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May is Motorcycle Safety Month

Published on April 29th, 2020

The National Safety Council designated May as National Motorcycle Safety Month and reminds those who love to ride and those who share the road with riders to be extra cautious as more bikers hit the road with nicer weather. While the number of motorcycle accidents is much lower than car accidents, the severity of injuries is significantly higher for those on a motorcycle. In this article, you can learn about the most common motorcycle accidents and injuries along with important safety tips.

The following are the 10 most common causes of motorcycle accidents:

  1. Head-on collision: Crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles account for almost 60% of motorcycle accident deaths. In the vast majority of these accidents, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front almost 80% of the time and it’s often fatal to the motorcyclist.
  2. Speeding: Speeding is a leading cause of all types of accidents, and particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. Speeding reduces motorists’ and riders’ ability to react quickly in order to prevent a collision. The higher the speed, the greater the impact and the more severe the accident and injuries.
  3. Lane change & splitting lanes: Improper or unsafe lane changes, such as failing to check blind spots, failing to signal, and abruptly cutting across lanes can increase the chances of an accident. Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes to move more quickly through traffic congestion. Lane splitting is not only illegal but it’s also extremely dangerous as drivers are not expecting a motorcycle to be weaving between moving cars.
  4. Sudden stops: Following too close or tailgating can quickly cause a rear-end collision when the vehicle from the front stops abruptly. 
  5. Left-turn accidents: Right of way errors while making a left turn are common causes of injury and death to motorcycle riders. These collisions account for over 40% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car. 
  6. Dangerous road conditions: Cracked pavement, potholes, debris, or even an animal crossing the road can result in a rider swerve uncontrollably causing the motorcycle to skid on the road and/or crash into another vehicle or object. 
  7. Car doors: Motorcycle accidents can occur when a driver opens the door of their parked car into an oncoming motorcycle. 
  8. Driving under the influence: Having alcohol impairs a rider’s ability to be mentally and physically sharp. According to the  National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NHTSA), in 2017, of those involved in a crash, motorcyclists had the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers than any other vehicle types (27% for motorcycles, 21% for passenger cars, 20% for light trucks). Forty-three percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2017 were alcohol-impaired. 
  9. Inexperienced drivers. According to Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), careless driving is a leading cause of motorcycle accidents in 2016 and 2017 with more than 35% of accidents caused by inexperienced or careless driving. 
  10. Motorcycle defects. The manufacturer of a poorly designed or manufactured motorcycle part can be held liable for any injuries or deaths arising from the use of the defective part.

Top Injuries Sustained from Motorcycle Accident

Below provide some of the most common injuries riders experience in a motorcycle accident:

  • Road rash: One of the most common injuries suffered in motorcycle crashes is road rash. Road rash is a superficial injury to the skin where the outer tissue is ripped away by rubbing or scraping against another object, such as the road. If road rash is not treated immediately, it can cause permanent damage such as skin irritations, infections and surface nerve damage.
  • Bone fractures and breaks: A bone fracture can be complete or partial and it is caused most commonly from motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents. A bone fracture is a medical condition in which a bone is cracked or broken mainly due to high force impact or stress. Fractures can vary from simple to compound in which the broken bones cut through the skin.
  • Burns: Burns are common injuries that can result in disfigurement, permanent nerve damage, even disability. 
  • Limb amputation: A rider’s limbs and extremities may suffer such extreme trauma requiring amputation to save the rider’s life.
  • Paralysis: Generally, paralysis is a result of severe damage to the spinal cord, back or neck injury. In some cases paralysis can be caused by a head injury. Paralysis can be temporary or it can result in partial loss of sensations and function along with affecting various parts of the body depending on the location of the spinal cord damage.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): Head trauma is the leading cause of death for motorcyclists involved in accidents. TBI is caused by a severe blow to the head, resulting in a possible skull fracture leading to neurological complications. If not treated in a timely manner, brain injuries can lead to long term or permanent disability. These injuries often lead to disability and many who experience these injuries require long term or assisted care. 

How to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents

Whether your new to riding a motorcycle or you’ve been doing it for years, please review the tips below to make sure your placing safety first when you’re on the road this month and for the rest of the riding season:

  • Get a motorcycle license: According to NHTSA, almost 30% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were riding without valid motorcycle licenses. In Illinois, riding any sort of motor-driven cycle requires getting an Illinois motorcycle license. There are two classifications: a Class L license (for any motor-driven cycle that has an engine smaller than 150cc) and a Class M license (for bikes with engines bigger than 150cc). Motor-driven cycles with an engine displacement of 50cc or less do not require the rider to have a motorcycle license. 
  • Enroll in FREE motorcycle training: There are several free training courses motorcyclists can take including IDOT’s Cycle Rider Safety Training Program which offers courses for riders of all skill and experience levels. Courses are free to any Illinois resident 16 or older who holds a valid automobile or motorcycle driver’s license or permit. 
  • Wear a helmet and glasses: While Illinois law does not require motorcycle operators or passengers to wear helmets, the law does require drivers and riders to protect their eyes with glasses, goggles, or a transparent shield. Under Illinois law, “glasses” mean shatter-resistant material must be worn in front of the eyes and without obstructing peripheral vision. The goggles must provide protection from the front and sides, and may or may not form a complete seal with the face.
  • Attach a shield: A windshield attached to the front of the bike that extends above the eyes when the driver is seated in a normal, upright riding position. A “transparent shield” also includes a face shield that covers the wearer’s eyes and face at least to the point approximately to the tip of the nose. All transparent shields must be shatter-resistant. 
  • Wear protective clothing: Abrasion-resistant and tight-fitting jacket, gloves, long pants along with boots can help protect a rider and passenger’s skin. Go the extra mile and select colors that are bright so that those on the road can see you clearly. 
  • Stay sober: It’s just that simple, don’t drink and ride. It’s against the law and extremely dangerous.
  • Maintain motorcycle: Always make sure your motorcycle is in excellent running condition. Check tire air pressures, oil, chains and brake pads regularly.
  • Don’t split lanes: Splitting lanes in Illinois is illegal and cars don’t expect to be sharing a lane and therefore there’s a good chance that they will not see a motorcycle resulting in an accident. 
  • Avoid road hazards: Stay alert and avoid road hazards, including debris in the road or slick conditions which are even more dangerous for motorcycles. 

Get Started On Your Case Today

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, we can help. Speaking with a personal injury attorney will give you a better sense of your specific rights and how best to proceed. Peter Wachowski brings more than 25 years of experience in this area. He can be contacted at 866-699-3339 or peter@bellas-wachowski.com.

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