Motorcycle riders have a tough job. Not only must they pilot a powerful, two-wheeled machine around traffic, over varying road surfaces and through poor weather, they must also be prepared for the unexpected. For most bikers, this often comes in the form of distracted parents in minivans filled to the gunwales with screaming kids, teenage drivers with one eye on their smartphone screen and the other on their friends, or the random drunken driver who rolls through a stop sign at just the wrong moment.
With all the dangers on the road conspiring to kill or seriously injure Maryland motorcyclists, it’s amazing riders don’t die simply from fright. Of course, we’re being sarcastic, but the fact remains that many riders, even experienced bikers, are hurt every month in traffic accidents in places like Bowie, the Disctrict, Gaithersburg and Annapolis. As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, we have spoken to riders who have sustained terrible injuries resulting from roadway collisions caused by negligent or thoughtless motorists.
Being hit by a passenger car, or worse, colliding with a commercial delivery truck is something that every motorcycle rider must prepare himself for. It may never happen, but if the situation arises, being ready for the unexpected could help to save that riders life. And while passenger car drivers may have the same worries about being involved in a bad trucking-related traffic wreck or having a drunk driver make a left-hand turn directly in front of one’s vehicle, keep in mind that bikers also have to watch out for things that a four-wheel driver hardly considers a danger.
Unfortunately, every motorcycle rider has to observe even the smallest things that could cause his bike to lose traction or be upset to the point of throwing him off. Squirrels and small dogs are suspect, but large dogs and other animals can cause serious problems for a rider going quickly on any roadway. In fact, this time of year deer encounters can be especially dangerous for bikers all over the state.
According to a news report, a study performed by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that, over the course of a three-year period, more than 85 percent of people who were killed in fatal traffic collisions involving a deer were motorcycle riders. The study included statistics pulled from the motor vehicle accident logs in both Maryland and Virginia. This rate actually exceeds the national average, according to the AAA, which said that nationwide 70 percent of fatal deer impacts involved motorcyclists.
This is actually not too hard to imagine, since when a deer is hit by a larger passenger car, the animal takes the brunt of the impact. With the occupants typically inside the vehicle, the chances of being hit by the animal are usually low as well. However, when a motorcycle collides with a relatively large deer, both the animal and the biker could suffer equally from the impact.
Much of this goes to the relative vulnerability of the riders and passengers on bikes. Basically exposed to the elements, a motorcycle rider cannot rely on the mass and structure of his vehicle for protection in the same way that the driver of a four-wheeled passenger car or SUV can. Just look at a few of the incidents compiled by the AAA researchers:
— In September 2011, a Maryland biker was killed when a deer jumped into the roadway near Glen Burnie and caused a three-vehicle crash; the passenger riding on the back was critically injured
— In August 2011, an Arlington County, VA, rider was killed when his Harley-Davidson hit a deer in Fairfax County
— In August 2011, a motorcyclist was killed and his passenger was injured when the bike they were travelling on hit a deer on Route 702
— In April 2011, a West Ocean City biker died his motorcycle hit a deer in Bishopville, MD
— In May 2010, a Frederick County man was killed in a fatal deer collision after his bike collided with the animal in Clarke County, VA
Deer take a fatal toll on motorcyclists, WashingtonPost.com, October 8, 2012