Motorcycle riders are certainly a group unto their own. There are no doubt many average passenger car drivers who consider anyone riding a Yamaha, Harley, Honda or Ducatti cycle to be a rebel hell-bent on destruction. To the contrary, as motorcycle accident lawyers, my firm understands that not every biker is a rebel in this way; instead most motorcycle riders are individualists who take the risk of their pastime in stride, if only because they enjoy the feeling of freedom and being apart from the crowd.
Common misperceptions aside, motorcycle riders — as well as motor-scooter users — are usually rather safety conscious; perhaps even more so than the typical car, SUV or truck driver, because their lives are on the line, not just the sheetmetal of their vehicle. Talk to most any motorcyclist and you may begin to understand the combination of passion and risk management that keeps these people riding year after year.
But as we all know, whether here in the Baltimore area, Frederick, Hagerstown or Washington, D.C., traffic collisions between motorcycles and cars, as well as accidents involving commercial trucks, happen more often than anyone would like. For a biker, even a minor crash can result in some serious and painful bodily injuries. Road rash, cuts and bruises and dislocated joints are usually the least of one’s problems following a motorcycle crash.
Instances where a bike is hit by a car or truck traveling at highway speeds, the results can be catastrophic for the rider, not to mention his passenger. While every rider in Maryland is required by law to wear a helmet, this is not a guarantee that one will not be serious or critically injured in a traffic wreck. Police agencies and safety experts alike believe that helmets give a biker that extra margin of survivability in a crash, but head, neck and spinal injuries are still common.
It has often been said that as a motorist gets older, what is lost in reflexes and reaction time is more than offset by experience and driving know-how. But it is important to remember that older motorcycle riders have what some authorities say is a greater chance of death following a collision, than a younger rider. For this reason alone, it may be wise to consider the risks as one moves up in age, at least as far as the more riskier times to ride — in poor weather conditions, riding at night, or operating in densely-packed urban traffic.
Based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in past years, some bikers traveling throughout the District and other nearby municipalities have been caught in more than a few fatal crashes. While winter is upon us, the few opportunists out there may consider going out on a dry day with dangerous consequences. Also, with the economy still sputtering along, many motorcycle riders continue to use their bikes for needed transportation whenever possible in order to save on higher auto insurance costs and rising gasoline prices.
Accidents are bound to happen, more so when passenger car and truck drivers are least expecting to encounter a bike on our highways or surface streets. Some of the more common causes of bike accidents include rider inexperience, lack of visibility, other drivers’ inattention or distracted driving, alcohol use, misjudging a traffic situation, poor road surface conditions, and even defective vehicle components.
There’s always more to discuss about this subject, but suffice it for now to say, be careful and ride defensively. There is no deadline, no errand, no get-together more important than one’s own life. Take your time, use your commonsense, and arrive alive.