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Does Distracted Driving Cause more Motorcycle Accidents?

The number of annual motorcycle accident fatalities has vastly increased during the past couple of decades, and many people attribute the sharp rise in fatalities to distracted driving. During the 1990s, the average motorcycle accident fatality rate was less than 3,000 per year. This number began to rise significantly in the early to mid-2000s, and today, annual motorcycle crash fatality rates hover around 5,000 every year.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the road. There are numerous ways a motorist can be distracted, some of the most common include:

  • Talking on the phone while driving;
  • Texting while driving;
  • Watching YouTube videos;
  • Reading a GPS navigation map;
  • Eating and drinking;
  • Grooming;
  • Looking at road signs, billboards, and other signs and displays;
  • Tuning in a new station on the car radio;
  • Talking to other people in the vehicle;
  • Many others…

The different types of distracted driving can be divided into four general categories:

  • Visual: Fixing your eyes on something other than the road.
  • Audio: Hearing sounds that are not related to driving.
  • Manual: Handling objects other than the steering wheel or other essential vehicle components.
  • Cognitive: Thinking about something other than driving (e.g., daydreaming).

Drivers have always had distractions, and they can all be hazardous if they occur in the wrong place at the wrong time. That said, texting while driving and similar smartphone activity is especially dangerous, because it can fall into the at least three of the distraction categories; visual, manual, and cognitive. And with the alerts and notifications we receive regularly on our cell phones, it could be argued that audio should be included in this list as well.

To put into perspective just how dangerous texting while driving is, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that sending or reading a text for just five seconds is equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed.  Distracted driving claimed the lives of more than 3,100 individuals in U.S. in 2017 alone.

How Distracted Driving Endangers Motorcyclists

Our national distracted driving epidemic has made the roadways less safe for everyone. But that said, motorcyclists are at even greater risk of accidents with serious injuries because of motorists who drive while distracted. Unlike occupants of cars and trucks, those who ride motorcycles are not protected by a steel cage, and when they are involved in a collision, there is not much that separates their bodies from hitting the pavement. This is why motorcyclists are statistically 28 times more likely to be killed in a collision (per mile driven) than motor vehicle occupants.

What makes it worse for motorcyclists is their small profile. A large number of distracted driving accidents happen because of motorists who cause collisions because they are too busy looking at their phones see a motorcycle or motor vehicle that enters their blind spot. These accidents can also happen because the driver who is looking at his/her phone weaves into another lane. The problem has gotten so bad, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2017 that distracted driving is now a contributing factor in approximately 40% of all motorcycle accidents.

Most states have laws against distracted driving, but the consequences for a violation are usually nothing more than a small fine. The dangers of texting while driving are considered to be on par with drunk driving, but the penalties are not nearly enough to deter drivers from continuing with this type of driving behavior. So, until the laws get tougher and more drivers start adhering to them, motorcyclists need to be proactive and take steps to protect themselves from distracted drivers.

Here are some ways motorcyclists can stay safer on the roads:

  • Wear bright or reflective clothing and keep your lights on even during the day to help other drivers see you;
  • Always make eye contact with the driver of a car or truck before crossing in front of them;
  • Be on the lookout for signs that other drivers are distracted, such as weaving over the center line, moving back and forth rapidly between lanes, and remaining at a stop light even after the light turns green;
  • And of course, do not text while driving or allow yourself to get distracted in other ways.  

Injured by a Distracted Driver in South Carolina? Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Peake & Fowler

You can follow all the safety rules, but unfortunately, you cannot control what other drivers will do. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still end up in an accident that is caused by the negligence of another motorist. If this has happened to you or someone close to you, call Peake and Fowler today at 803-788-4370 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.

How to Avoid Blind Spot Motorcycle Accidents

Millions of people love to ride motorcycles, and there are few activities that give you a greater sense of freedom. In South Carolina, our weather allows for year-round riding, and the Palmetto State hosts numerous motorcycle events throughout the year. While motorcycle riding is fun and exhilarating, it can also be very dangerous.

