With warmer weather and summer on the way, motorcycle riders are starting to hit the road in increasing numbers, which makes sharing the road more important than ever. As motorists with the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles, motorcyclists have every right to travel our roads and highways safely. They also have an obligation to do their part in obeying the law and making safety a priority.
Unfortunately, making safety a priority does not always prevent motorcycle riders from being involved in preventable wrecks, especially when other motorists fail to uphold their legal obligation of taking reasonable measures to reduce risks. When it comes to preventable accident and injuries, however, riders do have important rights they can exercise in order to recover the compensation they need and deserve.
At McNabola & Associates, LLC, our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers have helped many riders after they suffered injuries in traffic accidents that could and should have been prevented. Because we have seen just how devastating motorcycle accidents can be for victims and their families, and because motorcycle wrecks pose such overwhelming risks of serious injuries and even death, our legal team wants to remind all local riders of some important steps they can take to protect themselves as they head out on the road this spring and summer.
Here are a few important motorcycle tips to remember:
- Intersection safety – Intersections are dangerous places for any motorist, and especially so for motorcycle riders who can be easily lost in the shuffle and overlooked by drivers. In addition to reducing speed, using turn signals, obeying traffic signs, and ensuring a driver sees you when approaching an intersection, you can further protect yourself by always entering an intersection with another vehicle on your right side. Even if you have to slow down in order for a passenger vehicle to catch up on your right, doing so will be your safest bet in an intersection because it provides protection and puts you closer to the center of the intersection. Riders making turns should also be patient and wait for a motorist on their right to enter the intersection and not “jack rabbit” out into traffic on unprotected turns.
- Visibility – Most motorcycle accidents involve motorists who say they never saw a rider. While it is their legal duty to be aware of their surroundings, riders should never blindly trust that a motorist sees them at all times, especially if a driver is distracted or otherwise negligent when behind the wheel. As such, it is important for riders to make themselves as visible as possible. This can be done by keeping your headlights on, using turn signals, wearing bright or reflective gear, and avoiding blind spots. Traveling in the right places on the road is also important. For example, riders are less likely to be overlooked when they ride in the leftmost side of a lane, near the dotted line.
- Make sure you are seen – In addition to making themselves visible to motorists, motorcycle riders should go one step further by making sure they are actually seen by a motorists before making any move on the road. This means not only being aware of your own surroundings, but also making sure to make eye contact with a motorist prior to switching lanes, entering intersections, or pulling into traffic.
- Wear a helmet – Wearing a helmet is no new advice, but it can mean the difference between life and death. Even though riders over the age of 21 are exempt from wearing a helmet, and while many neighboring states may also have lax helmet laws, riders should always wear a DOT-approved safety helmet. Because statistics continually show helmets save lives and prevent catastrophic injuries, helmet use among riders is steadily increasing.
- Ride sober – During spring and summer, many riders take time off for long road trips or celebrations on their bikes. While vacation time is certainly reason to celebrate, riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal, but extremely dangerous for riders and others around them. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that alcohol impairment was involved in close to half of all motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2014. Do your part to keep yourself and others safe by riding sober.
- Bike Maintenance – Whether you are breaking out the bike for the first time since winter or preparing for a long road trip, ensuring your bike is in proper working order and that no hazards are present is critical to your safety. Inadequately maintained bikes can significantly increase crash risks, making it important to look over all features of your bike, including the turn signals, tires, brakes, and lights. If you spot wear and tear or even potential defects, make sure they’re addressed before you hit the road.
While these tips are important to remember, they are crucial reminders that motorcycle riders face increased risks compared to passenger vehicles when on the road. Unfortunately, these risks sometimes manifest into accidents. When they do, injured riders and their families can find the support and experienced representation they need to secure compensation for their medical expenses, lost work wages, physical pain and suffering, future medical needs, and other damages by working with our award-winning legal team at McNabola & Associates, LLC.
To discuss a potential motorcycle accident case with an attorney from our firm, call (312) 888-8700 for a FREE consultation.