The vision of driving down a country road, atop a large motorcycle, with the wind blowing through your hair is an attractive one for many people, and the number of motorcycles on America’s highways is growing. Although motorcycles share the road with cars and trucks, and although they are subject to the same traffic laws as are other vehicles, the fact is that collisions involving motorcycles are different from, and often more serious than, automobile accidents.
In almost half of all collisions involving motorcycles, the fault for the collision lay with the driver of the other vehicle, who failed to yield the right‑of‑way to the motorcycle. The small size of motorcycles also makes them more vulnerable to road hazards that even a small car could pass over safely. Because motorcycles are more nimble than cars, motorcyclists sometimes attempt unsafe maneuvers that drivers of cars wouldn’t consider.
Not only has the number of motorcycle accidents risen as a proportion of all vehicular accidents, but motorcyclists are also much more likely to be injured or killed in a collision than is someone riding in a car or truck. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a motorcycle rider is 18 times more likely to die in a collision than is someone in a car, and far more likely to suffer serious injuries. Some 80% of motorcycle collisions result in serious injury or death, and the fact that the motorcyclist might not have been at fault is of little comfort.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A common kind of serious injury associated with motorcycle accidents is head injury. Traumatic brain injuries, such as the closed‑head injuries that result when an impact causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull, cause over one‑third of the injury deaths in the United States. Since motorcyclists are often thrown off of their bikes in a collision, such injuries are 10 times more common in motorcycle accidents than in other vehicle accidents.
Studies have shown that the number one way to prevent these serious injuries is the most obvious one—WEAR A HELMET! Motorcyclists should make sure that the helmet they choose has been approved by the Department of Transportation. If it has, it will have a sticker on it saying “DOT.” Heavy riding boots, gloves, vests, and long pants can also help protect riders if they do crash.
Motorcyclists need to take extra care when riding. They should drive safely (as should all drivers), and they should wear the appropriate protective gear. Motorcyclists also need to understand the special problems that their vehicles present for others on the road, and they should ride especially defensively.
However, motorcycle safety is a two‑way street. Drivers of other vehicles need to “drive aware” and keep a careful eye out for motorcycles. Motorcycle riders have the right to use the same roads that car drivers do, and this right should be respected. Other vehicles should give motorcycles a wide berth—a small tap from a car bumper could be fatal to a motorcyclist.
MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CHECKLIST
Call the police and an ambulance, if necessary.
Get the names, addresses, and insurance information of the parties involved and the contact information of any witnesses.
Write down the make, model, year, and license number of the vehicles involved.
Take pictures of the damage to your motorcycle before it is repaired.
Do not make any statement about the accident to anyone but the police.
Do not apologize or admit fault.
Do not argue with the other driver.
Call our office to discuss your case.