As summer approaches, the increasingly warm weather will call motorcyclists back out onto the roads in Illinois and Missouri. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 4,295 motorcyclist deaths in 2014, and historically the highest number of accidents occurs from May to September each year. As motorcycle owners and operators prepare their bikes to head back out for another warm-weather season, they should take care to ensure their ride will go as safely as smoothly as possible. Experts encourage motorcycle operators to take safety courses, inspect their bikes, and wear safety gear, including a Department of Transportation approved helmet. Additionally, one of the most important ways to prepare for significant time spent on a motorcycle is to learn to recognize possible roadway dangers and how to avoid them. Here, we share some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents and what can be done to mitigate the danger and stay safe on the road.
Motorcyclists Suffer More Serious Consequences in Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries in a crash than those who travel in other vehicles. Motorcycles, by their very design, leave riders more exposed and vulnerable. So, when motorcycles are involved in accidents with other vehicles, it is often the motorcyclist who suffers the most severe injuries.
Additionally, motorcyclists are more often involved in crashes with fixed objects. Motorcycles are high-performance machines, and, without proper training and caution, can easily run out of control and seriously injure or kill the operator.
Finally, men are at the highest risk to be injured or killed on a motorcycle. The IIHS reports that of all the motorcycle fatalities in 2014, a staggering 92 percent were male.
Common Causes of Dangerous Motorcycle Crashes
There are many different road and traffic situations that can lead to a motorcycle crash. Here, we discuss five of the most common and how to avoid them this motorcycle season. Some of these dangerous situations include:
Car fails to yield. Many times, a passenger car driver disregards the rules of right of way or simply doesn’t see an oncoming motorcycle when making a left-hand turn. The NHTSA states that of all the fatal crashes that occurred in 2013, 42 percent involved a car turning left into a motorcycle.
Patches of gravel, mud, or sand in the road. When the front tire of a motorcycle hits a patch of road filled with gravel or sand, it can cause the bike to crash. To avoid this situation, drive at an appropriate speed to ensure you have to time to stop or drive around the road hazards. This is especially true on curvy roads where visibility is not as great.
Car changes lanes into your bike. Obviously, motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles on the road. A motorcycle can easily get lost in another driver’s blind spot, leading that driver to change lanes even when a motorcycle is occupying the space. Be a proactive motorcyclist to avoid these situations. Stay out of other vehicle’s blind spots as much as possible. A good rule of thumb is if you can see the other driver’s face in his side mirror, he can also see you.
Group riding gone wrong. While group riding does help increase visibility and is enjoyable for many riders, group riders must exercise caution and restraint. If a member of the group attempts to drive faster or slower, change lane position, or pursue a different route without clear communication, it can have serious consequences. Make sure everyone who wants to participate is willing to follow group ride etiquette and be mindful of the safety of everyone.
Alcohol. Drinking and driving is a top cause of deadly motorcycle accidents. An IIHS report states that 30 percent of all motorcycle accidents in 2014 were alcohol-related, and that figure jumps up to 55 percent for nighttime accidents. Alcohol impairs judgment, decreases reaction time, and clouds focus. Don’t drink and drive.
For the thousands of motorcyclists who will enjoy the freedom and fresh air of the roads in Illinois and Missouri this year, the dangers are real. Some simple care, however, can prevent dangerous crashes and make the roads safer for everyone who travels.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to make a claim. Call the experienced lawyers at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm today at (217) 394-5885 to discuss your unique case and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.