Motorcycle enthusiasts love the feeling of freedom they get when riding, and what better place to ride than San Francisco. A temperate climate and an abundance of natural, scenic beauty makes riding popular in the Bay area, both for recreation as well as for basic transportation needs. While motorcycling offers many benefits for aficionados, there are also inherent dangers that come with the territory. Motorcycles are outnumbered by cars on the road, and are at a definite disadvantage when it comes to being involved in accidents with motor vehicles. Motorcycles offer little in terms of protecting their riders, and motorcycle accidents often have serious and even tragic consequences. Before heading out on your next ride, be aware of the dangers, as well as the precautions you can take to avoid being involved in a motorcycle accident in San Francisco and everywhere else.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
According to the latest research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2013, and another 88,000 suffered serious injuries. Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to be killed in an accident than other drivers, and their injuries are often more severe and life threatening. Research from the NHTSA indicates that the most common types of motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Lower extremity injuries, such as broken legs, feet, knees, thighs and pelvic injuries;
- Head injuries, such as concussions and traumatic brain injury;
- Chest and abdominal injuries, such as puncture wounds, bruised and broken ribs, and internal bleeding; and
- Road rash or road burns, including multiple cuts and lacerations.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important to be aware that you are entitled by law to the same types of compensation as other drivers, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may be able to get compensation for your injuries through your own or an at-fault driver’s insurance company, or by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Motorcycle Accident Causes and Prevention
Studies conducted by the NHTSA indicate that while motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injuries and fatalities than other motorists, many accidents involving motorcycles result from many of the same causes found in other motor vehicle accidents. Driver inexperience, speeding, aggressive driving, drunk driving, and poor road conditions all contribute to the number of motorcycle accidents. In addition to these factors, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) also lists lack of visibility to other drivers as a major factor in many motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists can increase their visibility and decrease their chances of accident by following these tips from the MSF:
- Assume other vehicle cannot see you and act accordingly;
- Be careful not to ride in a car or truck’s blind spots;
- Use caution when changing lanes, and avoid driving on the inside or fast lane on major highways and interstates; and
- Use your headlights and taillights to increase your visibility to other drivers. Make sure your brake lights are working, use your turn indicators, and use your horn if you suspect other drivers do not see you.
In addition to the above, wearing a motorcycle helmet can significantly reduce your risk of being seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle helmets are not optional. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, all motorcycle operators in the state face mandatory motorcycle helmet requirements, requiring both drivers and passengers to wear helmets that comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Other safety equipment that can protect you and even help prevent motorcycle accidents include goggles, gloves, riding boots, long pants and jackets. Any additional layers of protection you can put between yourself and the road in the event of an accident can help to not only reduce injuries, but could actually save your life.