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Madeira Man Loses Leg in Motorcycle Crash

On May 6, 2013, Donald Budd Sutton of Madeira Beach crashed his 1993 Harley Davidson in the Bay Pines area of St. Petersburg. Sutton was driving his motorcycle down Duhme Causeway, attempting to turn onto the Bay Pines Boulevard triangle interchange. As he attempted to enter the median and negotiate his turn, Sutton lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into a metal guardrail, severing his leg. After losing his leg to the guardrail, Sutton was thrown from his bike and landed in the road where he injured his head. He was not wearing a helmet and was air-lifted to Bayfront Medical Center for treatment of his life-threatening injuries. Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, but have stated that neither speeding or alcohol appear to have been factors in the motorcycle crash.

While motorcycles themselves are not necessarily any more or less dangerous than other vehicles, they provide little to no protection to the rider if an accident should occur. Therefore in addition to always wearing the proper motorcycle safety gear, bikers should be aware of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents and fatalities. Because not every accident is preventable, the best defense is to be aware of the dangers on the road and to plan a course of action for dealing with these dangers in the event of a crash.

As we’ve mentioned before, cars cause most of the collisions between motorcycles and automobiles. Of those collisions, the most common type is a motorcycle rear-ending a vehicle directly in front of them. We’ve all had that heart pounding experience in traffic when the vehicle in front of you suddenly slams on brakes. All we can do then is hit the brakes and hope we stop in time. This danger is no different for motorcyclists. The difference is that when a rider is forced into a hard brake situation, the likelihood of losing control of the motorcycle increases, and the likelihood of stopping properly decreases. Another big difference is that when motor vehicle operators are not able to come to a complete stop the end result can be just a small fender-bender, resulting in no injuries to either driver. For the motorcyclist however, there is really no such thing as a minor fender-bender. When the biker runs into the back of an automobile, he/she can be thrown from the bike into the rear of the car, or even over the car and onto the road ahead. These rear-end collisions account for roughly 56% of motorcycle crash fatalities.

Another common scenario between motorcycles and cars occurs when the car attempts to turn left in front of the motorcycle. Because motorcycles are much smaller than automobiles they can be difficult to see, especially in areas of high traffic or in times of low visibility due to rain or high glare (think 5:00 sunshine). Car drivers who do not give a second glance in the direction of oncoming traffic before committing to the left turn may a rapidly approaching motorcyclist they did not see the first time. This type of automobile-motorcycle collision accounts for about 42% of all motorcycle crashes, and is precisely the reason for the launch of the “Look Twice, Save a Life” campaign.

Even when no other vehicles are involved, road hazards still present a significant risk to motorcyclists. Road hazards can be anything from potholes and loose gravel to uneven lanes or animals in the road. While these hazards present risks to all drivers, they are particularly dangerous to motorcyclists because motorcycles offer far less protection to the rider who is forced to take a quick evasive action. It is because of these dangers that motorcyclists should always follow the speed limit. The risk of injury associated with losing control of the motorcycle is greater with every additional mile per hour travelled. If the rider has also been drinking alcohol before getting onto the motorcycle, the combination of these factors can be deadly. In fact, almost half of the single-rider motorcycle fatalities in the United States results from the combination of drinking and speeding. So what is the best way to avoid a motorcycle fatality? Never drink and ride and always wear your helmet!

For more information on motorcycle safety, or if you or someone you know has been involved in a St. Petersburg motorcycle accident, please contact the experienced motorcycle injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation and case evaluation. 727-451-6900