What Should I Know About Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month?

Motorcycle Safety

As the temperatures slowly start to climb with the recent arrival of spring, motorcyclists who have been itching to get out on the open road can dust off their bikes and enjoy the thrill and exhilaration that motorcyclists feel the second they hit the road. For hard-core motorcyclists, there is simply no better way to travel. However, there is no denying that riding a motorcycle is far more dangerous than driving a car because there is nothing protecting the motorcyclist from the force of impact if they are involved in a car accident. They are much more likely to suffer serious, even fatal personal injury compared with the occupants of a passenger vehicle. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, which raises awareness about the steps that motorcyclists, and the motorists who are sharing the road with them, should take to stay safe and avoid a devastating accident.

Victims of accidents involving a motorcycle are urged to contact an experienced accident lawyer for assistance.

What Makes Motorcycles So Dangerous?

Although today’s newer cars come equipped with a wide range of advanced safety features such as airbag systems, anti-lock brakes, and collision warning systems, motorcycles do not have any of these features. In addition, there is no steel frame protecting the rider from the impact of a crash. With the exception of helmets and other protective gear that motorcyclists can wear, motorcycle riders are extremely vulnerable to injuries if they are involved in an accident. Unfortunately, even in states where helmets are required by law, not all motorcyclists wear a helmet every time they ride. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, over 1,800 motorcyclist fatalities could have been prevented if the rider had been wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The following are examples of motorcycle accident statistics:

  • Motorcycle fatalities are 30 times higher than car accident fatalities.
  • Motorcyclists who are over the age of 40 are roughly 20 times more likely to suffer an injury and 36 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury in a motorcycle accident compared with a car driver who is the same age.
  • Approximately 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in injuries or fatalities, whereas only 20 percent of car accidents result in injuries or fatalities.
  • Although motorcyclists represent only about two percent of registered vehicles, they represent approximately five percent of highway fatalities.
  • According to the NHTSA, 13 motorists out of every 100,000 are involved in a fatal collision, compared with 72 out of every 100,000 motorcyclists.
  • Motorcyclists who are involved in a car accident have a 98 percent change of suffering a serious injury.
  • Motorcycle riders often require significant long-term financial support to pay for serious spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

What Safety Tips Should Motorcyclists Keep in Mind?

Even the safest, most responsible motorcyclist can be involved in a serious car accident if a motorist stops suddenly, cuts off a motorcyclist, or is not paying attention to his or her surroundings. By keeping the following safety tips in mind, motorcyclists can reduce the risk of a serious accident:

  • Always wear a helmet. Most states have helmet laws that require motorcyclists to wear a helmet at all times. Wearing a helmet that fits properly is one of the most effective ways to protect motorcyclists from serious head and brain injuries in the event of an accident. Head injuries are the leading cause of death among motorcycle riders.
  • Wear the appropriate protective gear. In addition to helmets, motorcycle riders are strongly urged to wear the appropriate motorcycle gear that can protect riders from injuries caused by sliding across the asphalt. This includes leather pants or other armored gear, as well as motorcycle boots that protect the feet from the asphalt and the heat from the engine. Riders are also encouraged to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing so that other motorists can easily see them when it is dark or during inclement weather.
  • Keep the motorcycle well maintained. Before every ride, motorcyclists are urged to check the tread depth and tire pressure, as well as the hand and foot brakes, headlights, fluid levels, and signal indicators. When carrying cargo, the rider should make sure that it is securely fastened and adjust the tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight.
  • Ride within skill level. Motorcycle riders should not try to attempt driving speeds or maneuvers that are beyond their skill level. For example, a rider should not attempt high speeds or weaving in and out of lanes if it is unsafe to do so, or the rider does not yet have the skills to attempt this type of move.
  • Leave plenty of space. Riders should always leave plenty of road space to come to a complete stop. It is a good idea to practice stopping in a safe space in order to get a feel for the bike, how much following distance a rider should give, and how much road space is needed to slow down and come to a complete stop.
  • Avoid distracted driving. Any type of driving distractions can be very dangerous, but this is particularly true when riding a motorcycle. Checking a text, answering a phone, or any other type of distracted driving can increase the risk of a serious motorcycle accident.
  • Practice defensive riding. Motorcycle riders should never assume that a motorist sees him or her. Motorcyclists must pay close attention to the other vehicles in the vicinity and take proactive steps to avoid a collision.
  • Pay close attention to the weather. Those riding should always check the local weather forecast before hitting the road. Weather conditions can quickly change this time of year. If severe weather is predicted, motorcyclists should consider waiting until the storm passes before getting back on the road. If traveling cannot be avoided, the motorcycle rider should slow down and use extreme caution.

What Should Motorists Do to Safely Share the Road with Motorcyclists?

Even when motorcyclists take every safety precaution, they cannot control how motorists drive. When motorists fail to make safety a priority and make unsafe driving choices, it can jeopardize the safety of other vehicles on the road, including motorcyclists. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are at much greater risk of suffering a severe or fatal injury when a motorist causes a car accident. Car drivers are urged to use extra caution when sharing the road with a motorcyclist and keep the following safety recommendations in mind at all times:

  • Avoid distracted driving. Like motorcyclists, drivers should keep their attention focused on the road at all times. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 25 percent of all car accidents are caused by distracted driving. Common examples include talking or texting on the phone, eating, changing the radio station, reaching for something in the back seat, and arguing with another passenger.
  • Do not drive drunk. Close to 30 percent of car accidents in the United States are caused by drunk driving. Despite the fact that it is common knowledge that drunk driving is dangerous and illegal, people continue to engage in this unsafe behavior. If a motorist plans to consume alcohol, he or she should arrange for a ride home with a friend or contact a ride sharing service such as Uber or Lyft.
  • Get enough sleep. Drowsy driving is another type of driving behavior that can cause serious accidents. In fact, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 328,000 accidents are caused by drowsy drivers, and the actual number is likely much higher because these accidents are largely underreported.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, swerving in and out of lanes, tailgating, cutting off other drivers, and sending rude gestures are all examples of aggressive driving. According to the NHTSA, over 11,000 people are killed each year by aggressive drivers.

What are Examples of Motorcycle Accident Injuries?

Like pedestrians and bicyclists, motorcyclists are very vulnerable to injuries when they are involved in a car accident. If they are fortunate enough to survive the accident, it is very likely that a motorcycle rider will suffer very serious injuries that may require hospitalization, multiple surgeries, and even long-term care. Depending on the nature and severity of the accident, the motorcyclist may suffer a range of injuries, including the following:

  • Amputation
  • Back injuries
  • Biker’s arm, which causes permanent damage to the nerves
  • Burn injuries
  • Crushing injuries
  • Concussion
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Disfigurement
  • Internal organ damage
  • Neck injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Road rash
  • Severe fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Injured Motorcyclists

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, it is in your best interest to contact the highly skilled and experienced Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident, determine whether negligence was involved, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all of your questions and concerns. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.