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Why Are Motorcycle Accidents Often Deadly

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a caller who wants to know why motorcycle crashes are frequently more deadly than other types of crashes.

Great question. The answer is a combination of several factors:

Drivers who drive defensively typically are safer because they are aware of their surroundings. In other words, they look out for other vehicles and take steps to avoid those other vehicles.

But not all vehicles are equal when it comes to perceivability of the vehicle.

Motorcycles are small and difficult to perceive by the human eye when we quickly glance around us. Motorcycles, of course, are not invisible, but they do not register in our awareness as, say, a large truck or a train.

That’s why some states have laws requiring motorcycle headlights to be illuminated at all times while the motorcycle is operating on the highway. The headlight makes for a better perception of the object.

Of course, a small vehicle can easily occupy a blind spot in a driver’s mirror. Even cars with blind-spot detection equipment may have difficulty registering a motorcycle in a blind spot.

But, besides being small and difficult to see, motorcycles are missing some critical safety equipment. When was the last time you saw a motorcycle equipped with an airbag? Or a shock-absorbing front or rear bumper?

A motorcyclist hit by a car or a truck has limited protection. Sure, a helmet may help protect the head, but nothing is protecting your arms or legs or the rest of your body.

Even skateboarders wear elbow guards. If a motorcyclist simply had on the same equipment worn by NFL lineman, they would fair much better against injuries such as:

  • TBI (short for traumatic brain injury)
  • spinal injuries, and
  • complex fractures

So, given these factors, what is a safe motorcyclist to do?

  1. Drive defensively.
  2. Operate with headlights on at all times.
  3. Wear padded clothing.
  4. Wear reflective clothing at night.
  5. Stay completely away from alcohol or other mind-altering substances.
  6. Wear a helmet.
  7. Make sure the motorcycle has good brakes.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.