Even though we had temperatures below freezing just last month, the weather is finally starting to warm up in Columbus and throughout central Ohio. That means there will be even more people out riding motorcycles, and drivers everywhere will need to do their part to share the road to help prevent motorcycle accidents — especially as traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels.
May has been designated Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time to remind motorists that we all need to stay alert and be mindful that bikers are the most vulnerable drivers on the road.
Fatal motorcycle accidents are becoming far too common
One of the most dangerous scenarios for a motorcyclist occurs when another driver fails to yield and turns in front of the rider.
Tragically, that appears to be what happened earlier this month in Columbus when one person was killed and a second person was injured in a crash involving two motorcycles and a truck on Alum Creek Drive.
According to a report by WBNS-TV, the collision occurred when the driver of a Ford F-550 truck with a trailer turned northbound onto Alum Creek Drive from eastbound Rathmell Road. One motorcyclist, who was riding a Harley-Davidson, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other rider, who was on a Honda motorcycle, was transported to Grant Medical Center in stable condition.
Unfortunately, serious motorcycle accidents like this happen far too often in Columbus, throughout central Ohio, and across the U.S.
Tips for drivers to prevent motorcycle accidents
Over half of all fatal motorcycle accidents that take place in the U.S. every year involve another motor vehicle, and for the majority of those crashes, the other driver is almost always at fault.
Taking that unsettling statistic into consideration, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and AAA have joined forces to increase awareness and encourage everyone to engage in safe driving habits.
To prevent causing a motorcycle wreck, drivers should follow these tips:
- Avoid speeding — Motorcycles are a lot smaller than cars, trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles, and that can make bikers harder to notice. If you're driving over the speed limit, you might not be able to stop fast enough to avoid causing a crash with a motorcycle rider.
- Don't follow too closely — Instead of using their brakes, motorcyclists often downshift or roll off the throttle to slow down, which means the brake lights on the bike won't be activated to provide a visual warning to other drivers that the biker is reducing their speed. Since it can be tough to judge how fast a motorcyclist is going, experts recommend keeping a following distance of at least 3-4 seconds when traveling behind a motorcycle to give yourself enough time to adjust your driving accordingly.
- Pay attention — If you're not 100% focused on you're driving, you run the risk of not seeing a motorcyclist and causing a crash. Common forms of driver distraction include cellphone use — particularly texting while driving — eating, drinking, talking to a passenger, self-grooming (e.g., applying makeup, combing hair, etc.), and being lost in thought, or daydreaming. Always keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your focus on the road ahead.
- Use your turn signals — If other motorists don't know where you're going or what you're doing, how are they supposed to adjust their driving? Imagine causing a motorcycle accident that results in severe or fatal injuries to a rider because you were too lazy to use your turn signal when changing lanes, making a turn, merging, or parking. While using your turn signals might seem insignificant, it can save lives because it gives other motorists a chance to reduce their speed, change lanes, or come to a stop to avoid a crash.
- Check your blind spots — On most passenger vehicles, there will be blind spots around the vehicle's doors and roof pillars. Before you change lanes, be sure to triple-check your blindspots for a motorcyclist. Due to their size, motorcycles can be obstructed by other cars and blend in with bushes, fences, bridges, etc.
Safety tips for bikers include wearing a helmet (under Ohio law, riders under 18 and those with less than one year of riding experience must wear a helmet), wearing appropriate clothing/gear, taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, being mindful of road hazards and dangerous weather conditions, and performing regular maintenance on motorcycles to keep them in good working condition (e.g., checking tire pressure and tread wear, inspecting brake lights and turn signals, tightening loose bolts, etc.).
"Safety is important every day we ride, and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a great time to emphasize our safety messages to drivers and riders alike," said Erik Pritchard, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. "As we look forward to peak riding season, we welcome the opportunity to kick off a summer of safety in May."
Attorney Mike Christensen stands up for injured riders
If you were seriously injured or someone you love died in a motorcycle wreck, you have recourse under Ohio law to seek compensation for your losses from the at-fault driver.
The trouble is the insurance company for the responsible driver has a vested interest in paying you as little money as possible — if anything at all — and you can be sure that they will do everything in their power to make that happen.
An insurance adjuster who knows nothing about riding motorcycles might question, delay, dispute, or deny your claim. Again, they're more worried about protecting their bottom line than making sure you receive appropriate compensation for your damages, and for them, this is all in a day's work.
At Michael D. Christensen Law Offices LLC, we know how to deal with insurance companies and fight for every dollar our clients deserve.
See how an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Columbus, OH can help you. Contact us right now to arrange a free consultation.