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Did you know that Ohio ranks fourth in the country for motorcycle use? More than 400,000 bikes are registered in the Buckeye state alone. While that should mean that Ohio is a friendly place to ride and that cars are more aware of bikes, motorcycle accidents in Ohio are, unfortunately, far too common a problem.
In 2013, there were 133 motorcycle fatalities. Fast-forward to 2016, and that number jumped to a high of 200, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol statistics. Since more than 4,300 motorcycles were involved in traffic accidents in Ohio in 2016 alone — making them more common than bus or van crashes and about on-par with non-motorist involved accidents — it pays to be mindful of what’s causing motorcyclists to become injured or injure others.
With many new opportunities to take a bike for a spin or to share the road with more motorcyclists, it’s important to understand what you can do to decrease the chances of being involved in a life-changing accident. Below, we’ll go over some of the most common causes for motorcycle accidents in Ohio, how we might be able to prevent them, and ways to get help if you or a loved one have been in an accident.
Causes of Serious Ohio Motorcycle Accidents
Nationally, motorcycle crashes claim the lives of over 4,500 riders each year — if you’re doing the math, that means Ohio incidents make up nearly 5% of all U.S. motorcycle fatalities. An astonishing 80% of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics. Motorcyclist deaths also occur 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles.
What follows are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents not just in Ohio, but around the country.
Lack of Training and Gear
It’s not enough to know only the basics of operating the bike. Comprehensive safety for motorcycle riders is imperative to their very survival on the open roads. Failing to take care on the streets or avoiding wearing a helmet could be a fatal mistake. As reported by the NHTSA, 37 out of every 100 motorcycle operators could be saved if all 100 of those riders had been wearing helmets at the time of the accident. But the good news is that helmet use is up: 64% of riders used Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle helmets in 2015, up from 60% in 2014.
Drinking and Riding
Whether you’re a motorcyclist or another vehicle operator, drinking and driving or drugged driving should always be avoided — a whopping 43% of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2014 were alcohol-impaired, according to the NHTSA. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you’re fine to get behind the wheel. Aside from the risks of danger for yourself, having to live with the knowledge that a critical accident could have been prevented is challenging at best and unbearable at the worst.
Going too Quickly on Turns
This can be a devastating choice for someone new to riding who is not yet comfortable making turns at fast speeds. A lack of appropriate practice can play out in a catastrophic accident. A motorcyclist who hits gravel or simply loses control of the bike on a curve could spin out and cause serious accidents.
While life-threatening on curves, speeding in general is involved in far too many serious motorcycle accidents. Pay attention to posted speed limits and adjust them on your own based on road conditions and weather.
Changing Lanes in Front of a Motorcyclist
Both riders and vehicle drivers have a responsibility to share the road with one another. When a car suddenly cuts off a motorcycle rider, the rider might be rear-ended because he or she has to stop short. The rider also might swerve as a result and strike another vehicle. Both bikers and car drivers should leave plenty of room in front of them, use turn signals, and avoid being placed in a blind spot.
Making Turns in Front of a Rider
A vehicle making any kind of turn with a motorcyclist or even a bicyclist in the next lane is dangerous. Sudden movements can be difficult for a rider, who might not have time to adapt and avoid the accident. That’s why it’s imperative to share the road by using caution when making turns in any direction. The right signaling and checking carefully before moving forward could help to prevent an accident.
How to Prevent a Motorcycle Crash
Whether you’re a motorcycle rider, a vehicle driver, or both, there are steps you can take to make the road a safer place. The first is to be more aware of your surroundings, including motorcyclists, and the second is to take steps to protect yourself. For motorcyclists, the most important component would be wearing a helmet.
However, even with a helmet on, motorcycle riders and passengers are more exposed to the elements than a traditional vehicle passenger. Being thrown from the bike could cause fatal injuries aside from any traumatic head injury. The stakes are even higher when any party involved in the accident was speeding or drinking.
Additional protection for motorcyclists includes leather jackets, gloves, trousers, proper footwear, and eye protection. Being properly licensed and educated will leave you with the most control over your vehicle. Motorcycle rider-training courses near you can be found by calling the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at (800) 446-9227.
And, just like when driving a car, making sure your motorcycle is in top condition before hitting the road could save a life. The NHTSA recommends checking tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights and signal indicators, fluid levels, and signs of potential oil or gas leaks. Secure and balance any cargo load and adjust the suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight.
When carrying a passenger on your motorcycle, they should always mount only after the engine has started and sit as far forward as possible directly behind you with both feet on the footrests. He or she also should keep their legs and feet away from the muffler and hold on firmly to your waist or belt, and lean at the same time and in the same direction as you do.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured
Despite our best attempts at preventing accidents, they do happen. If you or your loved one has been involved in a motorcycle crash in Ohio, you’ll want to retain the services of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to help you with your legal case. At Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.