There is no doubt that riding a motorcycle in Massachusetts carries inherent risks. Riders are exposed to the elements such as wind, rain and fog as well as poorly maintained roadways that are commonly frequented by intoxicated and inattentive motorists. Any kind of accident where a rider is thrown from a bike has a high probability of the rider sustaining a serious injury.
Riders are taught in safety courses to always ride defensively and to assume that motorists do not see them. And they are usually not the ones at fault in an accident. However, taking risks like lane splitting, not wearing a helmet, riding in poor weather, and not being cautious at intersections where most accidents occur greatly increase your odds of being in an accident.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Motorcycle accidents appear to be on the increase. In 2021, fatalities in Massachusetts from January to July saw an increase of 31% over the past 5-years over the same period. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that riders are 29 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries in an accident than a passenger in a motor vehicle and 4 times more likely to suffer a serious injury.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
There are a number of factors that lead to motorcycle accidents. Here are the 6 of the most common causes:
- Road conditions—riders need to be cautious when riding on any road surface and to be aware of debris, uneven surfaces, oil slicks, wet or icy pavement, and loose gravel.
- Inattentive motorists—many car drivers are not attentive to motorcycles since they are so much smaller than a regular automobile.
- Left turns—numerous accidents involving both cars and motorcycles occur when a motorist is making a left turn. More than 40% of road accidents involving a motorcycle and a car occur when a motorist is attempting a left-hand turn.
- Inexperience—novice riders are prone to not recognizing common road hazards, to taking turns at speeds too excessive to safely navigate, or to make mistakes while shifting. Not driving defensively and assuming that other motorists see them are typical mistakes among new riders.
- Lane splitting—riding in between lanes during times of traffic congestion is illegal in most states though very tempting since it can save time. However, during times of congestion motorists look to change into other lanes where traffic is moving even if for a short distance and can swiftly and without warning move into a motorcycle, knocking him off the bike and exposing the rider to serious injuries.
- Age—older people are attracted to motorcycles for a variety of reasons, but aging leads to decreased vision and slower reflexes where even a failure to act a tenth of a second faster can be fatal.
If you are in a motorcycle accident due to any one of the above six (6) or any other reason, do not hesitate to contact an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney who has successfully handled motorcycle accident injury claims since you can expect increased scrutiny from traffic officers and insurers over liability.
Safety Measures to Take
Riders need to take more safety measures than ordinary motorists since they are much more susceptible to being in an accident. Motorcyclists should consider the following to minimize their risk of being in an accident:
- Always wear a helmet. Massachusetts has a universal helmet law but some riders ignore it. Wearing a helmet substantially reduces your risk of suffering a traumatic head injury if not death. This means a full-face helmet and not one that does not cover your face.
- Wear appropriate clothing—if you are ejected from a bike, you are likely to suffer severe road rash or burns that can lead to skin surgery. Wear pants, a leather jacket, leather gloves, and riding boots at all times.
- Beware of blind spots and use your turn signal whenever changing lanes.
- Lane splitting is not legal in Massachusetts. If you are hit by another vehicle while riding in between lanes, you are likely to be both badly injured AND held totally at fault and not collect any compensation for your injuries.
- Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
- Avoid riding at night and in poor weather.
- Never ride if you were drinking alcohol or took drugs that can impair your judgement and that might cause you fatigue.
- Take measures to ensure that other motorists are aware of you.
- Riding in groups increases visibility.
- Take a rider safety course regardless of whether you are a beginner or veteran rider.
Retain a Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney from the Law Office of Burns and Jain
Police and insurers are often biased when it comes to who caused an accident between a motorcyclist and a passenger vehicle. By retaining the veteran law firm of Burns and Jain, you will be represented by a highly experienced and successful motor vehicle accident attorney who can give you the best opportunity for a favorable outcome. Call our office at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.