When spring is in the air, motorcycles are everywhere – which is why NHTSA has designated May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
As a firm that represents injured riders and their families, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. knows motorcyclists face major risks. According to statistics from NHTSA:
- 5,579 riders and passengers died in motorcycle crashes in 2020.
- Motorcycle fatalities rose by 11% from 2019 (5,044) and have more than doubled since 1997.
- In 2020, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in crashes than vehicle occupants and 4 times more likely to be injured.
- Motorcycles make up just 3% of all registered vehicles, but account for 14% of traffic fatalities.
- In 2020, roughly half of motorcyclists were killed in traffic on weekends versus weekdays.
How Drivers Can Improve Motorcycle Safety
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month provides an opportunity to change crash trends by educating both riders and drivers about the need to prioritize safe driving habits.
For drivers, this means remembering legal obligations to share the road and giving motorcyclists the right of way. In collisions between vehicles and motorcycles, it is usually the non-motorcycle driver who violates the motorcyclist’s right of way.
Next time you drive, remember these best practices:
- Be on the lookout for motorcycles that can be easily overlooked and lost in blind spots or behind vehicles because of their size. Adjust and use your side and rearview mirrors to see as much of your vehicle’s perimeter zones as possible.
- Slow your decision-making process at intersections. At intersections, wait until you can see around obstructions blocking your view of oncoming traffic, scan for all roadway users (pedestrians and bicyclists included), and proceed with caution. Most crashes occur when drivers turn left in front of riders.
- Give riders a full lane width and more follow distance. Motorcycles need room to safely maneuver and avoid crashes, so share the road but not the lane and increase following distance.
- Use your turn signals. Always signal your intent before changing lanes, merging, or turning so riders can anticipate your move and find a safe lane position.
- Avoid distractions. Distracted driving can have devastating consequences for motorcyclists who are often difficult to see already. When behind the wheel, avoid all forms of distraction, including texting and cell phone use, and keep focused on the road.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists face many risks when sharing roads with larger motor vehicles, which is why it is essential for riders to know how best to manage them. Some important tips:
- Wear a DOT-approved helmet with a “FMVSS No. 218 Certified” label. According to NHTSA, helmets save nearly 2,000 lives every year and reduce the risk of death by 37%. Learn how you can choose the right helmet.
- Never ride impaired. Roughly 29% of riders who died in motorcycle crashes in 2019 were impaired by alcohol. Staying sober can ensure you’ll be able to react quickly and avoid collisions.
- Practice defensive riding by staying vigilant and distraction free, using your turn signals before every turn and lane change, and positioning yourself to avoid blind spots.
- Get the right gear. Riders can increase their visibility with reflective equipment and bright safety gear. Things like antilock brakes and bright headlights can also help reduce crash risks.
- Brush up on safety skills. Make sure you know how to handle your bike in all conditions and practice in controlled areas before heading into traffic – no matter how long you’ve been riding. According to NHTSA, riders 55 and older accounted for 27% of all motorcycle fatalities in 2020. Treat motorcycle riding as a lifetime commitment to learning new skills and brushing up on old ones and choose a bike that’s right for you.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
As statistics show, motorcycles face tremendous risks that even the most safety conscious riders can’t overcome. When crashes do occur, riders and their families should take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Call 911 for emergency help and for a law enforcement officer to compile a police report.
- Gather information to document the accident and your injuries, including contact and insurance info from drivers and witnesses, pictures of the accident scene, and your medical records.
- Follow-up with your doctor, listen to their advice, and continue treatment even if you think you can tough it out. Without treatment, your injuries may turn into bigger problems and insurance companies may argue that you weren’t really hurt, even if you were in pain all along.
- Call a lawyer with experience representing victims hurt in motorcycle crashes. An experienced attorney can communicate with insurers on your behalf and help fight for the maximum financial recovery possible.
The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., has recovered over half a billion in compensation for our clients, including victims injured in serious vehicle accidents and motorcycle crashes. We’re available to help riders learn about their rights and whether they have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim after a crash. For a free case review, call (212) 577-9325 or contact us online.