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Semi Truck - Motorcycle Accident Leaves One in Critical Condition

At 8:00 PM on Saturday August 28, 2010 an accident occurred in between a motorcycle and a semi tractor trailer truck.1 At first it appeared to be a hit and run accident, but about 30 minutes later, the driver of the semi truck called to say that he thought he might have clipped someone. Judging from the photo of the motorcycle at the accident scene, it looks like a little more than a “clip.” Motorcycles can be hard to see and are easily cloaked in your blind spot. A primary factor in motorcycle fatalities is that motorcycles provide no protection in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)2 says that more than 4 million motorcycles are registered in the United States. Motorcycles are popular, in part, due to the low initial cost, good fuel efficiency and its use as a pleasure vehicle. Motorcycle fatalities account for roughly 5% of all highway fatalities each year in the U. S. despite the fact that motorcycles only represent 2% of all registered vehicles. Approximately 80% of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death as compared to 20% for automobiles.

Motorcycle accidents statistics from the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) 2008 Arizona Crash Facts Summary 3 indicate:

  • Of 119,588 total crashes, 3,531 of them were motorcycle crashes
  • 3.96% of the motorcycle accidents were fatal, killing 140 individuals
  • 78.05% of the 2,756 motorcycle accidents resulted in injury
  • 1,000 of the 3,531 motorcycle accidents occurred when driving too fast for conditions
  • 1,517 occurred with no sign of improper driving
  • 17.98% of 635 of these motorcycle accidents resulted in property damage only
  • Urban crashes accounted for 70.83% and rural 29.17%
  • 329 incapacitating injuries occurred when no helmet was used
  • 59 fatal injuries were reported with no helmet used
  • 3,309 of these crashes occurred on dry road surfaces, and 1,853 occurred in collision with another motor vehicle of some kind
  • Crashes during weekends accounted for 39% of all motorcycle crashes and 50% of all fatal crashes
  • Weekday motorcycle crashes accounted for 61% of all motorcycle crashes and 50% of all crashes

Motorcycle Safety Tips:

  • Always, always, always, use special precautions while riding a motorcycle and always use defensive driving techniques.
  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Be extremely careful at intersections as most motorcycle -vehicle collisions occur there.
    Don’t ride in a car’s “No Zone” (blind spot).
  • Motorcyclists must remain visible to other motorists at all times. Anticipate what may happen more than other vehicle drivers may. Be aware of drivers backing their cars out of driveways, etc. and place greater emphasis on defensive driving.
  • Exercise greater caution when riding on slippery surfaces, or when encountering obstacles on the roadway.
  • Consider wearing comfortable, but protective clothing and gear (helmet, eye protection) to reduce the severity of injury if you become involved in a motorcycle crash.
  • Approximately 50% of all fatal single-vehicle motorcycle crashes involve alcohol and any amount of alcohol significantly decreases an operator’s ability to operate the motorcycle safely. A motorcycle requires more skill and coordination to operate than a car.
  • Approximately 33% of motorcycle operators killed in traffic crashes are not licensed or are improperly licensed to operate a motorcycle. By not obtaining a motorcycle operator license, riders are bypassing the only method they have to ensure knowing how to skillful and safely operate a motorcycle.
  • Know and make concessions for the limitations of the motorcycle.
  • Select and drive a motorcycle that fits. A motorcyclist should be able to touch the ground with both feet when astride the vehicle. If you will be carrying a passenger, make sure the motorcycle you select has a passenger seat as well as footrests (foot pegs) for the passenger. Check the location of the controls. Make sure you can reach and operate them easily and comfort.

Given the above statistics and the likelihood of an accident it is important for every motorcycle rider to understand their rights:

  1. Contact law enforcement to investigate the accident (call 911)
  2. Identify the adverse driver’s motor vehicle insurance (copy it down inclusive of the insurance company, policy number and names on the insurance information)
  3. If available, take photos of the accident scene, your motorcycle’s damage and the adverse driver’s vehicle’s damage.
  4. For any accident witness at the scene, write down their contact information inclusive of their full name, address and phone number.
  5. Seek medical attention immediately following an accident as the adrenaline flowing through your body may temporarily mask any injuries and/or pain symptoms.

As with all personal injury accidents, it is extremely important accident victims or their families take steps to initiate early investigation. If there is not a fair and impartial investigation, the facts as to how the accident occurred become obscured and undo blame may be placed upon innocent victims, perhaps depriving the victims and their family from obtaining fair and reasonable compensation. Always consult with an experienced bodily injury lawyer to discuss your options and rights for compensation.