Police, paramedics and other public safety officials have a macabre term for motorcycles that you will likely never hear outside of a squad room or hospital hallway. They call them “donorcycles” because of the extreme danger motorcyclists face during wrecks. A wreck at the speed and force that would constitute a fender bender between two cars can be fatal to cyclists, simply because they ride on the road unprotected. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a motorcycle rider is 16 times more likely to die in a crash than a vehicle occupant, and around 80% of all motorcycle accidents end in injury or death. So even if you don’t ride a motorcycle yourself, if you are a driver you share the road with them. Keep reading for some important safety information when it comes to motorcycle safety.
The state of Georgia has reported a 174% rise in fatal motorcycle wrecks in the past 9 years. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, there were 61 fatal bike wrecks in 2000 and 167 in 2008. A quick Google search showed that other states have shown similar increases.
Visibility is a major factor when it comes to motorcycle wrecks. Due to their smaller size and single front and rear light, drivers are often unable to make them out in darkness. In fact, 60% of fatal motorcycle wrecks occur during dark hours.
But motorcyclists themselves are to be blamed for some wrecks. According to the U.S. DOT, around half of all fatal motorcycle wrecks were initiated because the motorcyclist was speeding. Further, DUI seems to be a problem associated with motorcycle drivers as well. The U.S. DOT also found that motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes had higher intoxication rates than drivers of any other type of vehicle involved in a fatal accident. Statistics like these have caused some segments of the public to perceive motorcycles and motorcyclists as dangerous or irresponsible.
As a motorcyclist, the best way to prevent injury or worse is to take the following precautions:
1.) Wear Safety Equipment – Not all states require helmets, but just because they are not required does not mean that they are not strongly advised. A helmet can greatly reduce head and neck injuries if an accident should occur. Thickly padded clothing can also decrease the risk of injuries like “road rash.”
2.) Practice Defensive Driving – Motorcycles are not like cars. For one, they can squeeze into smaller spaces than cars. While it may be tempting as a cyclist to weave through traffic or speed around deadlocked cars, it’s never a good idea. Car drivers expect to see other cars on the road. The best practice for motorcyclists is to act like a car and not make any unexpected or surprising moves.
3.) Avoid Vehicles’ Blind Spots – Know where blind spots on cars and trucks occur and stay out of them. A driver may think she has checked her blind spots sufficiently when in fact she has not seen you, because she is looking for cars, not motorcycles.
As a driver, the best practice when it comes to exercising caution for our motorcycle driving counterparts is to be aware of them. Look twice when merging or turning, and always be aware that motorcycles may be in your blind spots. Also, don’t follow too closely, because you can make the motorcyclist nervous or even accidentally hit the motorcycle.
If you or anyone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident, call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation.