Posted On March 15, 2022 Personal Injury
When you’re on your bike, enjoying the freedom of riding out in the open, you’re also completely unprotected in case of a motorcycle crash. What might be a minor, injury-free fender-bender between two cars can cause serious damage when one of the vehicles involved is a motorcycle. Whether your body collides with the other vehicle or the ground, the impact can be devastating.
Before you hop on your bike, though, consider the dangers. The Office of the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety estimates that at least 70 deaths and 2,000 injuries occur each year in New Jersey as a result of motorcycle accidents.
Following our experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyers’ top 10 tips for riding a motorcycle safely can help you reduce the risk of being in a serious collision.
When you go for a spontaneous joyride, take a few extra minutes each trip to check the condition of your motorcycle and its parts. Obviously, brake problems, engine trouble, and incorrect tire pressure can cause safety problems, but even a seemingly minor issue with the lights, mirrors, or your horn could put your safety on the road at risk.
If it’s not a beautiful day to be on a bike, it may be better to skip riding a motorcycle at all. Every unfavorable road condition caused by inclement weather—poor visibility, loss of traction, howling winds—is magnified when traveling by motorcycle instead of by car. Even though most motorcycle accidents happen in “good” weather, hundreds of bikers lose their lives each year attempting to ride in inclement weather.
Only 69% of motorcyclists wore helmets in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), even though research has shown that Department of Transportation-compliant helmets are 37% effective at preventing rider fatalities and 41% effective at preventing passenger fatalities. For safety’s sake, wear your helmet on every single ride—even short rides, even in broad daylight, even in perfect weather conditions.
No matter how safe a rider you are, it’s essential that you prepare for the worst-case scenario by wearing protective gear, particularly a helmet. Modern helmets result in little, if any, significant interference with riders’ ability to see and hear, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Motorcyclists can easily make up for the small amount of vision obstructed by wearing a helmet simply by turning their heads a little farther to the side before changing lanes, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re better off without a helmet – you’re not.
Dressing properly can reduce the risk of developing severe road rash from an accident. Certain types of gear, like gloves that prevent your hands from slipping and motorcycle boots that help you grip the pedals without the risk of laces getting tangled up, can even help you avoid preventable accidents in the first place. Even in warm weather, wear a jacket, elbow pads, and shin and knee guards.
Although most vehicular accidents are caused primarily by negligence, road hazards can play a big part in causing a crash—and motorcyclists are at risk of losing balance and falling over if they encounter a road hazard. Constantly staying alert for hazards on the roadway gives you more time to react to any such hazards safely.
Historically, motorists failing to “perceive” motorcyclists on the roadway has been a primary contributing factor in up to 70% of motorcycle collisions, according to the European Motorcycle Accidents In Depth Study (MAIDS). To improve your visibility, add bright-colored or reflective decals to your riding gear and helmet, use your headlights and turn signals consistently, and avoid spending more time in drivers’ blind spots than is necessary.
It may be bad news for biker bars, but for safety reasons, you should only ride your motorcycle when sober. Not only can you face charges of intoxicated driving if you get caught riding with a BAC above the legal limit, but having alcohol in your system reduces your capability to safely operate your vehicle. In 2019, 34% of fatal motorcycle accidents in the United States were considered alcohol-impaired crashes, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Overindulgence in alcohol can dramatically decrease your balance and coordination, two of the most necessary skills for motorcyclists to ride safely, according to the federal Traffic Safety Marketing site. Alcohol contributes to more than one-quarter of all fatal motorcycle collisions and 43 percent of those involving a single vehicle. On weekends, alcohol is a factor in 64 percent of single motorcycle crashes that kill the riders.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation urges riders to follow the SEE—Search, Evaluate, and Execute—strategy to minimize the risk of a collision by engaging riders’ visual perception, cognitive skills, and motor skills. Examples of SEE strategy actions include signaling lane changes well in advance, being mindful about how your lane positioning affects your visibility, and leaving extra space between yourself and the vehicles around you.
In a perfect world, motorcyclists could expect drivers of cars, trucks, and buses to actually share the road with them, like the law requires. In the real world, though, there are countless dangerously distracted drivers on the road – drivers who, unfortunately, won’t bother to “look twice and save a life.” Even though you have just as much legal right to use the roadway as anyone else, never assume that drivers will see you – if they don’t, as happens in two-thirds of motorcycle-car crashes, you could wind up permanently hurt. Practice defensive driving techniques and keep your attention on the road at all times. You can’t control the actions of the drivers around you, but at least you can put yourself in the best position to attempt to avoid someone else’s reckless behavior.
The faster you’re riding, the harder it is to react to an unexpected hazard, obstacle, or maneuver on the part of another motorist. If you’re going faster than is safe, particularly around curving roads or areas with high numbers of pedestrians, your speed is likely to cause a crash. In 2019, around one-third of all motorcyclists killed in collisions were speeding, according to the NHTSA.
When you speed, you cut down the amount of time you have to recognize and react to a threat on the road. Excessive speed contributed to two-thirds of single-motorcycle accidents, probably because driving at unsafe speeds means that you will take longer to stop or slow down for changing road conditions (like curves in the roadway or flooding on the road’s surface), traffic signals, and unexpected obstacles. When you ride at the legal speed, you have more control over your bike – which translates to more control over your accident risk.
You can’t make a distracted, negligent driver see you, even if you do everything right. Always assume the other driver doesn’t see you unless you have confirmation otherwise. If you have any reason to think that a driver doesn’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn to get their attention.
You can take all the right precautions and still wind up hurt because of another motorist’s irresponsible actions. New Jersey motorcyclists should know that the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance benefits that cover your medical bills in a car accident don’t apply if the injuries were sustained while riding a motorcycle.
Even when you practice safe riding habits, you can’t control what other motorists on the road are doing. Sometimes accidents happen regardless of your safety strategies. The physical pain, emotional trauma and financial loss caused by severe injuries can derail your life. Even more frustrating, the accident may not have been your fault, and now you and your family have to face serious, potentially lifelong consequences. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you’re not alone, our New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyers can help.
At Console & Associates, our lawyers have a history of getting motorcycle accident victims and their families maximum compensation—including this $340‚000 settlement that amounts to nearly 14 times the insurance company’s original low ball settlement.