May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Despite efforts every year to increase awareness of motorcycle and bicycle safety, there’s no getting around that accidents happen. More cars, more people and more distractions guarantee it.
The combination of great motorcycle weather and distracted or inattentivedrivers of motor vehicles in Florida is deadly. Nearly 600 motorcycle riders are killed on Florida roads each year, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Florida continually ranks in the top three states in the nation for motorcycle-related fatalities, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
Motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a crash and five times more likely to get injured, according to the Department of Driver Services. The injury rate for motorcycle riders involved in a collision is 80 percent.
Surprisingly, weather is a factor in only 2 percent of accidents. Speed is often not a factor, either. The average motorcycle speed prior to an accident is 29.8 mph.
Most motorcycle accidents with another vehicle are the fault of the other driver. About three-quarters of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, most often a passenger automobile, with two-thirds of them caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right-of-way.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney, who may be able to help you obtain more relief than you would get on your own and can guide you through the process of making claims to insurance carriers of other drivers. Retaining the services of a motorcycle personal injury lawyer with experience handling motorcycle accidents means your lawyer knows what to look for when investigating the accident and assessing the strength of your claim.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers several tips for motorcycle operators. Obtain proper licensing, practice driving your motorcycle before you attempt to navigate roads with traffic and ensure your motorcycle is working properly. Always wear a helmet, avoid unnecessary risks, don’t consume alcohol or drugs. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets reduce fatalities by 37%.
Safety Tips for Motorists
Of course, preventing accidents is the best course of action. Here are some motorcycle safety tips for car drivers from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:
- Never attempt to share the lane with a motorcycle. The motorcyclist is entitled to the entire lane
- Watch for motorcycles and look carefully before pulling into an intersection or changing lanes
- It is difficult to gauge the speed of a motorcycle; they may appear to be much farther away than they really are
- Do not follow too closely behind a motorcycle; motorcycles can stop more quickly than other vehicles
- Motorcyclists often slow down by down shifting or rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light
- Never pass a motorcyclist with only a few feet of space. The force of the wind gust can cause the rider to lose control
- When being passed by a motorcycle, maintain your lane position and do not increase your speed
- Maintain a four-second buffer zone between you and a motorcyclist, and increase space when encountering inclement weather, gusty winds, wet or icy roads, bad road conditions and railroad crossings