As the weather warms, motorcyclists across Alabama are at risk of being in accidents.
Once winter’s chill has left the air and the spring flowers bloom, motorcycle riders across the state hit the roads en masse. Motorcyclists can enjoy the fresh air, feel the warm sunshine on their backs and get a birds’ eye view of Alabama’s wildlife alongside the roadways. Motorcycle riders feel a sense of freedom that people in cars, trucks and commercial vehicles simply cannot. That freedom – and all the other benefits of motorcycling, including less money spent on gas and a smaller carbon footprint – comes at a price, though: motorcyclists are much more likely to be injured or lose their lives when they are involved in an accident than vehicle occupants are.
Laws aimed at safety
The Alabama legislature has done its part to make motorcycling as secure as possible by passing motorcycle and “motor-driven cycle” safety laws. The laws include requiring all motorcycle riders – operators and passengers alike, including those riding on the bike itself as well as in a sidecar or trailer – to wear a safety helmet and shoes (see Alabama Code Section 32-5A-245). Helmets must be solidly constructed, fit well, have sufficient padding to meet minimum protectiveness standards, and come with a permanently attached chin strap.
In addition, the state has prohibited the practice of “lane-splitting” by motorcyclists. This is where motorcycles travel between vehicles instead of staying confined to a single lane. It is a relatively common practice, but it is a dangerous one since it can result in motorcycles ended up in the “blind spot” of adjacent vehicles (which can prove disastrous when vehicles change lanes).
Accidents persist despite safety efforts
The damage to a car, truck or SUV may be minimal in an accident involving a motorcycle, but a motorcyclist or passenger can be seriously injured or killed even in a relatively low speed crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a motorcyclist is 26 times more likely to be killed and five times as likely to be injured in a crash as a vehicle occupant is. The NHTSA also reports that in 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available) alone, there were nearly 4,600 motorcycle accident fatalities and 92,000 injuries.
Even though Alabama has taken legislative action in an attempt to make motorcycling safer, the simple fact remains that the majority of accidents involving motorcycles and vehicles aren’t the fault of the motorcyclist. Oftentimes, bad driving behaviors and negligence of car, truck and commercial vehicle drivers cause the accidents between those vehicles and motorcycles. Such behaviors include:
- Distracted driving (including talking on a handheld or hands-free cellphone, texting, checking email, adjusting a GPS device, updating social media, eating/drinking or changing the music selection)
- Not accounting for changes in traffic levels or road conditions
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Not checking blind spots before switching lanes or merging into traffic
Even if you take all the proper safety precautions and operate your motorcycle in a responsible manner, there is still a chance you’ll be involved in an injury-causing accident. If you or someone you love has been injured in a serious motorcycle wreck that was the fault of another person, you have legal rights. For more information about possible legal options, contact the Birmingham or Rainesville law offices of Lloyd and Hogan. Call them today at 205-969-6235 or contact them online to schedule a free initial case consultation.