Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation in the state of Texas. Riders love the freedom of our wide-open roads, expansive highway system, and the beauty of our vast landscapes. Riding a motorcycle can be a dangerous pastime, though. Even the most careful, responsible rider faces many potential hazards, and should always be prepared for anything to happen while on the road.
Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Statistics show that the roads are getting more dangerous for motorcyclists. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2015, almost 4,693 motorcyclists were killed in fatal traffic accidents. That’s an increase of 391 over the previous year, and shows that it’s more important than ever that motorcyclists take safety into their own hands as much as possible.
Here are some of the most common causes of severe motorcycle accidents that riders need to be wary of:
- Lane changes. Motorcycles can be difficult to spot for other vehicles, especially in the side and rearview mirrors. If an auto driver isn’t paying attention or is distracted, he or she may never see a motorcycle while attempting to switch lanes. Being struck in this fashion can throw the rider off the bike or force the rider off the road.
- Rear-end accidents. Automobile drivers don’t always understand that motorcycles may come to a stop much faster than they can, which leads to dangerous tailgating situations. If the motorcyclist must stop quickly, a car can strike the rear tire, which may throw the rider over the handlebars or even push the bike into oncoming traffic.
- Right-of-way violations. One of the most common and dangerous causes of motorcycle accidents is when a car violates right-of-way by turning left in front of an oncoming rider. The NHTSA reports that as many as one-third of all multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents involve a car turning in front of a bike. Sometimes called a “SMIDSY” (short for “Sorry, man, I didn’t see you”) accident by the riding community, these accidents can result in the bike impacting the passenger side of the car at full speed. If the rider survives the accident, the injuries are often devastating.
- Door collisions. When a car is parallel parked on the side of the road, it’s the responsibility of the driver to make sure that traffic is clear before opening the door to exit the vehicle. If the driver simply isn’t paying attention, a door strike can prove fatal to an unwary motorcyclist.
Since motorcycles don’t have a metal frame to protect the rider in the same way that other vehicles do, injuries in motorcycle accidents are much more common. While each motorcycle crash is different depending on the exact circumstances of the wreck, NHTSA motorcycle crash research shows that over 80 percent of all crashes result in injury or death for the rider, which is why it’s imperative for riders to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
Preventing Motorcycle Fatalities
While Texas does have a motorcycle helmet law, helmets are not required for riders or passengers who are over 21 years of age and have either completed an MSF rider course (basic or advanced) or have proof of health insurance that will provide medical coverage after an accident. However, the Texas Department of Transportation reports that of 459 fatal motorcycle accidents that occurred in our state in 2015, as many as 52 percent of those killed weren’t wearing helmets. So while you may not be able to account for the actions of other drivers on the road and avoid every accident, remember that wearing a helmet could very well save your life when things go wrong.
Get Help After an Accident
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or someone you love has been killed, you have the right to seek financial compensation in a court of law. Though lawsuit can’t repair your body, it can help pay for the life-long expenses of a severe motorcycle accident. Damages that you may be able to recover from the responsible party include the cost of emergency treatment, long-term medical costs such as rehabilitation or physical therapy, repair or replacement of your motorcycle, lost wages due to an inability to work, pain and suffering, and more. A personal injury attorney can help you determine what damages you may be able to pursue in court a court of law after your accident.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the legal rights of Texas motorcycle accident victims for decades. To speak to a personal injury professional about your legal situation, please call, email, or use the live chat box to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation today.