Motorcycle accidents are devastating, and the number of motorcycle accident related deaths continues to rise in the United States. In 2009, there were 4,462 motorcycle related deaths in America. That number doubled from the number of related deaths in 1997. During that same time frame, the number of car accident and light truck related deaths declined by 27%.As a result of this increase in motorcycle related injuries and deaths, the Federal Highway Administration is in the process of conducting an in depth study regarding causation of motorcycle accidents and will produce its results in the Motorcycle Crash Causation Study (“MCCS”) scheduled to be finalized in 2016.
Wyoming has experienced the same increase in motorcycle injuries and motorcycle related deaths. In 2004 Wyoming experienced 15 motorcycle accident related deaths, and 249 motorcycle accidents that resulted in injuries. In 2015, Wyoming experienced 24 motorcycle accident related deaths, and 319 motorcycle accidents that resulted in injuries.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Cars turning left in front of a motorcycle;
- Cars changing lanes into the motorcycle;
- Driver negligence;
- Bad road conditions;
- Highway construction and repairs; and
- Alcohol use.
Of the above-mentioned accidents, the most common type of accident is a car turning left in front of a motorcycle. This is usually attributed to drivers not being able to perceive the motorcycle. However, when automobile drivers fail to perceive a motorcycle, fail to take necessary precautions, or are driving inattentively, their actions are negligent and are liable for any harm that they caused in the crash. Distracted drivers often do not recognize or become aware of the motorcycle before it is too late.
Motorcycle accidents can result in devastating injuries and death. If a rider is fortunate enough to survive the motorcycle accident, the driver may still suffer debilitating injuries. Common motorcycle injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Head injuries;
- Spinal injuries;
- Soft tissue injuries;
- Road rash; and
- Muscle damage.
As with any accident, motorcycle accidents are not 100% preventable. However, you can take precautions that will protect you in the event of an accident. First, wear a helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed a study and concluded that riders wearing a helmet have a 29% better chance at surviving a motorcycle crash than riders not wearing a helmet. Further, the study also concluded that wearing a helmet does not negatively affect a rider’s vision or the ability to hear auditory signals.
Second, take a course if available. A beginner’s course can teach you the basics, and an advance course can teach you evasive maneuvers to avoid an accident. An approved safety course may also make you eligible for an insurance discount (check with your insurer for eligibility).
Third, wear the right gear (dress for the slide, not the ride). Wearing leather clothing, boots, and gloves can protect you in the event of a crash. Wearing reflective clothing can also alert other drivers of your presence.
Fourth, follow traffic rules. Speed is a major factor in the extent of injuries a rider may suffer because of a crash. The faster you are going, the longer it will take you to stop.
Fifth, ride defensively. As discussed above, distracted drivers are one of the major causes of motorcycle accidents. You can never assume that other drivers on the road are aware of you.
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