Motorcycle Safety: Share The Road To Save Lives

The arrival of the spring solstice is also the start of motorcycle season. As the weather begins to warm up, motorcycles will be everywhere. To help keep all drivers safe this spring, New York motorists must be willing to share the road and do their part in helping to reduce preventable traffic injuries and fatalities from occurring.

Motorcycle Accidents Are Deadly

It only takes one unsafe driver to turn a thrilling motorcycle ride into a deadly disaster. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than drivers of any other type of motor vehicle. In 2017, at least 5,172 people were killed in motorcycle accidents across the United States. In New York State we saw a 14.3 percent increase in motorcycle deaths in just two years, totaling more than 136 deaths in 2017 compared to the reported 119 deaths in 2016.

The IIHS research also shows June, July, and September has the highest motorcycle fatality rates of the year. However, that doesn’t mean March is any safer. As all New Yorkers can attest to, spring weather is entirely unpredictable, and any warm day could bring swarms of motorcycle enthusiasts out on the road. Drivers must stay alert for the possibility of sharing the road with motorcyclists at all times and educate themselves on how motorcycle accidents occur to spread awareness on how to prevent them.

What Causes Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles do not have the same level of visibility and protection as cars and trucks, nor does their size allow them a fighting chance in a collision. Unfortunately, despite their safest efforts, motorcyclists suffer the worst consequences of poor driving habits on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), when motorcycles and cars collide, it’s usually not the motorcyclists who are violating the law. The most common road behaviors leading to fatal motorcycle accidents involving other motor vehicles include:

  • Turning left in front of a motorcycle (most common accident);
  • Changing lanes without checking mirrors;
  • Driving distracted, drunk, or impaired drivers;
  • Swerving in and out of lanes;
  • Speeding or aggressively driving;
  • Entering and exiting highways without looking; and
  • Following motorcycles too closely.

Motorcycle accidents most commonly occur during the week, when cars and vehicles are in more of a rush to during work commutes and weekly activities. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)reports that most riders killed in motorcycle accidents die after hitting fixed objects. Motorists who are not paying attention or driving aggressively can easily swerve or push motorcycles into signs, guard rails, road barriers, and concrete bridge pillars, all with the capability of causing fatal injuries.

Injuries Caused by Motorcycle Accidents

Even if a motorcycle accident does not prove to be fatal, serious and permanent injuries can result from collisions that could cost a rider years of pain and suffering. Possibly injuries may include:

  • Mild to traumatic brain injuries;
  • Skin and soft tissue damage;
  • Broken bones;
  • Muscle damage;
  • Neck and spinal cord damage;
  • Serious burns; and
  • Bodily disfigurements.

Some of these injuries result in permanent disabilities that can alter someone’s life in an instant, such as paralysis, severe brain damage, or chronic pain. In addition to the physical losses, the financial implications of these accidents can be debilitating for riders and their families. Extensive medical bills from surgeries, specialists, and long-term care needs can quickly pile up, and often become impossible to pay, especially if the rider has lost their ability to earn wages.

Preventing New York Motorcycle Accidents

New York drivers are accountable for their actions on the road, and understanding the dangers their vehicle can pose to a motorcyclist is the first step. Here are some ways New Yorkers can practice safety when sharing the road with motorcycles this season:

  • Leave space: Follow the four-second rule for providing space between you and a motorcycle in front of you to allow enough time to stop safely.
  • Account for weather: Road conditions are hazardous for both drivers and bikers when the weather is terrible. Make sure to use extra caution and don’t assume the weather is keeping motorcyclists off the roads.
  • Know the right-of-way laws: Knowing and following all the right-of-way laws will help avoid an unnecessary collision with motorcyclists.
  • Look before you turn: Always looking before you turn, especially when turning left, to help avoid hitting a motorcycle.
  • Check your blind spots: It’s not difficult for a motorcycle to hide in your blind spot. Don’t rely on your mirrors alone before you make a move.
  • Stay sober: Never drive while under the influence of drugs or other substances.

Keeping Riders Safe

Motorcycle riders cannot always rely on other drivers to keep them safe on the road. Riders can use these tips for safe riding to help reduce their risk of injuries when in an accident:

  • Wear your helmet: New York State law requires all motorcyclists and riders to wear a helmet when riding. IIHA reports that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and 67 percent effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries.
  • Ride in good weather: No matter how skilled and experienced you are, riding in inclement weather is not safe. Your visibility and the visibility of others is significantly impaired, and slippery roads can cause motorcycles to lose traction quickly.
  • Ride sober: Never drink and ride!
  • Drive defensively: Take a defensive driving course to learn how to reduce your risk of accidents on the road with other vehicles.
  • Stay visible: Try not to hide in obvious blind spots or sneak up on drivers who may not see you before they make a dangerous move.

New York City and Long Island Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

Motorcycle riders deserve the same respect on the roads as every other motor vehicle. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, the law firm of Siler & Ingber is here to help. Call us at 877-718-6079 for a free consultation, or reach out online anytime to discuss your case today.