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Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May: Stay Safe

Written by: Dale G Casares Portrait Dale Casares
Motorcyclist Driving

The arrival of May signals the onset of warmer weather in the U.S. The month of May is also Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Every year, thousands of motorcyclists suffer accidents. Some suffer serious injuries and property damage. Unfortunately, the number of motorcycle accidents in the U.S. continues to rise. Even a minor accident can be a serious concern for a motorcyclist as there is minimal protection for them in case of a fall or collision. The month-long initiative is a reminder of the need to prioritize safety for motorcyclists.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

We know that motorcycle accidents are dangerous. Stats show that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to suffer fatal crashes compared to motorists in other vehicles. With no vehicle frame, airbags, and seat belts to protect them, motorcycle riders are at high risk of suffering catastrophic injuries. Motorcycle collisions accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities. The majority of motorcycle accidents (76%) are collisions from the front, often hitting into much larger passenger cars.

Motorcyclist fatalities are only one piece of the puzzle. Beyond motorcyclists killed, the stats show that 83,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2021. The accidents happen throughout the year, however, the month of August is the most dangerous month for motorcyclists. A possible explanation for this stat is that warmer weather results in more motorcyclists on the road and that increases the overall probability of suffering an accident.

DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets and other protective gear can be effective in preventing fatalities. Motorcyclists can reduce the risk of fatalities by 37% by using helmets. There are 18 states where motorcycles are mandated by law to wear helmets.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

A major cause of motorcycle accidents is speeding. More than one-third of all motorcycle accidents have speeding as a major contributing factor. Even a slight increase in speed can be enough to make it significantly more challenging for the motorcyclist to perform an emergency maneuver to avoid a collision. Not only do they have less reaction time, the motorcycle moves more unstable at high speed. Even changing lanes can be a dangerous maneuver at high speeds.

It is very important to ride sober, meaning both alcohol and drug free. Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is alcohol, which can impair the motorcycle operating ability by slowing reaction times, impaired judgment, and negatively impacting coordination. Alcohol consumption can reduce inhibitions, increasing the risk of overspeeding and reckless operation of the motorcycle.

Motorcyclists who are distracted are more likely to suffer collisions. Anything that takes away focus from the road is considered a distraction. This includes sightseeing, daydreaming, or an overly involved conversation with the passenger. Driver fatigue is another major contributing factor in motorcycle accidents, especially in long rides. Fatigue can impact decision-making abilities and reduce reaction time. All motorcycles can get adequate rest before long rides.

Inclement weather also has a big impact on our nation’s highways. Safe driving often means riders of all skill levels should avoid riding in the rain.

Impact of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle crashes can have profound consequences for the motorcycle rider and their families. The first impact of the collision is the physical and mental trauma of the accident. The accident may result in severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. In more severe cases, they need emergency surgery. The psychological distress of the motorcyclist accident may cause the victim to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

The motorcyclist would have to bear the financial impact of the accident. While their insurance might provide protection, there might still be a need to pay out of pocket for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, property damages, and several other types of expenses. The motorcyclist can also suffer from loss of future earning capacity due to the accident.

Motorcyclist Safety Tips

The potential to suffer severe consequences from a motorcycle accident means that all riders must take extra precautions to keep themselves safe.

One of the most important things in rider safety is to ride defensively. This includes maintaining a safe speed on the road and not engaging in aggressive or reckless behavior such as swerving between lanes or tailgating. Obey traffic laws at all times. The laws are in place to keep road users safe. While you may feel some of the laws are overly cautious or strict, you must respect the laws for your safety and the safety of other road users.

Another important factor is to perform regular maintenance checks on the bike as any issues with the brakes, lights, fluid levels, or other crucial systems of the motorcycle can cause an accident. The top motorcycle manufacturers, such as Harley Davidson Motor Company, Kawasaki Motors Corp, and Yamaha Motor Corporation, recommend getting regular maintenance service for bikes.

Another way to increase safety is to stay visible on the road by avoiding riding in blind spots. Also, wear reflective clothing and make sure all motorcycle lights are in good working order.

As a motorcycle rider, you also need to be mindful of the weather conditions, so check the forecast before heading out. Adverse weather conditions can increase the chances of suffering a traffic crash. You can also consider taking defensive driving or rider training courses offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and other reliable providers.

Legal Considerations in Motorcycle Accidents

If you suffered a motorcycle accident that you believe was someone else’s fault, you have the right to seek compensation. However, one of the most challenging aspects of a motorcycle accident case is to establish liability. Liability is often complex in accidents that involve shared fault as in that case, the liability has to be defined in terms of contributory negligence. Some states use a comparative negligence system where each party is allocated their share of fault in the accident and their compensation is adjusted accordingly.

To claim damages for your suffering, you will have to initiate a motorcycle accident claim. Ideally, you want to negotiate with the opposing party so you can reach a quick resolution to the dispute and get full and fair compensation. However, if the issue can be settled out of court, you will have to take the case to trial, where a judge or jury will hear the case and render a verdict.

Each state has a maximum timeframe, known as the statute of limitations, to initiate legal action. Failing to file a lawsuit within the time frame defined by the statute of limitations can result in forfeiture of your right to seek compensatory damages. A lawyer specialized in motorcycle crashes can assess your case and guide you on whether you have the legal grounds to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party. To get expert legal counsel for motorcycle accidents, you are welcome to contact us at Mountain States Injury Law.

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