle as originally manufactured.” It’s also illegal to ride a motorbike with altered noise abatement gear, even if you yourself didn’t make the modifications.
Back in 1979, Florida law reduced the legal decibel levels a motorcycle can generate by 4 dBA, lowering the maximum sound level to 78 dBA at speeds of 35 miles per hour or less, and to 82 dBA at speeds over 35 miles per hour. To give you a sense of context, normal human conversation is generally gauged at 70 dBA at its loudest, whereas prolonged exposure to sound levels over 85 dBA can result in hearing loss.
It may seem logical that if you’re making extremely loud noise on your motorcycle, you alert other drivers of your presence nearby, therefore making them less likely to hit you. However, engine racket gets projected directly behind your motorcycle, so it’s unlikely to prevent the most common accidents between motorbikes and cars, such as an oncoming driver suddenly turning into your path.
By increasing the noise output of your engine, you also increase your risk of suffering from noise fatigue (a safety issue we address in this article), which in turn increases your risk of crashing. Writers for Motorcycle Cruiser magazine have cited statistics that motorcycles with modified exhaust systems actually crash more often, perhaps due to the noise fatigue factor, or the riders’ lack of a safe attitude.
If you’ve kept up with our motorcycle blogging campaign, then you may already know and follow an alternative way to “be loud.” Endorsed by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Rider Training Program, the “Ride Proud, Dress Loud” statewide motorcycle conspicuity campaign encourages all riders to sport brightly colored clothing and helmets. Reflective patches and decals are especially effective visual cues for drivers during hazardous hours at dawn and dusk, when changing light conditions make a motorcyclist even harder to spot. The campaign also encourages riders to pick a bike with a flashy paint job or to enhance their ride with eye-catching bodywork. By promoting fun forms of self-expression, “Ride Proud, Dress Loud” also fosters a safer environment for all motor vehicle operators.
Join the fun: Show the world how you Ride Proud and Dress Loud by posting photos of you and your motorcycle to our Facebook page. While you’re there, check out the picture of our “Check Twice” t-shirts, which we recently provided to the ABATE of Florida‘s West Coast chapter.
If you have any questions or concerns about being injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to give the law offices of Wittmer | Linehan a call.