May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The event helps to raise awareness of the common causes of motorcycle accidents and the steps motorcyclists can take to avoid being involved in crashes.
According to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an estimated 4,381 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents in 2013. Motorcyclist fatalities accounted for 13 percent of all vehicle accident-related deaths that year.
The most recent Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash report from the New Jersey State Police lists colliding with a fixed object as the manner of collision which resulted in the highest number of motorcycle accident deaths in the state between 2009 and 2013:
|Manner of Collision||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013||Total|
|Opposite direction – left/U-turn||8||12||12||13||5||50|
|Same direction – rear-end||6||5||12||4||6||33|
Four of the main contributing circumstances in fatal motorcycle accidents in New Jersey during that same year were unsafe speed, driver inattention, improper lane changing and the failure to keep right. In a large number of cases, no improper driving was found to have contributed to the fatal accident.
|No improper driving||9||27||18||17||10||81|
|Unknown or other factors||3||0||8||7||7||25|
|Failure to keep right||3||6||0||2||2||13|
|Improper lane change||1||1||0||0||2||4|
The attorneys of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., want to help motorcyclists avoid collisions. We provide the following safe riding tips (based on helpful guidance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration):
1. Inspect and maintain your motorcycle regularly.
Riders should always inspect their motorcycles before going out on a ride. Checking fluid levels, inspecting tire pressure, testing the brakes, making sure all lights and signals are in working order and performing a cursory look over electric components and controls can help you to avoid breaking down somewhere unexpectedly. Routine maintenance can also significantly reduce the risk of an accident or breakdown due to mechanical reasons.
2. Adopt safe riding habits
Thoroughly familiarize yourself with your motorcycle and its owner’s manual. Attending a motorcycle rider-training course can also help you to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become a competent, safe motorcyclist. With this information, you will better equipped to adopt riding habits that can help you and your passengers to stay safe.
Maintaining proper speed, staying a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, avoiding driver distractions, making yourself visible and signaling before making all turns or lane changes are just a few of the ways you can safely operate your motorcycle so as to avoid an accident.
3. Wear the proper safety gear.
Wearing a U.S. Department of Transportation-certified helmet is required under New Jersey law. You are not required to wear eye protection if your motorcycle has a windscreen that meets state requirements. Still, eye protection should be worn to maximize your safety. You should also wear gloves, shoes and clothing that are designed to provide you with protection if you crash.
4. Never drink and ride.
Consuming alcohol and operating a vehicle of any kind is dangerous. Alcohol can affect a person’s driving abilities and slow his or her response time. If you have been drinking, do not attempt to operate your motorcycle until you are completely sober and in full control of your abilities.
5. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Motorcyclists should never assume that another driver can see them. They should also never expect other drivers to yield the right of way at intersections and other locations. This is called defensive driving.
Motorcyclists who stay alert and anticipate emergency situations have a much greater chance of being able to respond appropriately. Being able to stop, swerve out of the way or miss hitting another vehicle without losing control can allow a motorcyclist to avoid serious injuries.
At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., we recognize that even when motorcyclists exercise high levels of caution, it is still possible to become the victim of a negligent car or truck driver. If you have been involved in a crash, contact an attorney who understands motorcycle accidents and will use that knowledge to protect your rights.