Riding a motorcycle is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have on the road. The feel of the wind on your face as you ride down an open highway is a freeing moment. However, riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous, although the causes of many accidents are not the motorcyclist’s fault. There are steps you can take to avoid common motorcycle accidents, and keep you and your passengers safe.
There were just over 1,400 reported motorcycle accidents in Louisiana in 2019. That represents only 0.53% of all reported accidents. Yet, out of those accidents, 72 were fatal. Those 72 fatalities represent 8.58% of all fatal accidents in the state. These statistics clearly show that you are more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than an auto accident.
The majority of motorcyclists involved in accidents were between the ages of 20 and 35, and more than 86% of those involved in accidents were wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. The high percentage of those wearing helmets may reduce the fatality rate, but it also illustrates the high susceptibility of serious injuries or death.
Common Accident Causes
Cars driving too close to a motorcyclist, or motorcyclists riding too close to the vehicle in front of them can often result in an accident.
• Poor Maintenance
Many motorcyclists do DIY maintenance on their bike or have an unqualified friend do it for them. Poor maintenance can lead to mechanical incidents such as brake failure.
• Road Conditions
Over 25% of Louisiana’s major roads are in poor condition and 39% of the urban roads in the New Orleans area are also in bad shape. Avoiding potholes and riding a motorcycle over hazardous road conditions puts you at a higher risk of getting injured.
• Car Doors
A common cause of accidents in urban areas, drivers or passengers opening doors without looking can be dangerous.
• Poor Driving
The most common causes of motorcycle accidents are vehicle drivers changing lanes without noticing or looking for a motorcycle. Lane splitting, which is illegal in Louisiana, is when a motorcyclist uses the areas between two lanes to maneuver between cars. This is also dangerous and causes many accidents.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs lowers your reaction rate and affects your balance and judgment. About 30% of traffic accident fatalities in Louisiana are alcohol-related. Motorcyclists are at danger if they drink and drive, or if other drivers around them drink and drive.
Prevention of all these accidents is an impossible task. However, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of being in an accident while you’re on the road. The first thing to always do is wear a helmet.
According to CDC figures, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of death by 37% and serious head injury by 69%. Other steps you can take include:
• Do not ride too close to the vehicle in front of you. If someone is too close behind you, let them pass.
• Ensure your bike is regularly maintained by a qualified mechanic.
• Be aware of the road conditions. If you are riding on a road, you do not know, reduce your speed, especially at night or in poor weather.
• In urban areas, be aware of parked vehicles. Reducing speed in these areas reduces the chances of an accident.
• There may be little you can do regarding the poor driving of others. What you can do is observe the speed limit, never split lanes, and always be aware of all traffic around you on the road.
• Never drive while under the influence. If you feel you are under the influence, leave your bike somewhere safe and call a rideshare. It may cost you a little more in transportation, but it will cost you a lot less than if you are in an accident.
Some accidents are unavoidable. Poor weather and other people making driving errors are usually out of your control. Simple spatial awareness, common sense, and observing the laws of the road can go a long way to reducing some of the risks of riding a motorcycle.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident and think you may have a case to pursue, call us at (504) 704-1414 to schedule a free consultation.