May 2013

Making Massachusetts Safer for Motorcycle Riders

The number of motorcycle fatalities in Massachusetts and throughout the United States is cause for great concern. While fatalities for all other categories of accidents have declined over the past decade, the GHSA reports that motorcycle deaths have increased for 14  of the last 15 years. The nine percent increase from 2011 to 2012 was one of the worst on record and exceeded predictions from federal authorities on how much the death toll would rise over the course of the year. 

Our Fall River, MA accident attorneys urge drivers to seriously consider the problem of motorcycle rider safety during the month of May, which is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Drivers can start their efforts to improve safety by taking a look at the NHTSA reminder about sharing the road safely, but should go much further than just reading troubling stats and safety tips. Drivers and motorcyclists need to put what they learn through Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month into practice to make safe choices on the roads and avoid accidents.

Improving Motorcycle Safety in Massachusetts

Motorcycle riders are in serious danger of being killed by a motorcycle crash, with motorcyclists 30 times more likely on a per vehicle mile basis to die in a car accident than those in passenger vehicles.  Something needs to be done about the risks, and some Massachusetts residents told the Taunton Gazette that a mandatory motorcycle safety course might be the answer. There are many proponents of this solution who argue that a safety course could help reduce the number of motorcycle-related deaths in the state.

While such a mandatory class might be one way to help to reduce accidents, the Massachusetts Rider Education Program for motorcyclists called “Training Wheels” is currently required only for motorcycle riders ages 18 or under or for riders who have failed the motorcycle road test twice. Further, a safety course for motorcyclists may not be the best answer because motorcycle riders are often not the ones behaving unsafely or driving in a risky way.

Often, it is the drivers of passenger cars who take chances, make careless choices and put motorcyclists at risk. Part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month involves educating drivers so they won’t be the ones endangering motorcyclists and the NHTSA offers some important advice to drivers serious about making the roads safer. For example, drivers can reduce the chances of a motorcycle accident by:

  • Never driving distracted.
  • Leaving motorcyclists their own lane, not trying to share.
  • Using signals before merging or changing lanes so motorcyclists can better anticipate what the car will do.
  • Checking and double checking blind spots where a motorcycle rider could be hidden while  a driver is changing lanes or merging.
  • Being sensitive to the fact that motorcyclists are more affected by potholes or changes in road surface.
  • Leaving plenty of room–at least three to four seconds of driving distance–between the car’s front and the motorcycle’s back.

By following these basic safety tips, drivers can do their part to reduce the rising number of motorcycle accident deaths. Drivers making smart choices will do at least as much to help motorcycle riders as any type of proposed mandatory safety course that motorcyclists could be required to take.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl  serves clients in Providence, R.I., as well as Foxborough and Fall River, Mass.

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