Any fatal motorcycle accident is a tragic occurrence, and many are avoidable. With summer rapidly approaching, many of us cannot wait to pull that motorcycle out of storage and hit the road for some quality riding time. Unfortunately, the combination of speed, lack of visibility to other drivers, lack of protection, and poor riding practices make getting on that motorcycle a very dangerous endeavor. Many riders do all they can to be safe, but the philosophy of so many can be summed up by Hunter S. Thompson’s words: “Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”
The fact is that motorcycle accidents often lead to many serious injuries, including:
- Damage to the neck and back
- Multiple broken bones
- Arm and hand injuries
- Leg and foot injuries
- Extreme bruising or road rash
- Traumatic head injuries
It is important to remember that if the driver of an automobile negligently hits a motorcycle rider and these injuries occur, the at-fault driver is liable for the physical injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of income, disfigurement, loss of normal life, property damage, and any other loss related to the collision. Seeking a lawyer is advisable in these situations.
Furthermore, things are getting even more dangerous out there these days. More motorcyclists are hitting the road and they are driving up statistics on motorcycle deaths. A recent CDC study has found that motorcycle injuries and fatalities have been on the rise since 2001:
- Motorcyclist death rates increased 55% from 2001 to 2008 (1.12 per 100,000 persons in 2001 to 1.74 per 100,000 persons in 2008).
- The number of non-fatal motorcyclist injuries that were treated in a U.S. emergency department (ED) also increased, from nearly 120,000 injuries in 2001 to about 175,000 in 2008.
- Between 2001 and 2008, more than 34,000 motorcyclists were killed and an estimated 1,222,000 persons were treated in an ED for a non-fatal motorcycle-related injury.
- The highest death and injury rates were among 20-24 year-olds, followed by 25-29 year-olds.
- More than half of all non-fatal injuries treated in EDs were to the leg/foot (30%) or head/neck (22%).
Avoiding a fatal motorcycle accident is possible. There are many ways to both stay on the road and enjoy your travels and experiences, while also decreasing your risk of getting into a deadly accident. When you ride your motorcycle, follow these tips to stay safe:
- Always wear a helmet: The NHTSA estimates that a helmet saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclists in 2008. Statistics on motorcycle deaths also show that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 823 lives could have been saved! In fact the NHTSA has found that helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41% for motorcycle passengers.
- Never ride your motorcycle after drinking: Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. In 2005, 1 in 3 motorcycle rider fatalities were related to alcohol. Additionally, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report finds an increasing number of motorcyclists aged 40-44 are dying in alcohol-related crashes. According to the CDC, the rate of older adults who have died in alcohol-related motorcycle crashes increased from 1.2 per 100,000 population in 1983 to 1.9 in 2003.
- Wear protective clothing that provides some level of injury protection: Bright colors or reflective materials can greatly increase the chances that other motorists will be able to see you see you, which can decrease your likelihood of being involved in a fatal motorcycle accident.
- Assume that you are invisible to other motorists and operate your motorcycle accordingly: Make sure that you are positioned to be seen. Ride in the portion of the lane where it is most likely that you will be seen by other motorists. Avoid tailgating and riding between lanes. Avoid a vehicle’s blind spot and use your headlights, day and night.
You may be able to avoid a fatal motorcycle accident if you follow these tips. However, with so many other vehicles and other hazards on the road, statistics on motorcycle deaths indicate that it may be impossible to stay completely accident-free. Therefore, if you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, request a Free Case Consultation to speak with a lawyer.