Motorcyclists face the unfair stigma that they are reckless and aggressive drivers, which often leads to the conclusion that they are at fault after a Maryland motorcycle crash. In reality, most motorcyclists are generally safe drivers. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one-half of all motorcycle crashes involve another motor vehicle. Almost 40 percent were caused by the other vehicle turning left in front of the motorcyclist. Further, according to the NHTSA, when motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the other (non-motorcycle) driver who violates the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. In fact, in two-vehicle crashes involving passenger cars and motorcycles, 35 percent of the driver-related factor was the failure to yield the right-of-way compared to only 4 percent of motorcyclists who failed to yield the right-of-way.
A non-motorcycle driver may violate a motorcyclist’s right-of-way for various reasons. For example, motorcycles are smaller and may be less noticeable and more easily obscured, such as in a larger vehicle’s blind spot. Non-motorcycle drivers also may not be accustomed to motorcyclists’ movements and driving with them in general. Yet, motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as other vehicles on roadways. Motorcyclist advocates say that other drivers should look out for motorcyclists and educate themselves about motorcycles and how to drive safely with them in the roadway. To drive safely with motorcyclists, other drivers are supposed to allow motorcyclists a full lane width to allow motorcyclists to maneuver safely.
Unfortunately, motorcyclists are over-represented in traffic crashes and fatalities throughout the United States. According to the NHTSA, almost 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in 2018. Motorcyclists are about 28 times as likely as occupants in cars to die in a motor vehicle crash. In addition, seemingly minor crashes can result in serious injuries for a motorcyclist. But while insurance companies and juries may be quick to blame motorcyclists for causing the accidents, the stigma against motorcyclists can be overcome. For example, investigation after a crash, accident reconstruction, discovery tools, and litigation are some of the ways experienced legal advocates can build evidence in a party’s favor after a crash in order to hold the negligent party responsible. Injured motorcyclists should seek the compensation that they deserve if they are injured in a crash, despite any stigma they may face in the claims process and in court.