It’s no secret that motorcyclists are at much higher risk of being killed in traffic than those traveling in cars, trucks, SUVs and other passenger vehicles. Much of the danger to motorcyclists is attributable to drivers of other vehicles, who often fail to notice motorcycles on the road or to adapt their speed and following distance when sharing the road with bikers.
Many organizations study how we can make the roads safer for motorcyclists, and each spring the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MASSDOT) reminds drivers to be alert for motorcycles. While experts and authorities search for solutions, here are some things motorcyclists can do–or rather, NOT do–to improve their own safety.
- Don’t ride your motorcycle under the influence of alcohol. Motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents are more likely to have been impaired by alcohol than drivers of any other type of vehicle. 16% of motorcyclists killed in traffic during the day were found to have been under the influence of alcohol, along with a stunning 42% of those who died on the road at night.
- Don’t ride without a helmet. Massachusetts has a strict motorcycle helmet law, and a higher rate of compliance than most states. Wearing a proper helmet reduces the risk of death to a rider by 37%, and the risk of death for a passenger by 41%. The reduction in risk of serious head injury is even greater.
- Don’t assume cars are the only risk. While motor vehicles present a wide variety of risks to motorcyclists, 24% of motorcycle fatalities in 2021 involved the motorcyclist colliding with a fixed object. Be vigilant about your surroundings generally, not just about other traffic.
- Don’t ride without a license or proper training. Riding a motorcycle is different than driving a car, and riding without being fully prepared is dangerous. In 2021, 36% of motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions did not have valid motorcycle licenses.
- Don’t ride in dark clothing at night. Visibility is a serious issue for motorcycle riders, even in the middle of a sunny afternoon. When riding at night it is critical to make yourself as visible as possible with light and/or reflective clothing and lights and reflectors on your bike.
- Don’t assume that drivers see you. You may be the only vehicle in a lane heading straight toward an oncoming vehicle in the other lane, and it may seem impossible that they’re unaware of your presence. But, it does happen. This is especially dangerous at intersections and when attempting to pass an automobile.
What if a Motorcycle Accident is Partly the Injured Biker’s Fault?
If you’ve made one of the mistakes listed above and were injured in traffic, you may be wondering how that misstep might affect your case. Under Massachusetts law, an injured person who is partly responsible can still collect some compensation as long as they were not more than half to blame. But, the compensation they receive will be reduced to account for the percentage of the blame attributable to them.
For example, imagine that a motorcyclist who is not wearing a helmet is hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver will almost certainly be found to have been negligent, and so responsible for damages they caused. But, if the motorcyclist suffered a head injury, the responsible driver’s insurance carrier will almost certainly argue that the rider wouldn’t have sustained that injury–or that it would have been much less serious–if the motorcyclist had been wearing a helmet as required by Massahusetts law. If the jury agrees, then the damages awarded to the injured motorcyclist will be reduced by whatever percentage of blame the jury assigns them.
The best way to find out whether you may be entitled to compensation after a motorcycle accident is to consult an experienced Massachusetts motorcycle accident lawyer. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has devoted his career to helping injury victims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire get fair compensation. To learn more about how he can help you, schedule a free consultation right now. Just call 978-459-3085 or fill out the contact form on this site to get a free consultation. Even if you aren’t sure if you have a case, it is always better to call and ask.
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