May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, and this important initiative couldn’t come at a better time with recent GHSA data revealing a nine percent increase in motorcycle deaths in 2012 as compared with 2011. Motorcycle Awareness Month is an effort to stop the rising number of deaths by educating motorcycle riders and drivers on safety tips.
Our San Antonio, TX motorcycle accident lawyers know that the motorcycle accident fatality rate has increased in 14 of the last 15 years, even as the fatality rate for all other kinds of accidents has declined. This year, however, the increase in the death rate even surprised experts by surpassing predicted increases. With more people dying in accidents, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is more important than ever before.
Motorcycle Accident Risks
In a recent press release, NHTSA illustrated the need for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month with some troubling facts:
- 4,612 motorcycle riders died in the U.S. in 2011.
- Motorcycles represent three percent of all cars on the roads but 14 percent of total highway deaths take place on motorcycles.
- Motorcycle riders are 30 times as likely to die in a crash on a per mile basis than occupants of passenger cars.
- Head injury is the top cause of motorcycle accident fatalities.
- Alcohol use is also a leading reason for motorcycle accidents to occur.
The high death rate among motorcycle riders has many causes, including the fact that motorcycles don’t provide any real protection when a crash happens. One big issue, however, is that drivers often don’t see or pay attention to motorcycles or don’t know how to share the roads with bikes in a safe way.
As part of the Motorcycle Awareness Month efforts, NHTSA offers advice to both motorcycle riders and to drivers. Riders are told to:
- Never operate a bike while distracted.
- Never operate a bike while drunk.
- Use protective gear including DOT-compliant helmets.
- Wear reflective tape and bright colors.
- Avoid riding in bad weather conditions.
- Always use turn signals and use hand signals as well to draw more attention.
- Stay positioned in a visibile spot in your lane so other drivers will see you.
Drivers, on the other hand, are advised by NHTSA to:
- Never drive while distracted.
- Leave the full lane width to the motorcycle rider instead of sharing the lane. This will allow the motorcycle rider room to maneuver.
- Signal before merging or changing lanes so that motorcyclists can anticipate your position.
- Check carefully for motorcycles in your blind spots at intersections and when changing lanes or entering a lane of traffic.
- Remember that motorcycle turn signals do not turn off automatically so you cannot always assume a motorcycle rider is turning on the basis of a signal alone.
- Leave sufficient stopping distance when following a motorcycle and never tailgate.
- Be sensitive to the fact that motorcycles are affected more than cars to potholes, uneven pavement, railroad crossings and other obstacles or problems on roads.
If drivers and motorcycle riders choose to follow NHTSA’s tips and if all drivers of all vehicles focus on motorcycle safety during this Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, hopefully motorcycle riders will be safer this summer as they head out on their bikes.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.