Careless Drivers and Fatal Motorcycle Crashes

Watch for motorcycles.

That’s the theme for a month-long campaign from the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.  It’s the Show Me State’s complement to May’s National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, an effort to reduce the country’s fatal motorcycle crashes as the weather gets warmer and more bikers hit the road.

In 2017, the most recent national statistics, more than 5,000 motorcyclists died in traffic crashes. That’s an increase of about 13 percent since 2014.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety reports that 107 motorcyclists died in Missouri in 2018. Of all of fatal traffic accidents in Missouri that year, 11 percent were motorcycle crashes.

Fatal Motorcycle Crashes in St. Louis

Last year during National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, four motorcyclists were killed in the St. Louis area, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting.  And most of the crashes were caused by a car turning in front of the motorcycle.

This matches with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which reports that most fatal motorcycle crashes are caused by another driver. The MSF is a non-profit organization promoting motorcycle safety primarily through biker training and education programs.

Motorcycles are harder to see on the road than other vehicles for obvious reasons. Other drivers must pay special attention when sharing the road with motorcyclists, being extra careful to constantly check mirrors and blind spots for bikers.

Distracted Drivers Who Cause Motorcycle Accidents

This fact may be one reason for the increase in recent years for fatal motorcycle crashes in Missouri and across the country.  More people are driving distracted; paying more attention to their cell phones to text and drive than they are to other vehicles around them.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 9 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2017 were caused by distracted drivers.

Logically, distracted drivers are less likely to responsibly account for motorcycles traveling near them than drivers who are focused on the road.

According to a website for motorcycle enthusiasts, RideApart.com, the most common motorcycle accident is when another driver turns left in front of a motorcyclist.  This typically means that driver was inattentive.

The website goes on to list the top 10 most common motorcycle accidents. Likely negligence by other drivers are also responsible for two more out of the top five:

·         A car changes lanes into the motorcycle

·         A car crashes into a motorcyclist from behind

So what should other drivers do beyond putting down their cell phones to avoid endangering motorcyclists?

The NHTSA suggests that drivers:

·         Allow motorcyclists the full width of lanes always; never force your way into the lane with them

·         Use turn signals when merging into traffic or changing lanes to guard against dangerously pulling in front of motorcyclists

·         Check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or turning

Because motorcyclists are harder to see than cars is precisely the reason other drivers should be ever vigilant as we enter motorcycle driving season. When they are not, the consequences for motorcyclists and their families can be catastrophic.

If you or a family member were driving a motorcycle and were hit and critically injured by another driver, speak to a personal injury lawyer about pursuing just compensation from those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog May 9, 2019