January 23, 2018
Why do Motorcyclists have a Higher Risk of Accident?
Traditional drivers of motor vehicles are protected by two tons of steel, seat belts, airbags, and a motor vehicle tested and designed to absorb the force of an impact. It’s not difficult to understand, therefore, why a motorcyclist would be at a greater risk of injury after an accident when compared to the driver of a car. In fact, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in personal injuries or even prove fatal to the rider, while only 30% of accidents result in injuries to car and truck drivers. However, just because a rider is more prone to injury after an accident does not explain why riders are at a higher risk of getting into an accident in the first place. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the increased risk of motorcycle accidents in Philadelphia, and despite the fact that lack of proper motorcycle training is a factor, the accident is not always the fault of the rider.
Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Handbook reports that a leading cause of motorcycle accidents and death in PA is alcohol. Other than alcohol and drug-related factors, however, one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is curving roads and sharp turns. If a curve is taken too quickly on a motorcycle, because your center of gravity is lower to the ground and the bike is lighter, it is easy to lose your balance and traction and spin out of control. This is especially likely if the ground is slick because there is less friction. This is not the case for traditional motor vehicles, which are substantially heavier than motorcycles and can take certain turns without fear of spinning out. Motor vehicles also have four tires that provide stability and traction, which is typically not the case for a bike. For these reasons, it is especially important to know your bike, including the pressure needed to be applied to your front and rear brakes, the center of gravity of the bike, how smooth your clutch and throttle are, the traction on your tires, and the hydraulic fluid levels for shock impact. Safety experts also recommend making sure that riders begin with a bike and engine that is right for their skill level. Riding the wrong bike or a bike you are not accustomed to or that is too big for you is also another leading cause of motorcycle accidents.
Pennsylvania Law and Motorcycle Accidents
Unlike motor vehicle laws that tend to be universal thought the states, different states have different types of motorcycle laws. For example, in some states riders can ride between lanes of traffic if it is safe to do so. It should be noted that Pennsylvania law grants motorcyclists the same right to use public roads and highways as drivers of traditional motor vehicles, but riders may not overtake and pass a vehicle when it is in the same lane occupied by that vehicle and they may not operate between lanes of traffic. Although these behaviors are permitted in some states and are especially tempting in high traffic conditions, they are illegal and dangerous to both riders and drivers in Philadelphia.
Motorcycle Accidents Due to Poor Maintenance
Another reason why motorcyclists have a high risk of accident is because of the dangerous maintenance woes of certain motorcycles. The following are among some of the most common maintenance concerns when it comes to riding, which can lead to motorcycle accidents:
- Debris Accumulation: the accumulation of sand, dirt, and road debris on the interior of your motorcycle can cause the corrosion of certain essential components, which may cause your bike to break down on the road. Most motorcycle maintenance regimens include extensive cleaning of exposed components;
- Poor Chain Lubrication: In order to prevent your bike’s chain from snapping or locking unexpectedly, you must ensure that your chains are constantly lubricated and free of debris. Sudden chain failure due to poor maintenance can cause major engine damage in the middle of a busy road, leading to a potentially fatal accident;
- Fuel System Failure: Because many motorcycles still use carburetors, if a fuel hose is not regularly replaced and maintained, it could cause fuel to leak from the gas tank and the fuel system to fail. This might result in a sudden accident coupled with fire resulting from the exposed fuel.
While not all maintenance failures are the fault of the rider, it is important to do your best to maintain your bike in order to reduce your risk of a maintenance-related accident.
Preventing Motorcycle Injuries
While in Pennsylvania, wearing a motorcycle helmet is optional for those over the age of 21 who have met certain qualifications, using the right gear can help prevent not only traumatic brain injuries but minor injuries and burns as well. The following gear is recommended for all those riding a motorcycle and in all weather conditions:
- Federally approved motorcycle helmet;
- Leather or synthetic gloves;
- A leather or motorcycle approved jacket;
- All weather eyewear;
- Long motorcycle pants, and
- Thick boots that cover your ankles.
Overall, you are taking a risk when you choose a motorcycle over a traditional motor vehicle, as you are trading maneuverability for exposure; however, there are steps you can take to help keep you safe on the road and prevent personal injuries. Taking extra precautions, such as signing up for optional extra rider safety courses and knowing what you can and can’t handle in a bike, can help you enjoy riding even more and avoid liability for a motorcycle accident.
Contact a Philadelphia Motorcycle Attorney for Questions
If you have a question about liability or the cause of a motorcycle accident, it is important to contact a personal injury and motorcycle attorney in your area who understands Pennsylvania motorcycle law and regulations. Further, if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident because another driver did not “share the road,” remember that you have rights as a rider, and the The Levin Firm can help fight for those rights. We are your premier motorcycle lawyers in the greater Philadelphia area, so please call today at 215-825-5183 for a free, no-risk consultation.