We’ve already heard of several fatal accidents involving motorcycles this year, so it’s not too soon for everyone to prepare themselves for a new season of motorcycle riding here in Maryland. Whether one is riding on the expressways serving our major cities, out on some rural two-lane or creeping through dense urban traffic, the opportunities for a severe roadway accident anywhere throughout the state are much higher for bikers than most any other motorist.
As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, I and my legal staff have seen the aftermath of many a tragic traffic collision; and certainly more than we would want anyone else to experience, especially not first-hand. Passenger car collisions, whether they involve a sedan, family minivan or larger sport utility vehicle, can result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries. The same can be said for roadway wrecks caused by commercial vehicles, such as city buses, 18-wheelers, large box trucks, and utility repair vehicles.
But as bad as car and trucking-related collisions can be, accidents involving any one of these vehicles and a motorcycle can be much, much worse; usually the person who is hurt the most is the rider on the bike. Even while wearing all the proper safety equipment — such as a correctly sized and certified helmet, motorcycle boots and gloves, plus a specialized riding suit, or leather chaps and motorcycle jacket — injuries sustained by a motorcyclist can range from painful, yet minor to severe and life-threatening.
Police agencies throughout the country are always interested in maintaining roadway safety. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when we read of the Anne Arundel County police department offering up some valuable advice for riders and four-wheel drivers alike. Warmer temperatures always bring out the fair-weather riders, who by their very nature do not venture out much during the colder winter season. For this group, a refresher course is never a bad idea.
Representatives for the county’s police department were quick to remind all drivers and motorcycle riders that the key to staying alive and uninjured on Maryland’s roadways is to follow safe driving procedures. This goes as much for bikers as it does for passenger car drivers and commercial truckers. The following tips were just a few of the many important things to remember when venturing out for the first time after the long winter:
Thoughts for Passenger Car Drivers
— Take the time to look – twice — before crossing or turning onto a roadway
— Be particularly cautious when merging on to busy highways
— Check and double check your vehicle’s blind spot before switching lanes
— Put your complete concentrate on the job at hand
— Eliminate or avoid all in-vehicle distractions
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
— Conduct a thorough safety check before mounting your bike and heading onto the road
— Always wear the proper riding and/or protective gear; use high-visibility clothing if possible
— Remember that your riding skills may have deteriorated over the winter
— Start slow and get back into good safety habits by making a run through the neighborhood
— Do some stretching, like an athlete, prior to riding to avoid muscle fatigue
— Keep in mind that motorists may not be used to seeing bikes following a long winter
— Look twice before making any maneuver
— Ride responsibly and within your skill level
Apparently, Anne Arundel County is taking rider safety rather seriously. Based on the news article that we ran across, the department is planning to spearhead a statewide motorcycle safety initiative that will likely be announced in the coming months. This is a promising move, since motorcyclists are consistently over-represented in the fatality column of the state’s traffic accident statistics.
One thing that was said, which rings true to us as well, is that the ability to see motorcycles — and therefore avoid tragic accidents — is a shared activity and responsibility. In other words, the best way to be seen is to make oneself visible to other drivers. That’s some good advice that could save more than a few bikers’ lives as we head into the new riding season. Stay safe out there.
Anne Arundel County police offer motorcycle safety tips, WBALTV.com, March 20, 2013
Police stress motorcycle safety as warm weather approaches, CapitalGazette.com, March 17, 2013