Last week, as I was on my way to a birthday party here in South Florida, I heard something I didn’t expect to hear on my drive. It started out faint, but as the sound grew louder, I was able to slowly identify and make out the curious noise.
I glanced over my shoulder and saw it: a motorcyclist weaving his way through traffic, his boombox perched carefully on his lap. And emanating from those speakers was the familiar synth-pop sound of Phil Collins belting out “In the Air Tonight.”
Hold on, hold onnnn…
Honestly, it didn’t offend me. I actually kinda love Phil Collins. I can see how it would’ve bothered other motorists, though, especially those who don’t appreciate good music. The part that bothered me was that the moment the light turned green, the rider took off, never to be seen again – before it cut to the famous drum solo!
What! The outrage!
It was like having an itch deep inside my brain that I couldn’t scratch. Since I was riding shotgun in the car, I quickly pulled up my phone and queued up the song on my music app. Sweet relief! And yes, I did play the air drums with my hands as I thrashed my hair in time to the beat. It’s the best part!
What’s the Point of All This?
South Florida has some funny laws. For some ridiculous reason, you don’t have to wear a helmet when you’re riding your motorcycle. You’re more than welcome to chat on your cellphone while driving, too. But don’t get caught texting! That’ll get you cited.
That said, the state is pretty strict about its headphone laws. If you’re operating a motor vehicle in the state of Florida, you are not allowed to wear headphones while driving. There are a few exceptions to this law, of course. Law enforcement officers get a pass. And if you’re using a Bluetooth speaker to chat on the phone, you can have just one earbud in (as long as the other one is free to listen to any traffic sounds).
So how’s a motorcyclist supposed to enjoy their jams while on the road?
Well…technically you’re not. If you ride, you’re at greater risk of injury if you were in a crash. In fact, you’re twenty-eight times more likely to sustain fatal injuries than passengers in a standard vehicle. To put it another way, motorcyclists account for 14 percent of all motor-vehicle deaths, despite being just 3 percent of traffic.
It’s a sobering statistic. For your best interest, you do not want to add an extra element of danger to your commute. Music can distract you, increasing your risk of a deadly traffic accident. You may not realize it, but if you’re nodding along and air-guitaring to your favorite monster ballad solos, you could be putting yourself in danger.
That said, listening to music on your ride is your right as an American. And by gum, if you’re gonna exercise that right, then I’m not going to be the one to stop you. But, if you’re going to listen to music while riding your motorcycle, you’ll want to do it safely.
Rather than propping your stereo in your lap, regaling other motorists with Wagner’s “Die Walküre” as you traverse the I-95, why not consider a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet? As long as it’s not covering your ears, you should be fine. You can also get a Bluetooth speaker to wear around your neck, and it can lovingly pipe music into your ears while you ride, if you prefer.
As a motorcyclist, you’re fully aware of the risks you take when you ride. You’re not an idiot. Life is full of calculated risks, and you’re not going to put yourself in needless danger when riding your motorcycle here in South Florida. Right?
Stay safe out there, friends. You may be a perfectly safe driver, but everyone else may not be as considerate as you are. Switching songs on your music app while driving isn’t worth your life, so don’t let a dud song on your phone be what spells out your demise, okay?
Of course, you also don’t want to be caught without your fort lauderdale motor vehicle tags, either. I have a feeling that the police won’t be as sympathetic toward you if you’re driving without them, even if you both share a mutual love of Phil Collins.