Enjoy the ride and be safe!
As spring pushes away winter’s blanket motorcycle enthusiasts pull back their tarps, dust off their bikes and hit the road. This increase in ridership also means an increase in accidents. In 2017, there were nearly 5,000 deaths from motorcycle accidents according to the GHSA Motorcyclists Traffic Fatalities by State report. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) previously found that 50% of motorcycles accidents occur between June and September, with the most in July. Despite these statistics, riders should not garage their bikes. Instead, they should practice preparation, vigilance and safe riding habits.
First, riders should wear available protective gear, most importantly helmets. As observed by NHTSA, “helmets saved the lives of 1,859 motorcyclists in 2016. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 802 lives could have been saved.” If you ride in New Jersey, you should be aware that the state enforces a motorcycle helmet law for all riders.
Motorcyclists also should wear clothing made specifically for motorcycle riders and passengers such as protective jackets, long pants, boots and gloves which can protect against road rash, serious scrapes, burns and other injuries.
Second, riders should follow all traffic rules and never drink and drive. In past years, 30 percent of motorcycle accidents were alcohol-related. Moreover, 33 percent of fatal crashes involved speeding. Riders should also avoid making sharp turns, stay within their lanes, yield to cars and other vehicles, and use turn signals.
Third, riders should practice defensive driving and anticipate changing road conditions, including sudden stopping events. Additionally, riders should use their headlamps at night and during the day, and avoid blind spots. Visibility prevents accidents.
A prevalent cause of motorcycle crashes is the failure of other drivers to see and accurately judge the distance of motorcycles in traffic. Never assume that other drivers see you, especially at busy intersections. To further improve your visibility to car and truck drivers your clothing should be reflective or brightly colored. Being seen by other motorists is more important than style!
Stephen T. Sullivan, Jr. is a partner at Keefe Law Firm. His practice includes personal injury and wrongful death matters. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by another’s negligence, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.