Because they ride on top of their vehicle, rather than sit inside of it, motorcyclists are left far more vulnerable than car drivers. Therefore, in a motorcycle accident, it is the biker who is more likely to get hurt, and for their injuries to be severe or even fatal.
Unfortunately, when you examine the causes of motorcycle accidents, it becomes clear that they are frequently the fault of the driver, not the biker. This makes the accident and the resulting injuries that a biker has to cope with even more frustrating. The possibility of also having to pay for the costs of your medical treatment and recovery can be like rubbing salt in the wound.
This is why the personal injury lawyers at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent motorcycle accident victims in court.
Motorcycle Accidents are Common
Motorcycle accidents in the U.S., Pennsylvania, or even in the city of Philadelphia are far from rare. This is especially worrisome considering the fact that many riders keep their bikes off the road during the winter months because of how difficult it can be to navigate the roads.
Despite these months without motorcycles on the roads, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Information Institute (III) estimate that there were more than 102,000 motorcycle accidents in the U.S. in 2015, alone. This meant that there were 522 motorcycle accidents for every 100 million miles traveled. For the sake of comparison, there were only 439 car accidents in this span, highlighting the increased dangers of riding a motorcycle.
The High Costs of Motorcycle Accidents
Worse, motorcycle accidents are costly because of how frequently they lead to injuries to the biker.
According to the NHTSA and III, while 70% of car accidents did not lead to any injuries, fewer than 15% of motorcycle accidents did not cause an injury. Many of these injuries are extremely serious, too: despite making up only 3% of the registered vehicles in America and only 0.6% of the miles traveled in the country, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2016. This made motorcyclists 28 times more likely to die in a crash than car occupants.
Car Drivers Cause Most Multi-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes
To make matters worse, studies have found that most of the multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents—motorcycle crashes that do not just involve the biker losing control of his or her vehicle—were caused by other drivers on the road. According to one of these studies, done by the Center for Urban Transportation Research, the car driver was responsible for approximately 60% of these crashes.
Distracted drivers are increasingly becoming one of the most common causes of accidents, including motorcycle accidents, in the U.S. and in the Philadelphia region.
However, what it means to be distracted while behind the wheel is far-reaching and potentially vague, encompassing a broad range of activities, including:
- Talking on the phone
- Changing a CD, music player, or the radio
- Putting makeup on
- Talking with a backseat passenger
- Adjusting a GPS device
All of these activities, however, have one thing in common: they take the driver's attention off the road, putting others on it at risk. As a result, distracted driving can be the underlying source of many of the other causes of motorcycle accidents.
Opening Car Doors
A unique danger that motorcyclists have, and which is a common cause of motorcycle accidents, is when a car occupant opens his or her door into traffic. If done without regard for oncoming traffic behind the car, doing this can put motorcyclists at serious risk because it can leave them without enough time to take evasive action to prevent the collision.
In Pennsylvania, opening a car door into traffic in a way that puts others at risk is illegal, and in violation of 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3705. Nevertheless, many drivers in Philadelphia—especially those who are distracted by something else—cause motorcycle crashes by doing just such a thing.
Left Turn Accidents
Many multiple lane roads in Philadelphia have left turn lanes at major intersections. While stop lights typically have green left-turn arrows for people waiting to turn left at these intersections, many drivers try to save time by turning when they see an opening in oncoming traffic.
However, some drivers are not very good at this and put other drivers at risk when they try squeezing through a window that is not large enough.
This is particularly true when one of the oncoming vehicles is a motorcycle. Drivers tend to have extra difficulty determining how far away motorcycles are, and how quickly they are approaching. This can be especially disastrous when the car is trying to turn left at one of these intersections, as it can cause a severe motorcycle accident.
Road Sharing Problems
All motorcyclists know that cars do not give them enough space on the roads and that this can cause a motorcycle accident.
The smaller size of a motorcycle allows it to turn quicker and stop in less space than a car. However, drivers rarely realize this, and so follow motorcycles at the same distance that they follow other cars. This puts the motorcyclist in grave danger if they have to hit the brakes suddenly: they will come to a stop much quicker than the car driver behind them could anticipate, resulting in a severe rear-end collision that can cause serious injuries.
There are, however, some motorcycle accidents that are not the fault of other drivers on the road but are still not the fault of the biker, either. One of these situations is when the motorcycle accident happened because of a defective design or part on the bike. When a motorcycle defect shows itself while on the road, it can make the motorcyclist lose control and create an accident.
Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
If you or someone you love has been involved in a motorcycle accident in the Philadelphia area, contact the law office of Gilman & Bedigian online for the legal help you need.