This time of year, there is always an increase in motorcycle accidents in the Morgantown area. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA), Analysis of Fatal Crash Data West Virginia: 2006-2010, the months between July and September are when the most fatal and alcohol-related motorcycle crashes occur throughout West Virginia.
People are likely taking to the open road more often this time of year, trying to make the most of the last days of prolonged sun and warm weather before putting their bikes away for the winter. This influx of traffic magnifies whatever driving hazards are already present.
Our Morgantown motorcycle accident attorney explains the most common types of motorcycle accident causes and injuries as well as how to best prevent a crash from occurring.
Common Motorcycle Accident Causes & Injuries
Sadly, most motorists just aren’t looking out for people on motorcycles when they drive. Motorcycle accidents are therefore most often caused by the negligent actions of another motorist, usually one driving a passenger vehicle or commercial truck.
The most common causes of motorcycle accidents due to human error are:
- Distracted driving (texting while driving, etc.)
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving on too little sleep
- Failing to check for motorcyclists before changing lanes
- Failing to stop at stop signs or stoplights
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Reckless driving
Other common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Bad weather
- Broken pavement
- Ice on roads
- Poor road design
- Road construction
When a motorcycle collides with a larger, closed vehicle, it is generally the motorcyclist who suffers the worst injury. The lack of a protective chassis, seatbelts, and other injury deterrents leave bikers very vulnerable to harm. This often leads to bikers coming away from accidents with severe and catastrophic injuries—if they manage to walk away at all.
The most common motorcycle accident injuries bikers suffer are:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Internal bleeding
- Bone fractures
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
How to Protect Yourself from Accidents
There’s no foolproof way for any motorist to guarantee their safety on the road, but there are ways you can greatly lower your risk of getting into a motorcycle accident, such as:
- Check that your bike is working properly. Perform regular maintenance on your motorcycle. Check your tires often—low pressure or any defects could lead to a blowout. Look for signs of oil or gas leaks and make sure your lights are functioning. Make sure your brakes feel firm and hold your bike in place.
- Make sure you are visible. High visibility clothing and gear will help other drivers see you better, especially at night, when accidents often occur due to limited visibility.
- Always drive defensively. Unfortunately, because most motorists aren’t thinking to look out for motorcyclists while driving, it is up to you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Always keep a safe distance between you and other cars and be mindful of potential escape routes you can take if someone suddenly cuts in front of you.
- Avoid reckless driving. We understand the urge to put the pedal to the metal and weave in and out of traffic on your bike, but this can lead to serious accidents. In fact, speeding and alcohol use are the leading causes of motorcycle accidents caused by bikers. Even on rural roads where other vehicles are less of an issue, deadly accidents can be caused by hazards such as animals crossing the road.
- No lane splitting. Lane splitting is the act of riding a motorcycle between lanes of slow-moving or standstill traffic traveling in the same direction. This is illegal in West Virginia and potentially very dangerous.
- Wear a helmet. If all else fails and you do get into an accident, you’re going to want to be wearing a helmet. Local helmet law states that all West Virginia motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) certified helmet. This and other protective gear like a face shield, close-toed boots, and leather clothing can prevent many injuries.
Stay safe out there!