Motorcycle deaths have been on the rise for the past two decades. In fact, the number of fatalities from motorcycle accidents more than doubled in the 22-year period from 1994 to 2016, going from 2,320 fatalities up to 5,286 fatalities during that period.

There are many factors that are said to be contributing to the rise in motorcycle fatalities. Alcohol, weather, road conditions, and driver and rider negligence all play a role, but the one factor that seems to correlate with the rise in motorcycle accidents during the past couple decades is the increased use of cell phones while behind the wheel.

Distracted driving has always been an issue that contributes to auto accidents. However, texting while driving and similar activities take this danger to a whole new level, because they take the focus of the driver completely off of the road. 

Approximately two-thirds of the time, the driver of another vehicle is the one most at-fault for a motorcycle collision. And in and large number of cases, the reason vehicles collide into motorcycles is because the vehicle driver fails to see the motorcycle in their blind spot.

Tips for Avoiding Blind Spot Motorcycle Accidents

All cars and trucks have blind spots, and the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot is. When another vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, or even a pedestrian enters a vehicle’s blind spot, the vehicle driver cannot see whatever is there when they look at their rearview or sideview mirrors. This is the cause of thousands of motor vehicle accidents each year, and it is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents.

Many newer vehicles come equipped with blind spot monitors, and hopefully, this will vastly reduce the number of blind spot accidents in the future. That said, most vehicles do not have these monitors yet. And to avoid blind spot motorcycle accidents, it is important for vehicle drivers and motorcyclists to take extra precautions.

For Motorists

Here are some tips for drivers to help them avoid blind spot motorcycle accidents:

  • Properly adjust mirrors: Adjust your rearview mirror so that your rear window is completely framed; and adjust your sideview mirrors so that they are pointed toward your blind spot. This tutorial from Car and Driver provides more detailed instructions and illustrations on how to ensure that your mirrors are adjusted properly.
  • Look over your shoulders: Even with your mirrors properly adjusted, you can still miss a motorcycle that enters your blind spot. For this reason, it is always good practice to look over your shoulder to the side you are turning to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
  • Use your blinker when changing lanes: Always signal before changing lanes, so motorcyclists and other drivers know your intentions.
  • Stay alert: Pay attention to vehicles and motorcycles that may be entering your blind spot. This means avoiding smart phone activity and other distractions when you are driving.

For Motorcyclists

Here are some tips for motorcyclists to avoid danger when driving near other vehicles:

  • Stay out of blind spots: Ride behind or in front of the vehicle and avoid riding alongside a vehicle to help ensure you are not in their blind spot for any length of time.
  • Practice defensive driving: Stay alert and try to anticipate what the vehicles in front of you and behind you might do. Allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles and avoid distracted driving.
  • Pass carefully: When you pass another vehicle, complete the pass as quickly and safely as possible, so you are able to limit the amount of time you spend in their blind spot.
  • Stay visible: Wear brightly-colored or fluorescent clothing and keep your headlights on at all times to help other drivers see you.

Injured in a Blind Spot Motorcycle Accident? Contact a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer

There are times when you do everything right and still end up in an accident. If you or someone close to you was injured in a motorcycle accident that was the fault of another party, you may have a right to compensation. After you have received medical attention for your injuries, get in touch with a skilled personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

At Peake & Fowler, we have in-depth experience successfully representing clients injured in motorcycle accidents and all other types of personal injury cases in South Carolina. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form.

I was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident: Do I Need to Retain an Attorney?

Nearly 100,000 individuals are injured in motorcycle accidents each year. And many of these cases result in serious and catastrophic injuries, especially to the rider, who has less protection. A motorcycle accident can turn your life upside down. Medical bills can start to pile up, and you might need to miss several days, weeks, or even months from work. In the most severe cases, injuries can be permanent and debilitating, potentially resulting in the inability to participate in gainful activity.

Those injured in a motorcycle accident often wonder if it is worthwhile to retain an attorney.  After all, the attorney gets a percentage of the eventual settlement, and maybe they would be better off dealing with the insurance company on their own. In most cases, it is in your best interests to at least talk to a lawyer after a motorcycle accident to review the case and discuss your options.

