The increase in motorcycle popularity in the US. is expected to continue to rise. In 2011 there were 8,410,255 motorcycles registered nationwide accounting for 3% of registered vehicles. However, in California, motorcycle accidents accounted for 17% of all road fatalities. The LA Times reported on May 16, 2016, that the number of deaths from motorcycle crashes decreased by 7% in California in 2015 compared to a nationwide increase of 10% that same year. Despite that encouraging report, California has the second highest number of motorcycle fatalities in the country, trailing only Florida, a four-season, helmet optional state. The most disturbing fact, regarding motorcycle crashes, is that they are almost always preventable through driver awareness and caution.
Bikers should be aware of the inherent dangers of riding. The odds of becoming a crash fatality are 27 times greater than traveling in a passenger vehicle. Estimates show that there were over 5,000 motorcycle fatalities in 2015 in the U.S. That was the third straight year where the number of bikers killed surpassed the 5000 mark.
How to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents
The greatest number of motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers being unaware of the motorcycle, due to their small size making them less visible. Congested roadways, poorly maintained road conditions, operator negligence, negligence of other drivers, speed, carelessness and alcohol use, are all contributing factors. 55% of motorcycle accidents involve two of more vehicles where the remaining 45% involve only the motorcycle.
A motorcycle rider’s best way to avoid being involved in a crash is to be aware of the common causes and take precautionary steps to avoid them. The biker should always assume that the other drivers do not see him, despite his illuminated headlamp and bright clothing. He must be able to adjust his driving to the changes in road surfaces and conditions and be aware of any approaching hazards such as potholes, train tracks and pedestrians.
Some factors that commonly contribute to motorcycle accidents are:
· Speed – Speeding contributed to 36 percent of all motorcycle crashes in 2007. Sport bike riders, who ride bikes that can attain speeds in the 200-mph range, have a fatality rate of four times greater than the operators of cruisers, or touring bikes. Excessive speed can cause loss of control by a soft shoulder, patch of gravel, raised manhole, train tracks, metal bridge surface or a sudden evasive maneuver. The chances of a crash are reduced greatly by obeying the speed limit.
· Negligence of Other Drivers – Distracted driving has increased the likely chance of a driver not seeing a motorcycle when making a left turn or changing lanes. Drivers should use their blinkers too so it helps a motorcyclist predict traffic movement. A driver who is talking on the phone, texting reading, drinking, eating, reading a GPS or putting on makeup and causes an accident, may be found negligent and held responsible for any injuries incurred by the motorcycle rider.
· Poorly Maintained or Hazardous Roads – Potholes, wet roads, slippery road surfaces, loose gravel, sharp turns, blind spots, driveways, pedestrians and animals all pose potential hazards for motorcycles. Construction, dangerous curves, blind driveways and corners as well as soft, loose or uneven surfaces should be clearly marked. If highway management fails to mark known hazards, that agency could be held accountable for a motorcycle.
Poor weather conditions, such as rain and fog, reduce visibility and create slippery conditions, requiring extreme caution. Even a small patch of wet leaves can bring down a motorcycle on a curve.
· Drugs and Alcohol – Alcohol was responsible for 36 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes in 2007. Of those drivers, 28% had a BAC above .08 percent, the legal limit in California and all other states. Drinking in excess and driving shows total disregard for the safety of the public as well as one’s self. Driving under the influence of certain prescription drugs can also impair driving ability. Equally as important for one’s own safety, while riding a motorcycle, is to watch for signs of the impairment of other drivers, such as erratic driving, and avoid getting near them.
If You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Crash
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident be sure to seek medical attention. If paramedics are present at the scene, never refuse treatment. Not only is it best to ensure your well-being, but it will help to validate any injury claim that you may have. Never speak to an adjuster or agent from another driver’s insurance company or sign anything. The claims adjusters sole interest is not to look out for you, but to keep the claim as low as possible. The insurance adjusters have a great deal of experience in limiting payouts. You need to have an experienced motorcycle accident attorney on your side.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney, will conduct a thorough investigation into the facts leading up to the crash. The attorney will have independent medical experts as well as accident reconstruction specialists to support your case. The attorney will know the true value of your case and fight vehemently to obtain the compensation that you deserve for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damages and more. There will be no charge to you until you receive your award. Contact Vititoe Law Group today for a free case evaluation.