People who ride motorcycles as a form of transportation appreciate the freedom that it provides. Motorcycles are generally less expensive than cars, get great gas mileage, are easy to park, and can get through traffic while other cars are standing still. Others ride motorcycles on the weekend as a way to get out of town and enjoy the open road. However, motorcycle riders run a serious risk of injury when they are involved in an accident. The combination of speed, other vehicles, and little physical protection can turn a minor accident into a life-threatening injury for motorcycle riders.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 4,000 motorcycle riders are killed every year in motor vehicle traffic accidents. Almost 80,000 other riders are injured each year in crashes. In 2013, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities.
In 2012 in Washington D.C. alone there were 221 motorcycle accidents. Four of those accidents resulted in a fatality; however, the majority of riders suffered some physical injury after the accident. The majority of those involved in crashes were male, with most falling in the age categories of 21 to 30 and 31 to 40. Between 2010 and 2012, the number of motorcyclists involved in collisions increased each year, and this trend may continue.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Most motorcycle accident injuries involve accidents where a motorcycle collided with a motor vehicle. The accidents are even worse when two or more vehicles are involved in an accident with a motorcycle. These accidents often involve a vehicle turning in front of the motorcycle, or a vehicle hitting a motorcycle that was overtaking another vehicle. Only a small percentage of fatal accidents involve a motor vehicle striking a motorcycle from the rear.
Other common causes of motorcycle fatalities involve striking a fixed object. This may be hitting a curb, light pole, or traffic barrier. Almost 20% of motorcycle-involved fatalities involved colliding with a fixed object, higher than for passenger cars or trucks.
Speed is another factor in many fatal motorcycle accidents. In some cases, motorcycles may be exceeding the speed limit, racing another motorcycle, or driving too fast in wet conditions. The NHTSA estimates about one-third of fatal crashes involved motorcycles that were speeding, compared to only about 20% of fatal crashes for passenger cars.
Alcohol use is also linked to motorcycle fatality rates. In 2013, almost one-third of motorcycle riders killed in traffic accidents were alcohol impaired with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
Other passenger vehicles are often to blame for motorcycle accidents. In many cases, drivers are not looking out for motorcycles while driving and can negligently turn in front of a motorcycle, merge into a lane with a motorcycle, or fail to see the motorcycle in front of them as they make a turn. Drivers can be distracted by using their phones or navigating with a map, or they may simply fail to look in their mirror or blind spot while driving. Other drivers may be intoxicated, driving while drowsy, or driving too fast for the road conditions.
In some cases, the road conditions themselves can make for a dangerous experience for motorcycle riders. Roads that are in poor repair can have loose gravel, potholes, or uneven surfaces that cause a motorcycle rider to lose control. Road work may not provide adequate signage to warn passengers of road dangers ahead. Changing traffic signals may also fail to warn drivers of uncontrolled intersections or new traffic lights.
Injuries in Motorcycle Accident
Other motor vehicles have seat belts, airbags, electronic stability systems, and reinforced bodies to keep drivers and passengers safe in the event of an accident. However, motorcyclists generally only have a helmet to protect them. While a helmet can reduce the risk of fatality or serious head trauma, they do little to protect the rest of a rider after an accident. Protective boots, jackets, gloves, and pants may reduce cuts and abrasions but may do little to prevent injury in a serious accident.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, you should talk to an experienced DC personal injury attorney about getting compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Your personal injury attorney will guide you through the claims process and advise you of your options. You should not have to suffer because another driver caused your accident. Do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.