May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and groups like the National Safety Council sponsor programs every year to educate motorists about sharing the road with motorcyclists. A common cause of fatal motorcycle accidents is a driver’s failure to see a biker until it is too late to avert a collision. All too often, the driver claims to have never seen the motorcycle.
Car and truck drivers need to remember to pay attention to intersections, look over their shoulders before merging, and never tailgate a motorcycle. Bikes can stop much more quickly than cars, and a rear impact at high speed is one of the deadliest motorcycle accident scenarios.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation provides five basic ideas that motorists should keep in mind while driving on Ohio streets and highways:
- Focus on driving, not electronics, food, pets, passengers and other distractions
- Look for motorcyclists at all times – they are smaller and much harder to see, especially in traffic
- Provide a safe buffer for bikers, maintain a safe following distance and merge carefully
- Always signal your intentions and make sure your brake lights, turn signals and horn are in good working order
- Never throw trash like cigarette butts out the window – road debris kills riders, so make sure transported items are well secured
The Ohio State Highway Patrol provides some sobering statistics about motorcycle accidents in Ohio. Over the past three years, crashes involving motorcycles led to 542 fatalities and over 11,400 injuries statewide. In all too many of those cases, a moment’s mistake by another driver caused irreparable harm.
Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Mark the Start of Summer in Ohio
Motorcycle safety awareness helps to make the world safer for riders, but defective motorcycle parts, road construction hazards and other circumstances can also turn a summer ride into tragedy. In recent weeks, several motorcycle accidents took the lives of Ohio riders:
- A retired Ohio police officer en-route to the Peace Officer’s Memorial Day Service in Washington, D.C., died at Ohio State Medical Center after a collision with an SUV driven by an unlicensed driver
- A motorcycle passenger was killed when a car reportedly pulled into the path of a bike near Warren, Ohio
- A 21-year-old rider from Wellington suffered fatal chest injuries when a truck he was passing turned into his path
- Cincinnati police sought witnesses to a fatal accident on northbound 471 involving a lone rider who struck a concrete wall
Motorcycle accidents are particularly common in the weeks after Memorial Day, and summer weather provides ample opportunities for riders to tour the countryside or save gas money as a motorcycle commuter. By riding defensively and practicing other safe strategies, bikers can improve their chances of avoiding a serious motorcycle accident. But sometimes the hazards are beyond their control.
Driver Negligence: Holding Reckless and Intoxicated Motorists Accountable
Even riders who take every precaution to ride safely and keep their bikes in good working order face serious risks when they ride. A truck driver’s lapse of judgment or an impatient commuter’s aggressive maneuvers can quickly put a rider in harm’s way.
When dangerous habits cause catastrophic injuries or a wrongful death, injury victims and surviving family members should pursue legal action to obtain fair compensation for medical expenses, lost income and other damages. An Ohio motorcycle accident lawyer can provide a helpful assessment of the legal options and prospects for recovery.
By investigating all aspects of driver negligence – road conditions, drunk driving, brake failure, driver distraction and all insurance coverage in a motorcycle crash – a personal injury attorney can help a client consider all available evidence and sources of compensation. While safety awareness cannot protect all riders, civil justice provides a powerful means to address the harms and losses caused by avoidable accidents.