In the United States, there are over 4 million motorcycles registered. However, with this increasing number, this also means increasing accidents. Motorcycles are lower in cost than most motor vehicles, which makes them desirable to many. But why do so many accidents happen involving these means of transportation (approximately five percent of all traffic fatalities a year)? The biggest reason is because motorcycles provide next to no protection in the event of a crash. Vehicles have more weight and bulk than motorcycles and roofs to offer extra protection to the passengers. These are things that a motorcycle lacks. The following are common causes of motorcycle-related accidents:
- Lack of basic riding skills
- Failure to appreciate limitations of the motorcycle
- Failure to use special precautions while riding
- Lack of specific braking and cornering skills
- Failure to follow the speed limit
In New Jersey, like many states, motorcycle riders find themselves to be vulnerable on the road compared to other drivers. The scary fact is that, in New Jersey from 2009 to 2013, there have been approximately 13,000 crashes involving motorcycles. Each year in New Jersey, there are about 70 fatalities and around 2,000 injuries noted. Alcohol is a contributing factor at 31% of all fatalities in 2013, and unsafe speed being 36%. There are some motorcycle crash facts, including ones that involve other vehicles and ones that do not:
- Over half will take place at intersections.
- More than two-thirds occur when the vehicle’s driver does not see the motorcycle.
- More than two-thirds occurs as a result of excessive speed.
- Inexperienced riders cause the most crashes, so licensing requirements should always be remembered. It is a fast that 90% of riders involved in crashes actually have no formal training. Training programs put in place are designed to help new or experienced riders suffer fewer injuries in the event of a crash.
- 40% of single vehicle motorcycle fatalities will take place during turns and corners, so it is vital to slow down before maneuvering the corner.
Helmet Law and Other Helmet-Related Facts
In New Jersey, there is a helmet law known as the New Jersey Helmet Law P.L. 39:3-76:7. This states that “No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a securely fitted protective helmet of a size proper for that person and of a type approved by the federal DOT. Such a helmet must be equipped with either a neck or chin strap and be reflectorized on both sides.”
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An approved helmet will allow the rider to see as far to the sides as necessary for safe riding. It is also important to remember that most crashes occur on short trips, which are just a few minutes after starting out. Low-speed crashes can be fatal, but helmets are known to reduce both the number and the severity of head injuries by half! Furthermore, no matter what speed a rider is traveling at, unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to die from head injuries than are riders who are wearing a DOT approved helmet at the time of the crash.
Taking special safety precautions is one of the best ways to avoid a personal injury that may lead to injuries, lawsuits, or even fatality. Here are some safety tips to take with you before you helmet up and enjoy the ride:
- Drive defensively and assume that motorists will not always see you.
- Make yourself visible by wearing bright colored and reflective clothing, and avoiding lingering in blind spots.
- Give yourself time and space to react, as well as remembering not to tailgate.
- Avoid sudden braking or turning when driving on wet roads or gravel.
- Enhance your skills with education by taking advantage of the various safety courses that New Jersey offers.
- Never drink alcohol, take medications, or ride if you are tired.