Nothing is as exhilarating as flying along on the back of a horse or a motorcycle. These methods of riding just scream freedom and fun. A horse, however, doesn’t cause traffic accidents. They are higher than most passenger cars and so are easier to see. A motorcycle, on the other hand, is smaller than most vehicles which make them harder to see in time to avoid a crash. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. We’ve compiled information you should know in order to ride your bike safely.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Since motorcyclists are smaller than the average vehicle, motorcycle accidents occur when:
- A car strikes a motorcycle head-on. These accidents are 78 percent of motorcycle mishaps which are often fatal to the cyclist.
- A car is making a left turn. These crashes happen 48 percent of the time. While this happens frequently with cars, motorcyclists are smaller and harder to see. Other traffic no-nos are passing in the same lane, speeding up to pass a car and proceeding through an intersection.
- Weather hazards are doubly trouble for cyclists. Wet or oily pavement is the least of a cyclist’s worries. Objects in the road such as dead animals or someone’s sneaker thrown out a car window, for example vie with potholes and uneven pavement for a cyclist’s attention.
- Cars sometimes come out of alignment, causing the vehicle to shake, rattle and roll until the driver gets the wheels aligned. It’s worse for a motorcycle. Called a wobble, it happens at high speeds and could cause an accident. The manufacturer should be made aware of the wobble, for he could be liable.
Results of Motorcycle Crashes
The Insurance Information Institute or III regularly reports statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA. Two thousand fourteen is the most recent year reported for motorcycle crash data:
- In that year, 4,586 people died from motorcycle crashes, down slightly from the 2013 4,692 crashes by 2.3 percent
- In that year, 39 percent of those deaths were from not wearing a helmet, down 41 percent from 2013
- In that year, 92,000 were injured, up from 88,000 in 2013 by 4.5 percent
- Twenty-nine percent of cyclists died due to having been drinking
- In 2013, speeding caused 34 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes
- When bikers had been drinking, helmet use was 46 percent in 2013 as opposed to the 66 percent who had not been drinking
- Night accidents on motorcycles claimed more fatalities than day accidents when the cyclist had been drinking
These statistics were taken from comparisons per each 100,000 registered motorcycle drivers.
Liability in Motorcycle Accidents
In Minnesota, generally, the driver of a car or truck is responsible for most motorcycle accidents. If the bike operator is not speeding, not on a wet or slick road and not drinking, wearing his helmet and fully versed in the operation of his vehicle, then an accident usually means the car driver is at fault. The cyclist should be aware of how much insurance he carries; uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage can mean the difference between any injuries being covered and not having enough money to pay the hospital.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
One. Make sure the bike is one you can handle. It would be a shame to be injured or die due to the bike being more than you can safely handle.
Two. Antilock brakes save lives. Get it.
Three. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers courses from free up to $350. Keep your skills sharp and current, and you might not end up injured or dead.
Four. A helmet that covers the whole head with a visor for face protection is often what stands between you and a fatality. They wear out, though, due to incredible wind and sun fatigue. Have yours checked regularly.
Five. Full leathers protect your body. Get them. In summer, breathable materials of mesh help keep you from getting scraped up in an accident.
Even though May is Motorcycle Safety Month, many cyclists aren’t aware of their rights in an accident. We hope this clarifies things for you, but if you are in a motorcycle accident and don’t know what to do next, contact us. We’ll take care of you.
Please read our disclaimer regarding attorney-client relationship.