The legal process can be complicated and confusing, and there are many pitfalls that could cause you to lose out on the just compensation you deserve. A skilled personal injury lawyer has the experience needed to navigate the complexities of the process and help bring your case to a successful conclusion.

Here are just a few reasons to consider retaining an attorney if you sustained moderate to severe injuries in a motorcycle accident:

Your Attorney can Properly Value your Case

If you have never dealt with a motor vehicle accident injury before, you may have difficulty determining whether you have a legal claim, and how much compensation to ask for. An attorney with in-depth knowledge of this area of the law can thoroughly assess your case, determine the full extent of your injuries/losses, and explore every potential legal avenue for you to recover full and fair compensation.

Your Attorney can Protect your Legal Rights

Insurance companies often use various tactics to diminish the value of a claim or deny the claim altogether. One of the most common tactics used is to try to get you to admit at least partial fault for the accident. Your lawyer will most likely advise you not to provide any official statements to the insurance company, or to admit any kind of fault for the accident. Your lawyer will also be able to put together the strongest possible argument for the compensation you are asking for, and when necessary, they can bring in expert witnesses (from the medical profession and other industries) to help substantiate your claim.

Your Attorney can Negotiate Directly with the Insurance Adjuster

Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators who deal with injury claims day in and day out. When an adjuster is dealing with an injury victim, they will often present a lowball settlement offer that is worth far less than the value of your claim. Knowing that you are unlikely to file a personal injury lawsuit without a lawyer, the adjuster has far less incentive to present a fair offer. Your lawyer can push back against the adjuster by presenting a strong argument for the compensation you deserve. In addition, the adjuster knows that your lawyer is ready and able to pursue full damages through litigation if necessary.

Retaining an Attorney allows You to Focus on your Recovery

One of the most important reasons to consider retaining an attorney after a motorcycle accident is your health. If you have been injured in an accident, you should be focusing on getting recovered, rather than dealing with the insurance company. Your lawyer can handle the legal process from start to finish, including fully investigating the case, determining the exact cause of the accident, gathering all important facts and pieces of evidence, dealing with complicated paperwork, and negotiating your settlement. This frees you up to concentrate on getting healthy again.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in South Carolina? Call the Seasoned Personal Injury Attorneys at Peake & Fowler

If you or someone close to you has suffered injury in a motorcycle accident, it is important for you to fully understand your legal rights and options. Before accepting any offers from the insurance company, contact us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation and case assessment. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form.

Motorcyclist Killed in Crash with Pickup

A recent accident in Clarendon County has resulted in one fatality. A 68-year-old man was driving his motorcycle south on Lake Marion Shores Road in Summerton, South Carolina. A pickup truck traveling north on the road is believed by South Carolina Highway Patrol to have crossed the center line, and in doing so, struck the motorcyclist. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Highway Patrol did not mention whether alcohol was involved in the crash, nor whether charges would be filed against the driver of the truck in conjunction with the accident.

In crashes between larger vehicles and motorcycles, the motorcyclist rarely emerges unscathed. Head-on crashes with motorcycles are common sources of motorcyclist fatalities, with some 74% of all motorcycle-involved crashes being head-on collisions. These crashes occur either when cars drift over the center line into the motorcycle’s path, or turn left in front of an oncoming motorcycle. Motorcyclists are much more prone to being injured and killed in crashes, in part because they lack the external protections afforded by a vehicle. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that motorcyclist fatalities occur 26 times more frequently than passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in motor vehicle accidents.

Motorcyclists and their passengers are much more vulnerable on the road than drivers of passenger vehicles, and almost any accident can prove potentially fatal to a motorcyclist. No matter how much caution you take while you’re riding your bike, your safety is often in the hands of truck or car drivers who may be drowsy, inattentive, drunk, or texting. If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you need an attorney who will stand up for you in court and ensure you’re paid what you’re owed for your injuries. Contact Columbia, South Carolina’s experienced personal injury and motorcycle attorneys at Peake & Fowler for an evaluation of your potential lawsuit, at 803-788-4370.