Over the last month, there have been at least four motorcycle accidents in the Mesa area, according to a KSAZ news report. While we are reaching the tail end of the peak-riding season in Arizona, there are still a number of collisions. Motorcycle safety experts are saying that the reason for this is that motorcyclists don’t take basic safety precautions such as wearing helmets and because drivers assume that just because motorcycles are smaller, they can quickly get out of harm’s way.
Motorcyclists in Arizona are squeezing a few final rides before we hit those high summer temps. But experts say when a motorcycle accident happens, it is normally the driver’s fault. We often see vehicles merging over or pulling out without properly looking out for motorcycles. In May, over just one week, there were four motorcycle crashes in the valley and two were fatal. In Arizona, there is no minimum requirement for motorcycle training hours. But, this might be the time for riders to ensure that they are properly equipped by taking safety courses and wearing the right type of helmet and safety gear.
The Risk of Riding a Motorcycle
While riding a motorcycle can be a lot of fun, it also comes with significant dangers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015, 4,976 people died in motorcycle accidents, which was up 8.3 percent from 4,594 in 2014. In 2015, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured, down 4.3 percent from 92,000 in 2014.
In 2015, motorcyclists were 29 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled and almost five times more likely to be injured. Also, motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, 4 percent of all people injured, 17 percent of all occupant (driver and passenger) fatalities and 4 percent of all occupants injured. In the year 2015, there were 8.6 million motorcycles on the road.
Tips for Motorcycle Safety
Buy the right bike. Don’t buy more bike than you can handle. If you have not been riding for a while, you may be surprised by the performance of the motorcycles sold today. Even models with small-displacement engines are notably faster and more powerful than they were 10 or 20 years ago. When you are shopping for a motorcycle, start with one that fits you. When you are seated, you should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground. Handlebars and controls should be within easy reach. If the bike feels too heavy, it is probably not the best choice.
Investing in antilock brakes is a good idea. Antilock brakes are now available on a wide array of models and are a proven lifesaver. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that motorcycles equipped with ABS brakes were 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes without it. This is because ABS helps the rider retain steering control during an emergency stop and it can be especially valuable in slippery conditions.
Improve your riding skills. Look for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course in your area. Such a class will teach you the basics as well as advanced techniques such as how to perform emergency maneuvers. These classes may be free or cost up to $350. Some motorcycle manufacturers offer a credit toward the cost of a new motorcycle or training if a rider signs up for an MSF course. They have more than 2,700 locations for such courses around the country.
Wear a helmet. Arizona law currently requires helmets only for riders or passengers who are under 18 years of age. However, it would be in your best interest to wear one as it has been proven to save lives and prevent catastrophic brain injuries. Riders without helmets are 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash and are three times more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries. If you are shopping for a helmet, a full-faced helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation is the best choice. You’ll find the DOT certification sticker on the helmet. Remember that helmets do deteriorate over time. Do not continue to use a helmet that has been damaged.
Wear the right gear. If you choose to dress in shorts, t-shirt or sandals when you ride a bike, you may be in for a painful disaster should you get into a motorcycle accident. For maximum protection, you need to go for a leather or other type of reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants and boots, even in the summer. Specially designed jackets with rugged padding and breathable mesh material provide protection and ventilation for riding in warm weather. You will also want eye protection such as a helmet visor or goggles. Choose your gear in bright colors so you are more visible to drivers.
Drive defensively. A recent study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation found that in crashes involving a motorcycle and a car, the drivers of cars were at fault 60 percent of the time. So, motorcyclists need to be extra alert especially in a time when texting and driving has risen to epidemic proportions. Keep an eye out for cars that are suddenly switching lanes or pulling out from driveways or side streets. Keep a safe following distance. Drive at a safe speed so you have enough time to react to obstacles in the roadway.
Avoid bad weather. When you are riding in slippery or treacherous conditions, your margin for error is much less. Rain can cut your visibility and reduce your tires’ grip on the road. If you need to ride in the rain, remember that the most dangerous time is right after the rain begins. Water can cause oil residue to rise to the top making it slippery. When riding in strong winds, be proactive and anticipate the potential push in the side by moving to the side of the lane from where the wind is coming. Ideally, do not ride your motorcycle in bad weather.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, make sure you file a police report and get prompt medical attention and treatment. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Mesa who will stay abreast of the official investigation and help ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected.