April Showers Bring May Flowers–And Motorcycles
After a long winter, spring finally arrived. With the improving weather, motorcyclists are taking their bikes out of storage and getting back on the road throughout North and South Carolina. As more and more bikers head out, it is important to remember the injury risks and safety concerns.
Motorcyclists are exposed to greater auto accident risks than regular car and truck drivers. For example, according to information issued by South Carolina Office of Highway Safety, on any given year, motorcyclists account for roughly 10% of total accident fatalities in the state. This is shockingly high considering that these accidents only comprise 1.7% of the total crashes. The North Carolina Department of Transportation explains that the problem may actually be getting worse. There were 140 motorcycle fatalities in the state in 2011, but the number jumped to 160 in 2012.
Increased Accident Risks
As noted by the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are at a greater risk for injury dangers because motorcycles are significantly less crashworthy than closed vehicles. Also, in general, motorcycles are more difficult for motorists to see. As indicated by one industry expert, automobile drivers often fail to see an approaching motorcyclist because:
- Drivers tend to watch for oncoming cars, not motorcycles;
- Motorcycles are much smaller than larger vehicles and, therefore, estimating distance between the motorcyclist and the driver is more difficult; and
- Motorcyclists changed lanes more frequently due to changing road conditions.
The problem of motorcycle visibility can be exacerbated by weather and time of day. The first rides in spring can be particularly hazardous for bikers because motorists are not in the habit of watching for motorcycles on the road. Additionally, road debris left over from storms or winter weather can create traction problems for bikers. Sunlight angle can also be an issue as Insurance Information Institute statistics indicate most motorcycling accidents occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Safe Driving Practices
To reduce the risk of injury while riding a motorcycle, safety advocates recommends that bikers have their bikes safety-checked to make sure they are in proper running condition. This includes checking the following: wheels and tires, brakes, chain and sprockets, fluid levels, battery, air filters, fuel system, valves, and major bolt torque specs. It is important that motorcycles have a functioning headlight, a mirror, a muffler, handle grips below driver’s head height, and eye protection unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen.
It is also recommended that motorcycle riders and their passengers wear proper protective gear and that the gear be “Hi Viz” (which is short for high visibility). They also recommend attending the free motorcycle training courses offered to beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders.
Please contact Wallace Childers PLLC if you have any questions about motor vehicle safety laws or accident claims.