Motorcycling: Made Unsafe by Negligent or Careless Drivers

Motorcycling: Made Unsafe by Negligent or Careless Drivers

Jul 04

Motorcycling: Made Unsafe by Negligent or Careless Drivers

There were 8.4 million private and commercial motorcycles registered in the U.S. in 2014. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a motorcycle is any two- or three-wheel powered vehicle which can be used off-road, on-road or for dual-purpose (both on – and off-road). Only those that are used on-road and for dual-purpose, though, are required to comply with federal and state certification standards as well as be registered before these can be allowed on public roadways (motorized bicycles, and mopeds or light scooters, which are light powered two-wheel vehicles with engines smaller than 50cc, are usually allowed to run on public roadways without registration).

Compared to cars, motorcycles are unquestionably much more economical in terms of fuel cost. Riders can also easily weave through traffic by lane splitting (though this is not illegal, it should be done safely and in a prudent manner). The continuous increase of motorcycles on the road only shows how famous this vehicle has become and is still becoming. Besides more and more people going to work or running errands using a motorbike, the presence of recreational riders on roads and highways during weekends has also become very noticeable. One consequence of the increase of motorcycles, however, is the growth in the number of riders getting involved in accidents.

From 2010 to 2012, fatal motorcycle accidents were 4,502, 4,612; and, 4,957, respectively, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Motorcycle riders are always vulnerable to serious or fatal injuries both in single and multiple vehicle crashes; this is due to the lack of protection which should be their cushion from the force created during impact.

In single vehicle crashes only the motorcycle is involved. Examples of this include a motorcycle crashing into a solid fixture, such as a concrete support structure, a lamp post, or a telephone pole or booth, or crashing on the pavement probably due to uneven road surface, potholes, or slippery road (because of ice, sand or oil). Multiple vehicle accidents, on the other hand, involve other vehicles, such as a car.

Some easily assume that single motorcycle accidents could only be the fault of the rider, who may be riding too fast, especially when entering a corner. This is not always the case, however, as has been proven in many occasions, wherein a motorcycle accident happened because of someone else’s act of negligence. This is also true in multiple vehicle accidents, wherein drivers of other vehicles are usually the ones at fault.

A study by the NHTSA shows the causes of multiple motorcycle accidents to include drivers committing errors which result to accidents, drivers denying motorcyclists their right of way, drivers behind the wheel even when drunk, or drivers failing or not bothering to check for possible approaching motorcycles before making a turn or when entering an intersection.

According to the law firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., a motorcyclist is susceptible to a number of serious injuries after an accident, some of which can require expensive medical attention and cause debilitating and long-lasting health conditions. The financial damages resulting from injuries sustained in an accident should not be the responsibility of the motorcyclist, especially if the one at fault in an accident was the driver of the other vehicle. A civil lawsuit against the at fault driver can help the injured motorcyclist seek the compensation he or she may need.

Motorcycle Means Danger

Motorcycle Means Danger

Mar 15

Despite the lack of bodily protection, motorcycles riders are obligated by state and federal laws to follow the same traffic safety rules like all other drivers. A motorcycle, which may refer to any two-wheel or three-wheel powered vehicle, should first comply with state and federal certification standards and be licensed or registered for it to be operated on public roads.

Many studies, both from governmental and private organizations, as well as from the US and around the world, say that motorcycles are dangerous. Compared to cars, motorcycles are lighter, smaller, easily affected by road hazards, less stable, less visible, require more riding skills, and encourage speeding. But if motorcycles are really much riskier to ride and more dangerous than other types of vehicles, then why, besides ensuring fuel economy, do many people prefer these (and their number only seems to increase year after year)? Believe it or not, it is because of the already mentioned simple and crazy reason: it’s dangerous. Add more wheels to a motorcycle and surely people will stop buying and riding it. But as long as motorcycles remain to be designed the way these are now, then these will continue to be loved, resulting to many more purchases, rides, and, sad to say, injuries and deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that, in accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle, motorcycle riders are up to 40 times more likely to get injured or die than the driver of the other vehicle. From 2011 to 2012, the number of motorcycle riders who got injured in accidents was 81,000 and 93,000, respectively; death rate was 4,630 in 2011 and 4,957 in 2012. About 58% of these injuries and deaths were due to multiple-vehicle crashes, or crashes which involved another vehicle.

Multiple-vehicle crashes are usually results of: a vehicle crossing the centerline and hitting the motorcycle head-on; a motorcycle rider overspeeding; lack of alertness due to distracted driving, a more common fault among drivers of another vehicle; impaired driving, which can be the fault of both driver and rider (drunk riders, however, face greater danger because intoxication will definitely affect their alertness and balance); failure of drivers to check for possible oncoming motorcycles before making a turn or changing lanes; and failure of drivers to respect motorcyclists’ right of way.

In its website, the Abel Law Firm makes clear that drivers who injure or kill a motorcycle rider in an accident that is a result of their act of recklessness or negligence can be held legally liable for their actions. Determining liability, however, can be difficult as the accused liable party can argue that the rider was partly at fault in the accident.