Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
May 5, 2021
This May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. With the warmer weather already here, more and more motorcyclists are popping up on roadways across the country. Although motorcycles account for only 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S., more than 5,100 riders and passengers are killed in deadly accidents each year. In order to raise awareness and to promote motorcycle safety, the National Safety Council (NSC) is reminding riders and drivers of what steps they can take to limit preventable injuries and deaths associated with motorcycle crashes.
Hazards for Motorcyclists
Motorcycle deaths have been growing steadily since 1998; in just a ten-year span, they increased by 131%. There are a few obvious reasons that motorcyclists face heightened crash and injury risks. Motorcycles have a lack of structural support as compared to cars, vans, and trucks, for example, since they do not have roofs or doors to protect drivers and passengers. Another factor is that drivers sometimes have a hard time seeing motorcyclists, because they are smaller than most of the other vehicles on the road. Drivers also sometimes fail to anticipate motorcycles’ movements, such as changing lines, braking, and accelerating.
Here are a few other examples of known risk factors for motorcycle crashes from the NSC:
- Safety gear. According to the most recent crash data, 1,908 motorcyclists who were fatally injured in accidents over a one-year period were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Current estimates suggest that wearing a helmet is 37% effective at reducing the risk of sustaining a fatal injury
- Collisions with fixed objects, such as guardrails, telephone poles, abutments (the substructures at the end of a bridge or dam), trees, and signposts
- Motorcycles are particularly vulnerable to poor or inclement weather conditions, like rain, wind, and lack of visibility
- Age and gender. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), men who are 50-years-old and above account for more than 35% of annual motorcycle fatalities. Males of all ages account for more than 90% of motorcycle-related traffic fatalities
- In just one year, nearly 30% of riders who died in motorcycle crashes were impaired by alcohol
Safety Tips for Riders
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, classifies motorcycle crashes as “violent events”. This is because more than 80% of all motorcycle crashes result in serious injury or death. While not every state has helmet laws in place that require motorcyclists to wear one while riding, it is critical to wear a helmet either way. Here are some other helpful safety tips for motorcyclists from the NSC:
- Make sure that you wear a full-coverage helmet, since they offer the most protection. It is also important to never buy a used helmet (and to purchase a new helmet if you were involved in a crash) and to buy one that has a DOT (Department of Transportation) sticker. DOT-approved helmets meet safety standards as prescribed by law
- Choose the right bike for your size, comfort, and experience
- If you are a new rider, take a motorcycle safety course. Even if you are an experienced rider, it is crucial to take refresher courses periodically
- Avoid riding during inclement weather
- Never drive while impaired on alcohol and/or drugs
- Keep an eye out for hazards like potholes, oil slicks, manhole covers, puddles, railroad tracks, debris, and gravel
- Know – and follow – the rules of the road
- Use headlights during the daytime and nighttime
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing and boots that cover your ankles
- Wear goggles, a face shield, or glasses that are properly ventilated
- Drive defensively, particularly at intersections where one-half of all collisions occur
- If possible, invest in antilock brakes
Safety Recommendations for Motor Vehicle Drivers
The NSC reports that drivers often violate motorcyclists’ right of way, which can result in serious and deadly accidents. Some risk factors for this include motorcycles’ size, the failure of a driver to anticipate motorcyclists’ movements, an obstructed view of the motorcycle that is usually linked to a vehicle’s blind spots or another vehicle, and driver distraction. Luckily, drivers can take precautions to prevent these types of accidents from occurring. Some useful steps that drivers should take are:
- Avoid all distractions, such as using a cell phone, eating or drinking behind the wheel, tinkering with your navigation or music, etc.
- If you are drowsy, do not drive. Pull over in a safe place and take a break
- Do not get behind the wheel if you are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs
- Show extra caution at intersections. One of the most common factors for an accident is when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist and makes a left turn in front of them
- Do not try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Always give a motorcycle a full lane width for travel
- Always check your blind spot for motorcyclists
- Allow for a greater following distance behind motorcycles
- Be extra alert whenever you are in close proximity to a motorcyclist on the road
What to Do If You Were In a Motorcycle Accident
Injuries from a motorcycle accident are often catastrophic and victims often face an array of both physical and emotional trauma. Medical costs can pile up if the injured party requires surgery, physical therapy, or other types of long-term medical treatment. An experienced and qualified attorney can help motorcycle accident victims navigate their lost wages, hospital costs, medical bills, prescription costs and more as they fight to recover from their accident. If you would like to learn more, please contact a representative at our firm online who can help now.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
Galfand Berger LLP has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.