Archive for May, 2013

May Focus in Texas: Reducing Motorcycle Accidents

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.

Safety Tips

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.

San Antonio Traffic Safety Watch: Teens Face High Risk for Summer Accidents

With car accidents the leading cause of death for young people, it is imperative that all parents read the new GHSA publication: “Promoting Parent Involvement in Teen Driving: An In-Depth Look at the Importance and the Initiatives.”

The GHSA report indicates that kids who see their parents as authoritative are as much as 70 percent less likely to drive while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Teens with authoritative parents are also 50 percent more likely to wear seat belts while driving and 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while behind the wheel. Our San Antonio, TX accident attorneys know that this makes a big difference in how safe teens are, especially as data shows that teens who see their parents as uninvolved are twice as likely to get into a car crash.

How Can Parents Help Teens to Avoid Accidents?

The best way for parents to help kids avoid car crashes is to understand the risks that young people face and to actively take steps to help your kids deal with those risks. According to the GHSA, some of the biggest factors that can affect whether a teen is safe while driving or not include:

  • Driving restrictions on teen drivers. In states with graduated licensing laws that impose practice requirements, limits on nighttime driving or limits on driving with passengers in the car, the risk of teen car accidents is reduced by as much as 20-40 percent. Parents should enforce not just legal restrictions imposed by the states but should also make their own rules about issues such as passengers in the car and drive time.
  • Teen seat belt use. Teens are less likely than other age groups to wear a seat belt every time they are in the car. Unfortunately, 58 percent of young drivers and 50 percent of young passengers killed in 2011 had no seat belts on at the time of the fatal car wreck. Parents should always require seat belt use. Parents should also buckle up themselves to set a good example.
  • Dangerous driving behaviors. There are three behaviors that account for around half of all accidents involving teen drivers. These behaviors are speeding, distracted driving and inadequate surveillance. Parents need to understand these dangers and make sure that teen drivers are aware of the risks.
  • Whether the teen is getting enough sleep. Drowsy driving is a major problem among teen drivers, with as many as one in seven drivers ages 16-24 admitting to falling asleep in the 30 days before taking a distracted driving survey.  Parents should talk to kids about drowsy driving and make sure that teens get plenty of sleep.

If parents are aware of these issues, if they set and enforce rules and guidelines and if they model good driving behavior, teens will be less at risk of dying from the leading cause of youth death. Not only that, but everyone else on the roads who could be hit by a teen driver will also be safer as a result.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.