By: KGD Law
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8 Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
There is not quite like hitting the open road on your motorcycle and the feeling of freedom. These bikes are designed to perform, and they add some fun in between getting from point A to point B. However, the strong appeal of riding a motorcycle is also what can get riders into trouble if they are not careful.
Motorcycle accidents are unfortunately all too common. However, if you are aware of what you are up against and the potential pitfalls of riding your bike, you will be better equipped to avoid them and stay safe on the road. If you want to empower yourself with this knowledge, read on to learn about the major causes of motorcycle accidents and how to be more cognizant of these dangers.
Also a leading cause of auto accidents, speeding is a risky way to ride. Not only is it illegal, it also reduces a driver’s reaction time. Speeding is not an all-or-nothing offense, either. At higher speeds, the impact – and therefore, the damage and risk of serious injury – will be much more severe.
Even if you do not speed yourself, be aware of other drivers around you. If another is driving recklessly, they may not be able to see you or stop in time if they do. Give speeding cars a wide berth. Motorcyclists who drive the speed limit can also fall prey to driving too fast around bends, which could cause them to lose control.
2. Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is illegal in Florida, but some motorcyclists still try to skirt the law. Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist passes between vehicles in two different lanes of slow or stopped traffic. It is especially dangerous if a rider attempts to do this during regular- moving traffic.
As a smaller vehicle on the road, it may be tempting to cut ahead of traffic, but this maneuver is not worth it. Other vehicles cannot easily see a bike approaching from this angle, nor do they expect one to be passing between lanes. If a car decides to switch lanes while you are passing, they may not be able to see you in time. The reduced space between vehicles means both drivers will also have less time to react.
3. Merging Vehicles
On a similar note, larger vehicles switching lanes pose a disproportionate risk to motorcyclists in general. As a smaller vehicle on the road, your motorcycle may be completely eclipsed by a larger vehicle’s blind spot. Some drivers will forget to even check their blind spots before merging, or they won’t use their turn signal.
Since you cannot control other drivers’ behavior on the road, keep yourself safe and avoid lingering for too long in a car’s blind spot. When passing trucks, do not hesitate and if you are not sure if it is safe to pass yet, wait until there is a safer stretch of road to pass on.
4. Left-Hand Turns
Intersections can be especially risky areas for motorcycle riders. Many left-hand turn accidents are a result of right of way errors, where there was confusion as to which vehicle should go ahead. If you are a new driver, make sure you know the rules of the road, but remember to be aware of the cars around you, as well.
Another common reason for these types of accidents is misjudgment of distance. If a bike is driving straight through an intersection, a motorist may have a harder time seeing the bike approach because of its size. Sometimes, the motorcycle is hard to see at all. This can result in a crash if a vehicle passes another vehicle while the motorcyclist is going straight or turning left. Be extra vigilant when driving through busy intersections and make sure your headlights are on for maximum visibility.
5. Dangerous Road Conditions
What may be a minor bump in the road to a car or another larger vehicle can be potentially fatal for a motorcycle rider. Roads that are in heavy disrepair can have potholes and loose gravel. This is another reason why driving the speed limit is important. You may want to slow down even more on especially bad roads so that your reaction time is sharp. Turning a corner too fast on a debris-strewn road can cause you to lose control.
Be extra vigilant when driving through areas under construction. Although road workers often put up warning signs, you should watch out for steel plates or other edges your wheels could catch on. Pay similar attention if rain is in the forecast. Slick roads can make it hard to recover from a swerve.
6. Driving Under the Influence
Drinking and driving is NEVER a good idea. If you are unsure if you are in safe driving condition, always err on the side of caution and get a cab or ask a sober friend for a ride. Driving under the influence can results in a civil or criminal offense, and it endangers not only the rider, but other drivers and pedestrians, as well.
This is a leading cause of motorcycle accidents in Florida and a very preventable one. Operating a motorcycle already requires extra care and caution, but driving impaired can affect a rider’s performance in many ways, such as delaying reaction time, impairing judgment, and lowering inhibitions.
7. Driver Fatigue
Riding a motorcycle can be more fatiguing than driving a car. Sitting upright on a bike for long periods can make the muscles ache, and heavy-duty motorcycle clothing can feel weighty and restricting on the body. Exposure to the elements or heat can cause weather-related afflictions.
If you are planning to ride for a long period, be sure to take frequent breaks to stretch your legs. If you are feeling sleepy, pull over for the night and find a place to rest for the evening or for a nap if it is still early. Fatigued driving can result in similar impairments as drunk driving.
8. Group Rides
Many motorcyclists enjoy riding in groups with other riders. In some ways, this can actually be a safer option, as higher numbers can increase visibility. However, it is easy to become complacent. Do not fall prey to distracted driving with your fellow riders. If one rider makes a sudden mistake or overcorrects a movement, the other riders in the group will have to compensate.
If the riders are too close to each other or not paying enough attention, they have a heightened chance of running into one another, which can create a domino effect that takes out many or all of the riders. Keep safe distances between you and your fellow motorcyclists, as well as other drivers on the road. Do not try to switch places frequently with other riders, and pay attention to the hand signals the lead rider gives.
Motorcycles are a thrill to ride and, in many ways, more convenient than a car. However, being a motorcycle operator comes with great responsibility and a need to stay vigilant on the road. The above tips can help you be as prepared as possible, but sometimes, accidents are unavoidable.
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, it is vital to get legal advice as soon as possible to get you the proper compensation you deserve. For a no-obligation consultation about your case, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz to be put in touch directly with a lawyer.