In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 4,976 people died in motorcycle accidents and that 88,000 riders were seriously injured in motorcycle accidents. After hitting an all-time high in 2007, motorcycle fatalities have dropped by several hundred since then, but they are still six times higher than car fatalities. Our Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorney explains further.
Preventing Motorcycle Crashes in Indiana
There are a number of ways to minimize motorcycle accidents and motorcycle injuries. Many of these tips are similar to car accident prevention safety tips, but go even further to save lives. If you ride, take the following safety tips to heart:
- Never drink and drive. An estimated 30 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve a biker with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or above. The lesson is simple: do not get on a motorcycle after drinking and never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Do not speed. Another 36 percent of deadly motorcycle accidents in the U.S. involve speeding. While motorcycles are often seen as recreational vehicles, joyrides often turn into fatal events that could have been prevented.
- Wear your helmet. Though motorcycle helmet laws do not exist in all states, it is proven that wearing a regulation motorcycle helmet can not only save your life but also prevent serious head injuries and brain trauma. Currently, only 63 percent of bikers regularly wear a helmet.
- Watch for a rough road. Many serious motorcycle accidents are caused by flaws in the road that drivers in other vehicles would not notice. Train tracks, grooves, bridges, potholes, and bumps can throw a bike off balance and lead to serious injuries and even death.
- Be visible. A large number of motorcycle accidents take place when cars turn into motorcycles or drive in front of them. Use your headlights and wear bright clothing. Be aware that a car may not see you.
- Take lessons. A significant number of bike crashes happen simply because the rider is not experienced. Make sure that you know how to properly operate your motorcycle.
Of course, a biker can take every possible safety precaution and still be injured or killed because of a careless driver.
What Drivers Should Do to Protect Motorcyclists
Drivers are required to watch out for motorcyclists and to do what they can to avoid endangering them. When a driver’s careless or negligent actions lead to the death or injury of a rider, the driver can be held liable for compensating him or his family. Common ways drivers cause accidents with motorcycles include the following:
- Distracted driving. Texting while driving creates a dangerous situation for all drivers, but it is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists because drivers who are not focused on the road are much less likely to see them than they would be to see a full-sized car.
- Careless lane changes. A quick check of the side mirror is not enough for a driver to spot a small vehicle like a motorcycle and new lane-changing sensors may not register that a motorcycle is in the lane. Drivers must check all mirrors and look over their shoulders to see a motorcycle in the next lane and avoid hitting him.
- Tailgating. Tailgating is always dangerous, but a motorcycle provides no protection to the rider when it is bumped from behind. Rather than denting a bumper, a biker can be thrown from his bike and run over by traffic. Motorists should allow bikers plenty of space.
- Failing to yield. When pulling out from a side street or parking lot, drivers must look carefully in order to register that a motorcycle is approaching. Like with a lane change, a quick glance may not be enough to spot a motorcycle.
While motorcyclists should take steps to protect themselves, they are still at the mercy of the drivers they share the road with. When a driver fails to respect motorcyclists, he puts their lives at risk and should be held accountable.