Local Attorneys. Real Results

How fearful about safety should motorcyclists and bicyclists be?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

As summer is finally in full swing in New York State, more people are choosing to take to the roads on motorcycles and bicycles. This is particularly true on the scenic roads in upstate New York. Despite the positives that accompany enjoying the freedom of riding a bike or motorcycle, there are fundamental dangers that are getting progressively worse.

Since riders have little to no protection, they can suffer catastrophic injuries and lose their lives in an accident. With the number of drivers of passenger vehicles and trucks who are ignoring basic laws such as adhering to the speed limit, shunning distraction and getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using drugs, it places these vulnerable road users at greater risk. There are strategies to enhance safety, but that will not prevent all crashes. Being prepared is vital.

Anecdotal and statistical evidence shows risks for riders

Motorcycle and bicycle crashes are a growing problem. The National Transportation Safety Administration keeps detailed statistics for auto accidents. Its most recent comprehensive numbers are for 2022. Across the United States, there were around 6,000 motorcyclist fatalities. This was the worst total in nearly 40 years. New York bicyclists were also in jeopardy. For that year, there were more than 7,500 bike crashes with 50 people losing their lives.

To try and avoid these collisions, there are strategies riders are advised to take. For bicyclists, wearing a helmet is one of the simplest things they can do to prevent a head injury if there is an accident. Over 50% of those who had a crash in the above statistics did not have a helmet. Twenty-eight of the fatalities were not wearing one.

Bicyclists should also remember the value of following the rules of the road just as drivers are expected to. That includes stopping at stop signs; riding with the flow of traffic; and signaling. For extra safety, they should make sure they are visible, wear reflective clothing at night and do their best to keep a sight-related accident possibility to a minimum.

The roads are even more dangerous for motorcyclists as they are riding in areas like highways where bicyclists are not. Of course, a helmet is imperative for motorcyclists. However, many riders stop with having a helmet and do not realize how other types of protective gear can help them avoid severe injury. That includes gloves, boots, riding pants and jackets.

The biggest challenge for most riders is not their own decisions, but how drivers of passenger vehicles and trucks behave on the road. Drivers might ignore riders and refuse to drive any differently when sharing the road with them. Failing to check their mirrors when doing something as rudimentary as opening their door when they have parked can cause a “dooring” accident that is a common cause of massive injuries to riders. Naturally, putting their cellphone out of reach, being sober and sticking to the speed limit are critical to being safe.

All riders should be prepared if they are in a crash

Despite campaigns to inform people of the importance of adhering to fundamental safety principles when sharing the road with a motorcyclist or bicyclist, the reality is that motor vehicle accidents are going to happen with people suffering massive, life-changing injuries and even losing their lives. Medical expenses, professional obstacles, families needing to decide how to move forward and other issues will come to the forefront.

After this type of accident, there are steps that must be taken to gauge what happened and why; the extent of the injuries; how long it will take to recover; how much of a recovery possible; the financial cost and more.