Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than passenger vehicles on the road, and more susceptible to severe injury, and even fatalities. Motorcycle accidents cost billions of dollars each year in medical costs, property damage, lost productivity, pain and suffering, and legal expenses.
The NHTSA reports that nearly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in motorcycle crashes in 2015, which was an 8 percent increase from the prior year. Motorcyclists account for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, but these vehicles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles in this country.
Risks Faced by Motorcycle Riders
There is a common misconception that motorcyclists are aggressive drivers who weave in and out of traffic and create hazardous conditions. In the main, this is false. In two-thirds of motorcycle crashes that involve another vehicle, the driver of that other vehicle had caused the accident by violating the motorcyclist’s right of way.
Motorcycle riders face some unique challenges both on the road and after an accident that make this enjoyable activity a greater risk than necessary. A motorcycle is less visible than other vehicles, which is the primary cause of most accidents. Road hazards are another concern because they can have a severe impact on these two or three-wheeled vehicles.
Once an accident does occur, many motorcyclists are faced with common biases from insurance companies and the court system. Common beliefs that motorcycles are either all driven recklessly and too fast or operated by “bad people” can taint a personal injury case.
Whether you are a motorcycle owner and operator or wish to safeguard those who are, there are several ways that you can respect other motorcycles on the road and avoid a serious accident.
- Always Check Your Blind Spots. Motorcycles take up less space on the road than a car or truck, which means that they are less visible to other drivers. One of the primary reasons for motorcycle accidents is another driver’s failure to see the motorcyclist in their blind spot. Never rely on just your mirrors and instead turn your head to check blind spots before changing lanes or merging.
- Use Caution When Passing. You can legally pass a motorcycle in the same manner that you would another car or truck, but there are some dangers. The assumption is that you are in an area that allows passing. The threat that exists is that a gust of wind that is created by your passing activity could create instability for the motorcyclist and even blow them off the roadway. Be sure to signal well in advance of your intention to pass and wait several car lengths before moving back into the original lane.
- Intersections are Danger Zones. Intersections are one of the top locations of accidents involving motorcycles. Several types of vehicles can meet at an intersection, and one that lacks visibility could get lost in the mix. Always follow the rules of the road and look twice before proceeding through an intersection.
- Stay in Your Lane. A motorcyclist has a legal right to their own lane, so there is no reason that you should ever encroach on their space. Motorcycles may be small, but they need plenty of room to maneuver and stop. If you are too close to a motorcycle on the road, you risk a dangerous and potentially deadly accident.
- Look Several Times Before Turning. Many types of accidents can occur when one or another vehicle decides to make a turn. Before you make a left-hand turn always take extra time to search the area for approaching vehicles. Motorcycles didn’t have self-canceling turn signals as standard equipment until the late 1970’s, so don’t trust these signals as the only indication that someone is or isn’t making a maneuver.
Speak with a Columbia Auto and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, there’s a good chance that someone has been seriously injured. Whether you were the motorcyclist or the driver of another vehicle, understanding your rights in these situations is vital.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. At Peake & Fowler, our Columbia personal injury attorneys have experience helping the victims of South Carolina vehicle accidents collect the damages they need and deserve. Contact our office now at (800) 946-9461 or reach us online for a free consultation to discuss your options.