After the long winter, when spring comes in full swing, one thing that is really noticeable on roads is the sudden increase in the number of motorcycles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as of 2011, motorcycles accounted only for 3% of all registered vehicles in the US, yet, when it comes to traffic fatalities, motorcyclists account for 14%.
Records from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) Traffic Safety Fact Sheet show that in 2012, motorcycle accidents injured about 93,000 riders and killed 4,957. Compared to car passengers during crashes, the likelihood of motorcyclists getting injured is five times more, while the likelihood of them dying, 30 times higher. This is due to the lack of gears that would cushion and protect a rider from the force created during impact, thus, making him or her vulnerable to different kinds of severe injuries, especially head injury, which is the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents.
There are two classifications of motorcycle accidents: single-bike motorcycle crashes and multiple-vehicle accidents. Single-bike motorcycle crashes, which are more common, involve just a single motorcycle and it can be the result, either of negligence or recklessness on the part of the rider, or factors beyond a rider’s control. Examples of these, include riding under the influence of alcohol, speeding (especially when approaching a bend), faulty equipment and road hazards, which can cause a rider to lose control of his/her bike, ending up with him/her crashing on asphalt or hitting a road fixture, such as a lamp post or concrete barrier.
A multiple-vehicle accident, on the other hand, involves another vehicle, such as a car, an SUV, etc., and is the more deadly of the two types. According to the NHTSA, some of the most common causes of multiple-vehicle accidents are driver distraction, a driver being under the influence of alcohol, a driver using a cellphone while driving, a driver failing to notice an approaching motorcycle and a driver refusing to respect a motorcyclist’s right of way.
The website of the personal injury law firm Cazayoux and Ewing points out the sustained efforts of government and private agencies in improving awareness among drivers of the possible dangers that motorcycle riders may face if they fail to observe the presence of motorcycles on the road. One way through which this awareness is conveyed is via the declaration of the month of May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. It is during this month when the National Safety Council (NSC) explains the dangers and vulnerabilities that motorcycle riders face on the road and the ways that would help everyone avoid accidents, save themselves from getting hurt, as well as from injuring a motorcyclist. These NSC tips should help attain the above objectives:
motorists should observe motorcyclists’ right of way and should be extra alert when they are near;
never tailgate a motorcycle, drivers should rather allow a greater following distance behind it;
drivers should be extra careful at intersections where most crashes occur (a very common incidence when drivers would be making a left turn at intersections);
motorcyclists are entitled to use the full lane width of any road. No driver should deprive them of this right by sharing the lane with them;
motorcyclists should never drive along another vehicle’s blind spot;
motorcyclists should refrain from riding during poor weather conditions; and
motorcyclists should always use turn signals before changing lanes or turning
No law, more so, reminders, will save motorcyclists from the possibility of being hit by another vehicle or from losing control of their bike due to poorly maintained roads or road hazards, so long as there are individuals who will obstinately refuse to observe what the law mandates.