Motorcycle accidents are common and if you’ve ever been in one or have seen the aftermath of one while you drove by, you know how horrific they can be. Because motorcycle drivers and passengers are exposed to the elements, when a car or other vehicle strikes them, catastrophic injuries can result when metal hits the body or the body hits the road. And while California does have a helmet law, that only protects one small part of your body.
My nephew was struck by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle. He was stopped at a traffic light when the driver ran the red light, turned (but not sharply enough) and struck him in the leg. He was only traveling about 20 mph, but at that speed, metal striking the human body is traumatic. His knee was crushed into the gas tank of his bike – it even left a dent there! He was 21 when he was struck and thrown from his bike. His helmet and protective gear saved his life, but the injuries to his leg have left him with permanent pins in his knee, constant pain and a permanent limp. And this from a mild accident…
Motorcycle accidents can leave victims with lost limbs, lost life, scars, brain damage and a myriad of other aftereffects. Roughly 5,000 people die each year in motorcycle accidents and another 90,000 are seriously injured. Motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those in passenger vehicles.
Here are five of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents where vehicles strike cyclists:
Most motorcyclists are struck because the other vehicle was speeding. And when speeding results in a head-on collision, death is a common outcome. Collisions caused by speeding usually result in the driver of the motorcycle being thrown off of their bike which can result in injuries from impact with the road or a fatality if other vehicles then strike the rider. Because motorcycles present a smaller visual profile, they are easier to miss. When drivers are racing above the speed limit, this can be doubly difficult.
2) Failure to Use Turn Signals
It’s easy to be nonchalant about using your turn signals, but the fact is choosing not to use them (or forgetting to use them) can cause accidents. Signalling your intent allows drivers around you to make decisions and if you choose to leave them in the dark and take unpredictable actions (which is what turning without a signal amounts to) you risk your own and other people’s safety. When you turn without signalling and strike a motorcyclist, the results can be fatal. Left hand turns, in particular, are responsible for more than 40% of motorcycle on car accidents.
3) Ignoring Traffic Signs and Signals
Any time drivers ignore stop signs and traffic signals they put everyone else on the road at risk – motorcyclists, bicyclers, pedestrians and other cars. As in my nephew’s case, the driver who struck him ignored a red light. When drivers ignore a sign or signal and strike another vehicle, injuries are almost inevitable. But when the vehicle struck is a motorcycle, the small mistake can turn into a catastrophe that can ruin (or take) someone’s life.
4) Dangerous Intersections
Intersections are the most common and dangerous places for motorcycle accidents. Because of the smaller profile that motorcycle present visually, it can be easy to overlook them and focus on the larger vehicles around you instead. Left turns, yielding to oncoming traffic and coming to a stop far enough back are all critical to ensure you’re not a danger to others in this high-risk area of the roads. For those drivers who take advantage of stop lights and the breaks intersections offer to check email or send texts, they are putting others even more at risk. Half of fatal motorcycle accidents happen in intersections.
5) Intoxicated Drivers
Drivers already over the limit are a danger on the roads. Their response times are lower and their vision may be blurry. With motorcycles already difficult to spot because of their comparatively small size, drunk drivers may never even see them. And because most DUIs occur after dark, this piles risk onto risk. When my nephew was struck, it was just at dusk when even sober drivers have difficulty seeing. When you add drugs or alcohol into the mix, you put lives at risk.
Motorcycle accidents end in serious or fatal injuries over 80% of the time and most are due to the causes listed above. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy riding your motorcycle without having to worry so much about the competence of everyone else around you, but sadly this is not the case. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident of any kind, Nelson Barry can help you recover the compensation deserved for your injuries or the loss of a loved one. Nelson has an excellent track record of recovering settlements for motorcycle accident cases and is ready to help you! Contact our offices for a free consultation today.