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Gainesville, Ocala & Daytona Beach, Florida

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Jeffrey Meldon
Jeffrey Meldon
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Are loud pipes protecting motorcycle riders?

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According to many riders in Daytona Beach for Bike Week, this week, they wouldn’t be caught dead on the road without their loud, modified, unbaffled straight pipes. They feel that it provides an added layer of protection against their “enemy” the car and truck driver who doesn’t see them and crashes into them causing death or serious injury. “If they don’t see us at least they will hear us”. Many riders believe they would have been killed or seriously injured had it not been for those loud pipes according to interviews conducted by the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

There is only one problem: it is against the law. Not only that, but most people dislike the sound of loud pipes roaring inside their brain. The maximum sound level by Florida law for a motorcycle traveling at 35mph at a distance of 50ft. is 78 decibels. By comparison, a blender generates 90 decibels from a distance of 3 feet. The ear piercing sound of a Harley with modified straight pipes can far exceed the lawful decibel level.

During bike week most bikers get a free pass on noise ordinance violations but more and more neighborhoods are banding together to reduce unwanted sounds. In fact, the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) regards excessive sound from the exhaust as the single greatest threat to motorcycling. Regardless of how “safe” loud pipes are for the rider the AMA has to protect the interests of the majority of law abiding motorcyclists around the country.

My advice, as a motorcycle accident attorney for 37 years, if you really want to protect yourself while riding, wear the recommended safety equipment (helmet, eye protection, leathers, proper footwear) and carry lots of insurance on your motorcycle policy. In Florida car and truck drivers have no requirement to carry mandatory bodily injury insurance so if you are in a crash caused by someone else you will probably have to pay all the bills yourself. And you will recover nothing for your lost wages and pain and suffering. The only way to fully protect yourself is to buy lots of motorcycle insurance with at least 50k in medical payments coverage and 100k in uninsured motorists coverage. This is minimal coverage and higher limits should be considered particularly for uninsured motorists’ insurance.