Motorcycle popularity has increased in recent years and is expected to continue. In 2011 there were 8,410,255 registered motorcycles in the United States. That accounts for only 3% of registered vehicles. However motorcycles accounted for 14% of all motor vehicle accidents and 5% of fatalities.
Bikers need to be aware of the inherent dangers of riding. Knowing the statistics and the common causes for accidents should increase rider safety awareness.
There were a record number of fatalities 2004 totaling 4008. That was 69.33 fatalities for every 100,000 bikes on the road. The greatest number of motorcycle accidents are caused by unawareness of the motorcycle by other drivers due to their small size making them less visible. Congested roadways, hazardous or poorly maintained road conditions, operator negligence, negligence of other drivers, speed, carelessness and alcohol are other contributing factors. The amount of motorcycle accidents involving two or more vehicles account for 55 percent while the other 45 percent involve the motorcycle only.
Being aware of the common causes of motorcycle accidents is the best way for a rider to avoid becoming involved in a crash. A motorcycle rider should always assume that, even with an illuminated headlamp and wearing bright clothing, the other drivers do not see him. He must also be aware of road surfaces and conditions and adjust driving accordingly.
Some of the most common contributing factors in motorcycle crashes include:
- Speed – Speed was a contributing factor in 36 percent of all motor cycle crashes in 2007. Sport bike riders who operate bikes that can reach speeds nearing 200 mph, have a four times greater fatality rate than the riders of cruisers. Loss of control at excessive speeds is easy and can be caused by a patch of gravel, a pothole, raised manhole cover or a sudden evasive maneuver. Observing speed limits greatly reduces the chance of a crash.
- Other Drivers Negligence – In today’s world of distracted drivers it has become more likely for a driver of another vehicle to not see a motorcycle when making a left turn or changing lanes. A driver who causes an accident while talking on a phone, texting, reading, eating, drinking or reading a GPS map, may be found negligent and held responsible for the crash.
- Hazardous or Poorly Maintained Roads – Wet roads, potholes, slippery road surfaces, loose gravel, sharp turns, pedestrians, animals, blind spots and driveways as well as construction sites are all potentially hazardous to bikers. Road hazards such as construction, dangerous curves, blind driveways and corners and soft or loose surfaces should be clearly marked. If not, the highway management may be held accountable for a motorcycle accident.
Poor weather conditions like rain and fog not only cause slippery conditions, but they reduce the visibility of both the rider and other drivers. Extreme caution should be exercised during times of bad weather. Even wet leaves on the pavement can cause a biker to go down.
- Alcohol and Drugs – in 2007 alcohol was responsible for 36 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents. 28 percent of those drivers had a BAC of .08 percent, the legal limit in Florida and many other states. Drinking and driving shows disregard for the safety of one’s self and others and is unacceptable. Even taking certain prescription drugs can impair driving ability. It is also important to be aware that other drivers may have been drinking and to watch for signs like driving erratically and steer clear of those drivers.
Distracted driving contributes to motorcycle accidents as well. Not just cell phone use or texting, but also eating, adjusting a GPS or iPod, or talking with a passenger, can cause a motorist to neglect to see a motorcycle. The smaller profile of a motorcycle makes it harder to see to begin with, and a distracted driver may be even less likely to see a motorcycle in their path. The NHTSA estimates that approximately 42% of motorcycle-car accidents involve a car that makes a left-hand turn into the path of a motorcyclist who may be continuing straight or passing the car.
While rainy weather can’t be expected to last forever and keep the motorcycle fatality rate low, there is much that can be done to improve the safety of motorcyclists, much of it having to do with educating both motorcyclists and passenger car drivers. Although Florida requires motorcycle helmets only for riders 20 and under, the U.S. Government Accounting Office concluded that “laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets are the only strategy proven to be effective in reducing fatalities.” While wearing a helmet won’t prevent an accident, it can make a dramatic difference in the survival rate.
Education of motorcycle riders can also raise awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence and speeding. In Florida, motorcycle riders of all ages are required to complete a comprehensive rider training course before receiving a special endorsement for their driver’s license. The state-approved course teaches motorcyclists safe riding techniques as well as how to select protective gear and ride responsibly and courteously. The NHTSA also sponsors “Share the Road with Motorcycles” and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month each May to remind drivers to be on the alert at all times for motorcycles.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, seek medical attention immediately if none is offered at the scene. If paramedics are present, always accept treatment as it will help to validate any injury claim that you may have. Never speak to an agent from another driver’s insurance company or sign anything. Their interest is in keeping the claim low and they have a great deal of experience in doing so. Call an attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents as soon as possible.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney will evaluate your case, investigate the accident and review all information from the crash. The attorney will help you to obtain the compensation that you deserve for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and property damage.
Dolman Law Group has years of experience representing victims of motorcycle accidents, winning large cash settlements in many cases. If you, or a loved one, were injured, call today for a free consultation. There is no cost to you until we win. Dial our direct line at 727-451-6900 or click here to fill out our online contact form.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765