Per mile driven, fatality rates for motorcyclists are 26 times that of passenger vehicle occupants. Safety demands greater preparation and increased vigilance on the road. Motorcycling can often be categorized with other exhilarating motorized activities like flying a small plane or taking a boat wide open across a large lake. This is because the motorcyclist, pilot, and high-speed boater operate with higher risk, and a smaller margin of error.
Too many motorcyclists are involved in serious, and often fatal accidents on American roads. In 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, nationally 5,286 bikers died in fatal traffic accidents – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008 – representing a 5.1% increase. A staggering 41% of those were not wearing helmets. In Alabama, 103 motorcyclists died in accidents in 2016 – a 57% increase over the 67 reported in 2015.
Four Major Risk Factors
The four major risk factors for motorcyclist fatalities, identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which can be controlled by the operator, are: lack of helmet use, alcohol impairment, speeding, and insufficient operator education/experience. A total of 24 states, including Alabama, has an all-ages helmet law.
While drivers of passenger vehicles are frequently at-fault in collisions with motorcycles, motorcyclist error often causes fatal accidents in Alabama, too. In 2017, that includes:
- In Birmingham, police reported that the operator died after his motorcycle crossed the center lane and hit a car head-on.
- In Jefferson County, the rider was killed after the operator lost control of his motorcycle in a bend and hit a guardrail.
- Near Gadsden, a 79-year old Virginia man died after he drove his motorcycle off the road and into a guard railing.
Motorcyclists can’t control how other drivers behave, but statistics show there are steps they can take to reduce their risk of injury or death if involved in an accident.
Seven Ways to Become a Safer Motorcyclist
Adopt the first commandment of responsible airplane pilots – “24 hours between bottle and throttle.” In 2016, 25% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents had a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more – the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers than any other vehicle types. This amounts to about 25 deaths in Alabama and 1,250 deaths nationally.
Adopt tips for motorcyclists to avoid accidents published in 2016 on the popular “Motorcycle Cruiser” website, including:
- Do all you can to make it easy for car drivers to see you.
Use your high beam during the day and wear bright clothing.
- Ride on freeways whenever possible.
Limited access roads limit the opportunities for drivers to turn in front of you. Roads near shopping areas are the worst.
- In busy urban traffic, stay in the mix with the cars.
Not out ahead of them; not behind. Many riders who get picked off are the ones 30 yards ahead of a big accumulation of cars, or 20 yards behind.
- Keep your eye on a vehicle that’s positioned where it could violate your right-of-way until it completes its turn.
- Take it easy when you’re out carving canyons.
Ease up on the gas. Excess speed may send you into the guardrail, and you never know what’s around each turn.
- No alcohol before riding.
None. Ever. Riders with more than one beer in their systems are about 40 times as likely to crash as sober riders. And a drinker’s favorite way to crash is by running off the road – often a painful or fatal experience.
- Take it easy in residential neighborhoods.
The slow traffic is often unpredictable.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, the cause of the accident is important. If someone else is to blame for the accident, you might opt to seek compensation. Clay, Massey & Associates offers FREE initial consultations and we have the experience to help get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 251-433-1000 or click the Live Chat link on our site!