Dale Underwood Dies in Tennessee Motorcycle Accident, Speed Blamed

The recent death of an Indiana motorcyclist on a Tennessee freeway has demonstrated the risk of riding at high speed.

According to troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 50-year-old Merillville, Indiana resident Dale Underwood Sr. was operating his motorcycle along Interstate 40 in Humphreys County on Saturday, August 30, 2008. At an unknown hour, eyewitnesses report, Mr. Underwood apparently lost control and began to swerve.

Investigators say the bike made contact with a nearby guardrail. Paramedics responded to the scene, but were unable to save Mr. Underwood, who worked for U.S. Steel,  

Reports indicat that Mr. Underwood died despite wearing a helmet, Authorities believe he was traveling an estimated 80 miles per hour when he crashed.

Regardless of any safety equipment, motorcyclists place themselves at a high risk of traumatic injury and even death by riding at high speeds. With no seat belts, roof or windshield to contain them, riders are often ejected from their bikes.

Motorcycle deaths rose to 5,100 in 2007, according to the results of a pilot study conducted by Westat and Dynamic Services International. That's a marked incrase from 1998, when the number of fatalities as 2,200.

According to the American Motorcyclist Association, Tennessee law requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet. Conversely, Indiana requires helmets only for riders under 18 years of age.

Generally, motorcycle safety courses teach riders to avoid a crash at all costs. Motorcyclists and their passengers are simply too vulnerable. Even a low-speed accident can have major consequences when a motorcycle is involved.

The responsibility extends to those who driver cars and trucks. Just as motorcyclists must be aware of the traffic around them, motorists must be on high alert for the presence of motorcycles, which can be much more difficult to see.

Motorcyclists also suffer somewhat from cultural bias. Despite the fact that motorcycles have gone mainstream and middle class, riding has not fully shaken its association with rebels and outlaws depicted in "Easy Rider" and "The Wild One."

Media depictions often cast "bikers" as brawling, bearded, anti-social, tattoo-covered brutes. Most motorcyclists, however, are not prone to reckless riding.

In fact, some argue that riders are so vulnerable that they must be hyper-aware of their surroundings out of necessity. Operating in contral at a safe speed is one of the best ways for riders to avoid being stereotyped.

Of course, no one has more incentive than the motorcyclist to avoid an accident. The drivers of larger vehicles often walk away without a scratch from accidents that are traumatic, and even tragic, for a rider.

The Indiana motorcycle accident attorneys of Keller & Keller understand the importance of safety on the roadways. If you've been injured in a motorcycle-related accident, contact us for a free consultation.

James R. Keller
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