By their very nature, motorcycles appear to present the rider with a greater risk of injury compared to that of another motorist. Those who ride motorcycles do so because they have a special love affair with their bike, so finding ways to mitigate the risk of injury or death from collisions should be of paramount importance to motorcyclists.
According to statistics issued by the California Office of Traffic Safety, between 400 and 500 motorcyclists die as a result of traffic accidents each year on the state’s roads. That only refers to the fatalities; the number of injured is much greater, and almost inevitably, tremendous damage is done to the rider’s motorcycle as well.
While some motorcycle accidents are unavoidable, motorcyclists can take some steps to make their ride a safer one for themselves, for those riding with them, and for those with whom they share the road.
Accidents on Motorcycles: Common Causes
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites several common causes of motorcycle accidents. These include:
- Failing to adhere to the posted speed limit;
- Failing to take proper precautions with respect to other motorists;
- Poor driving skills;
- Other motorists not paying proper attention while driving;
- Motorists failing to yield to motorcycles when appropriate.
These causes only begin to scratch the surface of the hazards faced by every person who regularly rides a motorcycle. So are there proactive ways for motorcyclists to mitigate the chance for an accident to occur, or at least minimize the amount of injury they suffer in the unfortunate event of a motorcycle accident? Yes.
Wearing the most appropriate gear will always help a motorcyclist be as safe as possible. This might include not only a helmet, but also their jackets, pants and gloves. Protective gear made of leather can often help to prevent some of the more serious cuts, abrasions and other serious injuries that occur when a vehicle comes into contact with a motorcycle. Issues of proper gear are not limited to the motorcycle driver—his or her passengers will benefit from wearing the proper gear as well.
It is not always possible to choose the weather conditions that we drive in. In wet conditions or in conditions where visibility is limited, it would be ideal if only emergency vehicles operated, but this is entirely impractical. To that end, while driving in bad weather motorcyclists have to not only ride more carefully, they must also take into account drivers in vehicles who may be prone to making driving decisions that are decidedly poorer than they might otherwise make in good weather. Those on motorcycles should also practice extremely safe riding in wet weather, as oil slicks can quickly become accident traps as wheels lose their grip on the road.
Since you can’t rely on the people in other vehicles to know the laws and know the road as well as they should, it is of paramount importance that motorcyclists are as educated as possible on not only how to drive a motorcycle but also on the rules of the road. Completing a rider education program can go a long ways towards preventing a future accident.
Again, no one on a motorcycle should ever assume that a vehicle driver is entirely competent and fully aware of the presence of motorcycles around them. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, and people in cars must also deal with one or more blind spots that can lead to horrific accidents if they are not careful. The best way for a motorcyclist to take into account other drivers is for him or her to practice riding defensively. This means always obeying all traffic laws; it means signaling well ahead of turns or lane changes; it means never assuming that other drivers can see them in risky situations; and it means being vigilant in terms of what other vehicles are doing in front of and behind them.
In any effort to make the roads safer, s motorcyclist cannot make the drivers around him or her better drivers; they can only improve their own skills and decision-making.
When to Seek Legal Help
Very serious and often life-threatening injuries are not uncommon when motorcyclists are involved in collisions and other traffic accidents. Medical expenses can pile up and the ability to work may be severely limited, if not brought to a halt altogether. Almost regardless of the precise circumstances of the accident, it is crucial for motorcycle riders to seek out legal assistance. They should be extremely wary of any offer from insurance companies to settle any claim, and they should have a firm grasp on what their rights are. Working with an experienced legal team can assure the rider that their rights are being preserved and that those who need to be held accountable will be.