Motorcycle Accidents: How they happen and what you can do to avoid them.

by John McKiggan

Motorcycle Accident Compensation Claims

I am in the middle of preparing for a trial involving a motorcyclist (my client) who was injured in a motorcycle – car collision. The driver of the car made a left turn in front of my client while my client was driving through a green light. The injuries the motorcycle rider suffered were more serious than you tend see in a typical car-car collision.

While motorcycle collision cases form a relatively small part of the cases I am asked to handle, the injuries in those cases tend to be more severe and complicated. So if you spend any time on the road, as I’m sure all of you do, here is some important information regarding motorcycles and motorcycle injuries.

Scary Statistics

According to Transport Canada there are only 595,000 registered motor cycles in Canada (less than 3% of the total vehicles on the road). But motorcycles account for 9% of the road fatalities and 11% of the serious injuries (2009 figures).

The fact is that a much higher percentage of people who ride motor cycles suffer unfortunate injuries, than regular passenger vehicle users. Traffic studies show a significant percentage of motor cycle accidents are caused by collisions with other vehicles. Most commonly this involves a car or truck making a left-turn without noticing a motorcycle traveling straight.

Helmets Making a Difference

I think everyone understands that helmets help prevent serious head and brain injuries. What many people don’t realize is that helmets also help reduce the risks of spinal cord injury: Nova Scotia Motor Cycle Injury Claims – Helmets Reduce Spinal Cord Injuries

Unfortunately in some jurisdictions in the United States helmets are still not mandatory and helmet use is estimated to be as low as 54%. Even in Canada, where every province has mandatory helmet laws, helmet use is still not 100%.

Be Safe!

The Canada Safety Council provides a motorcycle rider training program (“Gearing Up“) with online, in-class and on-bike training.

The description of the program states:

Students are taken from basic skills such as balancing the motorcycle, through correct use of brakes, proper procedures for starting a motorcycle to use of the clutch and control of the motorcycle at slow speeds. As confidence increases students are introduced to the use of the transmission and corner negotiating techniques. Moving on to more demanding exercises students will learn how to avoid collisions through the correct application of emergency braking and counter steering techniques.

Slow Down

While speeding is never good, it poses exceptional risks when it comes to motorcyclists. According to Transport Canada, 90% of the time that a motorcyclist is killed or seriously injured in a speed-related crash, the motorcyclist was the person responsible for the speeding.

Sober Up!

Similarly, Transport Canada states that 33% of fatally injured motorcyclists were drinking prior to the crash and 25% of them had blood alcohol levels over the legal limit.

While drinking and driving is a serious concern for all drivers, these statistics show that the dangers posed by drinking and driving increases significantly for motorcyclists than for regular passenger vehicles.

Some Good Advice

Whether you are a motorcyclist or you just share the road with them, here are some safety tips to remember:

Motorcyclists have rights on the road. Give them the room that you would expect to give to a car. (It might even be a good idea to give even more room when following a motorcycle, so you have enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency).

Watch for motorcyclists heading straight before making left turns.

Stay sober!

Slow down – avoid speeding!

Avoid distracted driving (talking on cell phone, changing stations on the radio, etc.)

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