May is the official start of warmer weather nationwide. Warmer weather brings out motorcyclists eager to get back on the roads while waiting for the cold to subside. May is therefore designated Safety Awareness Month to remind not only motorcycle users, but all drivers on the road, to practice safety before anything else.
Why Is Motorcycle Safety Important?
If the proper safety guidelines are not followed, riding a motorcycle can be extremely dangerous. It is very important to be careful to avoid injuries to yourself or others on the road. Reckless driving can result in very serious injuries, and sometimes even fatalities.
Steps Toward Motorcycle Safety
The National Safety Council (NSC) has compiled a list of precautionary measures to take when riding a motorcycle, such as:
- Learn how to ride a motorcycle properly and practice various times before heading to busy roads.
- Wear a properly fitted helmet and provide one for any passengers as well.
- Do not wear loose fitting clothing, as it has a higher risk of getting caught in the motorcycle.
- Wear proper shoes.
- Make sure you are physically healthy enough to ride a motorcycle.
- Do not ride under the influence of alcohol or any other substance.
- Avoid distractions completely.
- Avoid using your phone or other devices while driving.
- Keep checking your surroundings and mirrors.
- Keep enough distance between the car in front of you and the cars next to you.
- Do not drive if feeling drowsy or under any prescribed medication.
- Make sure to take breaks if needed.
- Make sure to stay hydrated.
Why Is Wearing a Helmet Necessary?
In a motorcycle accident, your head and brain are extremely vulnerable to serious injuries. Almost 75 percent of all fatal crashes involve head injuries. Also, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that wearing helmets saved approximately 1,772 lives in 2015. Wearing a helmet can significantly decrease your chances of a fatal head injury. While Illinois does not have a law requiring helmets for motorcycle drivers or riders, it is important to wear one as a precautionary measure for your own safety.
What Injuries Are Prevented by Wearing a Helmet?
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brain damage
- Skull fracture
- Broken facial bones
Why Is Staying Hydrated Important?
Staying hydrated is more important for motorcyclists than any other driver. This is mostly because of the direct exposure that motorcyclists face while on the road. They are more exposed to sun, heat, pollution, asphalt, and humidity, among other factors. If a motorcyclist is not properly hydrated, dehydration can have many detrimental effects, including:
- Impaired vision
- Loss of motor control
- Weakness or paralysis
- Kidney failure
Just staying hydrated can prevent these from occurring and ensure you are safe to ride.
Causes of Crashes
Common causes of motorcycle crashes include:
- Sharp lane changes can cause crashes when drivers make unpredictable turns or fail to signal motorcycles around them before turning.
- When drivers fail to look around them before opening their car doors, they may accidentally open a door in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
- Driving above the speed limit can cause the unnecessary risk of accidents. Speeding causes the driver to lose control of the car, and be less likely to prevent an accident from happening. A speeding car also makes accident impacts considerably worse than a car driving under the speed limit.
- Drinking and driving can also cause accidents. A driver under the influence is less likely to be able to maneuver the car or even drive in his own lane. Alcohol impairs the ability of the driver to make correct judgments regarding distance and perception.
- Stopping unexpectedly can result in a car rear-ending a motorcycle, which has a much shorter stopping distance than a car. It is also always safer to keep as much distance from the car in front of you as possible to avoid rear-ending it as well.
- Not knowing how to drive properly can lead to inexperienced and unsafe driving. This could be dangerous for not only the driver, but also a hazard for other motorists on the road.
- Drivers that do not follow road signs and signals are also a hazard for motorcycle riders. The signs and signals are in place to implement a system for safe driving and ignoring them can cause chaos.
- Other hazards such as debris, potholes, sand, water, gravel, or litter on the road can also jeopardize motorcycle riders’ safety.
- Manufacturing defects can also cause crashes as these defects can cause motorcycles to malfunction.
- It is also common for motorcycles driving next to another vehicle to disappear in a blind spot. If the driver of another vehicle does not look over his shoulder to check his blind spot, he may not see a motorcycle next to him and change lanes or turn into the motorcycle.
Different Types of Injuries
In addition to possible head injuries that are common to riders not wearing proper helmets, common injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash include:
- Neck injuries
- Chest injuries
- Punctured lungs
- Broken ribs
- Dislocated shoulders
- Broken backs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken or crushed legs
What to Do After an Accident
In the event you or someone you know has been in a motorcycle crash, the first thing to do is always call 911. Be sure to exchange information with the other driver, and note any evidence of the crash. Contacting an attorney from the very start can help you navigate the process. It can also help to have an attorney handle negotiation with the insurance company, while you focus on your physical recovery.
Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are very common in Chicago. The injuries sustained from these crashes are often serious or even fatal. In many instances, the accident is caused by the negligence of another driver who should be held responsible for the accident victims’ injures and losses. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident, Abels & Annes, P.C., is here to help. We focus on personal injury cases and can help ensure you recover fair compensation for your injuries and losses. Call us today at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation, or send us an email through our online contact form.