John R. Hurley spent the morning of Sunday, September 11, 2005 attending a fund-raiser for a fellow police officer who died while on duty.
Mr. Hurley, 28, was riding his 2005 Harley-Davidson Road King west along Interstate 94 (Interstate 80) toward Chicago when the trouble began. Around 11:45 a.m., Mr. Hurley, an officers with the Chicago Police Department, was approaching Cline Avenue near Gary when he crashed, ejecting him from his bike.
Troopers with the Indiana State Police say trucker and Millersburg resident Gary W. Crisp then approached the scene, hauling a load of milk. Mr. Crisp was unable to avoid striking Mr. Hurley. Paramedics responded to the scene, but were unable to save Mr. Hurley, who suffered major head injuries.
Unfortunately, the tragedy that befell Mr. Hurley is not uncommon. According to a recent report, Indiana motorcycle accidents increased by 18 percent from 2005 to 2007. In 2008, the grand total rose to 2,400.
Nationally the rate of fatal motorcycle accidents rose 7 percent from 2006 to 2007. Some industry experts believe that the increase in motorcycles is intrinsically tied to an increase in the presence of motorcycles overall.
Rising gas prices have pushed more and more travelers to more fuel-efficient vehicles and motorcycles use less gasoline that almost every car.
One official with the Clark County Sheriff's Department stated that the most common type of motorcycle accident occurs when a car or truck pulls out in front of a motorcycle driver and fails to yield the right of way, thus causing a collision.
Cars and trucks often fail to yield the right of way to motorcycle drivers simply because motorcycles are not easily visible. However, all drivers have a duty to maintain a heightened sense of awareness toward the motorcycles and mopeds that share our roadways.
Remember, if a driver causes an accident by failing to yield the right of way to a motorcycle, the law will not recognize the driver’s "failure to see the motorcycle" as an acceptable defense.
Brian Rhodes with the Indiana chapter of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) compares riding a motorcycle to being invisible. ABATE holds intensive weekend courses that prepare riders for the open road with five hours of classroom training and 12 hours of on-the-road experience.
Graduation means passing 17 skills tests on a road course. Accident avoidance is lesson No. 1
The attorneys at the law firm of Keller & Keller represent experts in Indiana motorcycle accident law.