Most people who have ridden motorcycles will tell you that it is a uniquely fun experience. But unfortunately, being on a motorcycle can be a dangerous experience as well. On average, there are 5,500 motorcyclists killed every year and more than 180,000 motorcyclists treated in emergency rooms for injuries. Connecticut usually sees 50 deaths a year, but that number has increased in the last several years.
Many motorcycle crash injuries and deaths are preventable. Wearing a helmet is the best way to save lives and prevent serious injuries. In Connecticut, wearing a helmet is not required by the law. It is only required for drivers or passengers under the age of 18 and people driving a motorcycle on a learner's permit. Research has shown that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 69%. I recently represented a young motorcyclist who was in an accident without a helmet. The client suffered a traumatic brain injury that required extensive medical treatment and will likely be impacting his life for many years to come.
There Are Several General Tips to Consider when Being out On Your Motorcycle:
- Slow down. Speed is often a factor in traffic accidents and may actually be the main factor in the cause of accidents. The faster you are driving the less time you have to react and avoid an accident.
- Check your blind spots: Motorcycles are smaller than cars, trucks and other vehicles on the road and may be more difficult to spot.
- Take extra caution when passing: Make sure you're several car lengths ahead of a bike before returning to your lane, and always signal when passing.
- Weather can affect bikes differently: Foul weather can make motorcycles harder to see and can have a greater effect on riders than drivers in cars.
- Be careful at night: Give bikes extra room after dark, and try not to high-beam riders as you pass.
- Give bikes a full lane width to ride in: Cars are prohibited from driving in the same lane of travel as a bike. The only exception is two bikes may occupy the same lane of travel in Connecticut— such as motorcycles traveling in formation.
- Signal turns sooner: signal your intention to turn sooner for a motorcycle than you would with another car if a motorcycle is traveling behind you.
- Watch out for bikes at intersections.
- Be mindful of motorcycles with a turn indicator left on: Most bikes don't have self-canceling turn signals, meaning riders sometimes leave a blinker on after completing a turn. If you notice that a motorcycle is driving with an activated turn signal for an abnormal distance, increase your following distance so that you have time to react whenever the rider does decide to turn.
- Look twice at left turns: Left hand turns account for a high percentage of motorcycle crashes. If traveling across lanes or making a left, look again for approaching motorcycles, which may be harder to see than other vehicles.
As an attorney representing people hurt in accidents, I can tell you that I don't often see motorcyclists who suffer minor injuries when they're in an accident. They often have severe injuries. Motorcycles can be great fun, but owners should take precautions to be as safe as possible. Most emergency room doctors and police officers will tell you that they recommend you wear a helmet for your own safety.