If you are one of the more than 240,000 motorcyclists in New York, you are no doubt taking advantage of the longer days and (hopefully soon) warmer weather to get out for a ride. Maybe you’ll be heading to the Adirondacks this weekend for the 35th annual Americade in Lake George, or the 16th annual Warrensburg Bike Rally.
Regardless of where your bike takes you this summer, safety is always the top priority. Riding a motorcycle is riskier than driving a car, and the likelihood of injury in a motorcycle accident is greater than in a vehicle crash.
Stay vigilant and take some key precautions to minimize the chance of becoming an accident statistic.
Don’t drink and ride!
Driving any motorized vehicle under the influence is dangerous, but even more so on a motorcycle. Your balance, sensory perception and reflexes are affected when you are under the influence, leaving you more vulnerable to a crash. And if you do crash, it’s likely to be serious. Almost one-third of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2015 were legally drunk, with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Always wear your helmet.
Both motorcycle drivers and passengers are required by New York state law to wear a federally rated helmet and protective eyewear. According to the NHTSA, head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Wearing a helmet can save your life and minimize brain damage, with the NHTSA estimating that helmets are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries in a crash. Visit the www.helmetcheck.org site to see if your helmet meets safety standards.
Seemingly minor road hazards such as potholes, uneven lanes and wet roads are not necessarily significant risk factors in a car, but on a motorcycle, they can become deadly. Two wheels are not as stable as four, so you need to be aware of the conditions at all times. Anticipate potential hazards—whether road related or due to other motorists around you—and be ready to take defensive measures. Check out the NYS Motorcycle Safety Program, administered by the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, for information about safety courses you can take to brush up on your skills.
While prevention is always the goal, it is not always possible. Let’s look at some key actions you should take if you’ve been in a motorcycle accident.
- If you are blocking the roadway, and can safely move off the side, do so.
- In general, it’s best not to remove your helmet, or that of your passenger, since you don’t know the extent of any potential injuries.
- Call 911. Provide statements only to law enforcement officers on the scene. If another driver is involved in the accident, do not provide any statements to their insurance company, or admit fault.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and any damage or ask someone to do it for you and record as much detail as possible.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. There may be time limits regarding filing claims.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with motorcycle accident cases. New York’s No-Fault insurance does not apply to accidents involving motorcycles, so serious injury is not required to bring a lawsuit. Your attorney can guide you through the process, including commencing any potential legal action, or defending your rights if you are being charged in the accident.
At LaMarche Safranko Law, we appreciate the dangers that motorcyclists face while enjoying their passion and we advocate for those who are injured by other drivers. If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle crash, contact us for a free consultation at (518) 982-0770 or online.