May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Motorcyclists have the same right to the road as other motorists. They are allowed the full width of a lane, and other drivers should do everything they can to keep them safe. But because of their smaller size and low profile, motorcyclists are often missed and overlooked by inattentive drivers, resulting in motorcycle accidents that can lead to severe or fatal injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,014 motorcyclists were killed in 2019 and accounted for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. Of those crashes, far too many happened because a driver failed to check their blind spots for someone riding a motorcycle.
That's one reason why traffic safety officials in California and across the nation have designated May as Motorcycle Awareness Month. It's a time to remind drivers that motorcycles are everywhere, and we all have a duty to share the road.
Blind spots are especially dangerous for motorcyclists
Blind spots are areas that are out of sight for drivers and can't be seen by checking side or rearview mirrors. Every vehicle has blind spots, and the bigger the vehicle, the larger its blind spots.
To avoid driving into the path of a motorcyclist and causing a serious accident, drivers need to check their mirrors and triple-check their blind spots before turning (especially at an intersection), moving over to another lane, or merging into traffic.
Since motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on the road, they are easily missed—especially if a driver is speeding, distracted (e.g., texting and driving), or driving under the influence. There is also a lack of protection for motorcycle riders when compared to an enclosed passenger vehicle equipped with safety features such as seatbelts and airbags.
As such, motorcyclists are prone to suffering severe injuries in the event of a crash. Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries are:
- A concussion or another type of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Fractured and broken bones. For motorcyclists, it's common to suffer a broken arm, wrist, leg, or foot.
- Severed limbs.
- Facial injuries that cause permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Neck injuries, including whiplash.
- Spinal cord injuries that cause partial or permanent paralysis.
- Road rash.
- Biker's arm (nerve damage).
Safety tips for motorcyclists
Helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017. That's why in California, the law states riders must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant motorcycle safety helmet. While other safety gear is not required, it is highly recommended.
This includes face, eye, and ear protection, a snug jacket, denim jeans (with chaps if possible), over-the-ankle boots or closed-toe shoes, and gloves made of leather or similar durable material:
- Eye protection - This is crucial if your helmet has an open face. You should wear glasses or goggles that have UV protection and are shatter-resistant. They also keep debris, dirt, and wind from impairing your vision.
- Jacket and pants - These are important not only for protection against weather conditions but most importantly protection in case of an accident. You want your jacket and pants to be made specifically for motorcycle riding in case you go down in a crash. Bright colors are also recommended to make you more visible to other drivers.
- Boots - These should be tall enough to cover your ankles and have non-skid soles. The right footwear can provide protection from debris on the road and the hot pipes from your bike.
Safety tips for drivers
As a driver, you need to remember that you don't own the road. It's your legal obligation to share the road with others, and that includes motorcyclists.
When you get behind the wheel of a car, here's how you can avoid causing a motorcycle accident:
- Observe and obey all traffic laws, including the speed limit.
- Use caution when judging the speed and distance of a motorcycle, especially when making a turn.
- Always use a turn signal when changing lanes or merging so a motorcyclist has time to react.
- Triple-check all mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or merging so you don't crash into a motorcyclist.
- Don't tailgate a motorcycle rider. Give them plenty of room and keep in mind that their stopping distance is much shorter than a regular passenger vehicle.
- Don't drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Remain attentive and avoid all distractions, especially cell phones.
- Drive defensively.
Talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney today
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you may suffer life-changing injuries. Recovery can be lengthy, and maneuvering the legal process should be the least of your worries.
That's why if you were injured in a Bay Area crash that was not your fault, you need an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to advocate for your best interests so you can focus on healing and getting your life back together.
At Clancy & Diaz, LLP, our motorcycle accident attorneys know how to deal with insurance companies and fight for the compensation our clients deserve.
To find out more about how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free consultation. We serve clients in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and throughout the Bay Area.