On Friday the 17th, a man was riding his Kawasaki motorcycle in a Scottsdale parking lot when he lost control and struck a wall. Not only was the man not wearing a helmet, but the police also believe both speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. The man was taken to the hospital with serious head injuries including a skull fracture.
The second young man was riding his 1983 Harley Davidson through the Bell Road and 7th Street intersection on Sunday the 19th when a woman driving a 2002 Yukon failed to yield to oncoming traffic, turned left, and struck the motorcyclist. This man was also taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Motorcycles are obviously a very popular form of transportation and fun here in the Valley. The weather allows for them to be ridden year round. However, as we have said time and time again everyone, EVERYONE needs to exercise more caution on the roads considering the traffic volumes and the variety of vehicles on the road today. Motorcyclists need to be even more careful, as drivers do not always see them before making a maneuver in traffic. I received some very insightful advise when I bought my first motorcycle years ago from a veteran rider. He told me “Ride like you are invisible, because often, to drivers, you are”.
As operators of motor vehicles on the public roadways, we all have duties to drive safely to avoid accidents. Motorcycle riders have no duty greater or less than any other driver. However, it is my opinion that motorcycle riders need to be more careful and observant---for their own good. The cars are much bigger, and if an accident occurs, the person on the motorcycle always loses. It does not matter who did what, I can virtually guarantee that the motorcycle rider or passenger is always going to get the worst of it.
In Arizona, helmets are only required by law for those under 18-years-old. Helmets can save lives and prevent very serious head injuries. We know this to be true. In Arizona, if you are involved in an accident, even if you are not at fault, you may be denied a recovery for your injuries and medical bills if the evidence shows that you could have escaped your injuries by wearing a helmet—regardless of age.
Clearly, there are many things both automobile drivers and motorcyclists can do to ensure that the motorcyclists do not fade from view. From the motorcycle rider’s point of view here are some helpful safety suggestions:
- Always wear a helmet (light in color), quality eye protection, and bright protective clothing.
- Use lane positioning to be seen; ride where you are most visible and avoid blind spots.
- Give other vehicles the time and space to see you.
- Make sure all your lights work and have headlight on at all times.
- Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping.
- Know your bike and how to use it.
For the automobile driver, here are some safety suggestions:
- Look for motorcyclists, especially when checking for traffic at an intersection.
- When you do see a motorcyclist, predict he is closer than he appears.
- Allow more following distance, 3 or 4 seconds, to allow you time to react.
- When a motorcycle is moving, don’t think of it as a motorcycle, think of it as a person.
- Always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or making sudden moves.
Let’s all do what we can to avoid anyone else suffering serious or life threatening injuries due to these types of accidents. While fatalities can happen, the truth is that they happen far more frequently when the accident involves a motorcycle. Visit www.ZacharAssociates.com for an overview on these types of accidents and what to do if you are involved in one.