May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month!
Motorcyclists have been revving up their engines for months, waiting for the first sign that warm weather was here to stay. As eager and ready as these riders were to hit the roads this Spring, drivers of other motor vehicles may not have been as prepared.
Just this past April, three motorcycle fatalities occurred in Connecticut in a matter of three days. On April 24, the driver and passenger of a motorcycle in Torrington were killed when their bike collided with a pickup truck on Route 4. Two days later on April 26, a motorcycle rider from Plainfield was killed in a crash with another pickup truck when the bike collided with the rear end of the vehicle.
Every year, thousands of motorcycle riders and their passengers lose their lives to preventable accidents on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (I.I.H.S.), there were a total of 5,172 motorcycle fatalities reported in 2017, accounting for 14 percent of all motor vehicle deaths across the country for that year. While some of these fatal accidents involved only the motorcycles, 3,216 of the reported deaths resulted from accidents involving other cars and trucks sharing the roads- vehicles that could easily overpower a motorcycle in any situation.
May is the unofficial start of motorcycle season and the official beginning of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. To help protect the lives of all motorcycle riders on the road, Connecticut drivers must do their due diligence to be educated, stay alert, and safely share the roads this season.
Motorcycle Crashes In Connecticut
In 2015, the Connecticut Department of Transportation reported 1,590 motorcycle crashes across the state, with 53 fatalities resulting from these accidents. One-third of the accidents (33.58%) that occurred involved single vehicles. The remainder of the accidents included the following types:
- Rear End (26.6%)
- Angle (18.49%)
- Sideswipe, Same Direction (8.62%)
- Sideswipe, Different Direction (3.02%)
- Head On (1.51%)
- Rear to Side (1.19%)
- Rear to Rear (0.25%)
- Other (6.10%)
- Unknown (0.63%)
Accident reports showed that most crashes occurred on Saturdays and Sundays in the early afternoon from noon to 4 p.m., and mostly between the months of June and September. In Connecticut, this is prime time motorcycle riding weather, as rain and snow are much less likely during this time of the year.
Why Motorcycles Are So Dangerous
Motorcycle riders love the feeling of freedom when on their bikes. Unfortunately, this experience leaves them with little protection in the case of an accident. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) reports that 80 percent of motorcycle accidents end in serious injuries and fatalities. Motorcycles crashes are far more dangerous than other motor vehicle accidents for several reasons, including:
- Ejections: Most riders who are in an accident are ejected from their bike and sustain catastrophic and fatal injuries from the impact.
- Occupant Protection: There are no airbags, seatbelts, doors, windows or a roof to keep riders contained and protected in a crash.
- Two Wheels: Cars and trucks have four plus wheels that make these vehicles more stable than motorcycles who are operating on only two.
- Maneuverability: Though motorcycles are not as stable, they can change positions quickly and swiftly, causing drivers to easily hit them if they are not staying alert.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Understanding how motorcycle accidents happen is the first step to preventing them. When examining single and multiple vehicles crashes separately, the N.H.T.S.A. identifies these as the common causes leading to fatal motorcycle accidents:
- Lack of experience: Some riders are not familiar with the bike they are riding or licensed to operate a motorcycle safely.
- Bad weather: Even veteran riders can lose control of their bike if the weather conditions cause slippery roads or low visibility.
- Negligent drivers: Reports of single vehicles accidents involving motorcycles do not eliminate the possibility that other cars were involved in causing the crash. Drivers who swerve into motorcycles or cause them to veer off the road into stationary objects may not even realize they had a hand in the accident if they are not paying attention.
- Stationary objects: Motorcycles riders who lose control of their bikes may strike stationary objects such as curbs, poles, guardrails, trees, or medians than result in horrific injuries and often instant death.
- Neglecting to look: Drivers of cars and trucks can easily hit motorcycles when they fail to look before turning, changing lanes, or entering/exiting the highway.
- Distracted driving: Drivers who fall victim to distracted driving may not see a motorcycle quickly (but legally) coming up beside them or switching into their lane.
- Blind spots: Motorcycles can fit into a driver’s blind spot if they are not paying attention to the vehicles around them before they make a move.
- Less visibility: Some larger cars and trucks have a hard time seeing motorcycles because of their height and mirror positions.
Most Common Motorcycle Injuries
When motorcyclists are injured in a crash, their injuries are rarely minor. Riders can suffer a range of injuries to the head, back, legs, arms, and torso all from the same accident, such as:
- traumatic head injuries
- spinal cord damage
- broken bones and fractures
- muscle damage
- internal organ injuries
- skin and nerve damage
Depending on the angle and level of trauma inflicted on the body during an accident, motorcyclists can sustain injuries that leave them with permanent disabilities such as brain damage or paralysis. In other cases, injuries are so traumatic that riders succumb to them completely. When a rider is injured or killed in an accident, their lives or the lives of their loved ones will never be the same. Catastrophic injuries lead to a plethora of consequences financially, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and socially- and all from preventable accidents.
For Drivers: How To Share The Road
If you haven’t been paying attention to motorcycles on the road, now is the time to start. May to September is the busiest season for motorcycles. Following these simple safety tips from Esurance every time you are on the road can help you save lives and protect riders from unnecessary injuries:
- Maintain space: Use the 4-second rule when keeping distance between you and a motorcycle to provide ample time to stop or monitor their movements.
- Know the weather: If your car is having trouble on slippery roads, motorcycles are having an even harder time. Understand how weather conditions affect motorcycle riders to anticipate their movements.
- Check your mirrors: Never do a blind turn or lane change- ever. Look before you turn, change lanes, enter/exit a highway, or pass any vehicles. Know the right of way laws so you do not make a fatal error in an intersection.
- Check your blind spots: Motorcycles naturally fit directly into a car’s blind spot. Know this fact and make sure you are checking your blind spot every time you make a move.
For Riders: How To Stay Safe
We know you like to ride carefree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be careful. If you are licensed and trained to ride, Geico has some excellent safety recommendations to help keep you safe on the road:
- Wear your helmet: Despite what some believe, a helmet does matter. Helmets reduce the chance for fatal head injuries up to 37 percent and serious head injuries up to 67 percent according to I.I.H.S..
- Wear protective gear: Wearing protective clothing can help reduce the risk of burns and skin damage from the road in an accident.
- Know the traffic rules: Following the traffic rules will prevent you from getting into an accident caused by drivers who are paying attention. If your actions are easier to predict, it is easier for them to see you coming.
- Ride defensively: Don’t assume other vehicles see you or where you are going. Make your presence known.
- Stay awake and sober: It’s even more dangerous to rider drowsy or drunk than it is to drive a vehicle- don’t take the chance.
- Be prepared: Make sure your bike is in working condition to avoid maintenance issues on the road. Essential functions to check include tires, lights, signals, brakes, clutch and throttle, mirrors, and horn.
We want you to enjoy a safe and happy riding season. For more information on safe riding resources in your area, visit the Department of Transportation’s websitefor class and statistics about motorcycle in Connecticut.