Motorcycles, Injury Prevention, and Safety – Oh My!

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By Michael H. Rosenzweig, Esq.

Thousands of motorcyclists are injured or killed in Pennsylvania every year. In 2011 alone, there were more than 3,600 accidents involving motorcycles, and 199 people died. The best way to prevent injuries, trips to the ER, and hospital stays is for motorcyclists to focus on safety.

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, and Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching. Soon thousands will take to the road to usher in another riding season, so there’s no better time to remind motorcyclists and drivers to be safe and vigilant at all times.

Safety Tips for Bikers

Riding a motorcycle can be one of the best ways to enjoy summer, but it carries responsibility. You should follow all traffic laws to lower your chances of being in an accident, and help prevent others from being injured in collisions as well.

Here are a few safety tips to follow:

  • Perform regular maintenance on your motorcycle. Test your brakes, lights, and controls every time before you ride. You don’t want to find out that your brakes don’t work in the moment you need to use them.
  • Wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet every time. It’s not a law in Pennsylvania, but it significantly increases your chances of survival in a motorcycle crash. It also decreases your chances of sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
  • Take one of the several safety courses offered through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program. Visit www.pamsp.com to learn more and to register.
  • Don’t drink and ride. Of the 4,099 riders in Pennsylvania crashes in 2010, 442 were under the influence of alcohol.
  • Always wear protective eyewear, gloves, thick pants, shirt with long sleeves or jacket, and over-the-ankle boots. Wearing proper riding attire can help avoid unnecessary injuries.
  • Watch for hazards on the road, and stay out of drivers’ blind spots.
  • Follow proper group riding guidelines. Visit this link for more information on group riding.

Motorcycle Safety Applies to Drivers, Too

Motorcyclists can do everything possible to be safe on the road, but they are only half of the equation. Drivers in other vehicles make up the other half. Motorcycles are a type of vehicle, and you must treat them like you would a car, truck, or van. In fact, you should be even more cautious when driving near a motorcyclist, because they are less protected.

Here are a few tips to keep both you and motorcyclists safe on the road:

  • Don’t pass a motorcycle unless you have a passing lane. Don’t pass on the shoulder or swerve around a motorcycle at an intersection.
  • Check your blind spots before changing lanes and merging. Motorcycles can be harder to see than other types of vehicles.
  • Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and a motorcycle. Never tailgate a motorcycle. Bikers need to shift, and their speed can be unpredictable.

Injuries From a Motorcycle Accident

No matter how much people focus on motorcycle safety, accidents still occur. However, there are several things you can do to help lessen the severity of injuries and make sure you get the right medical treatment quickly.

1.  Make sure you have medical coverage on your motorcycle policy or regular health insurance coverage because the medical coverage on your automobile policy will not apply if you are hurt while on a motorcycle. Don’t trust the other person’s insurance company to cover you – even if they are at fault for the accident.

2.  Carry a ‘Just in Case’ card with you every time you ride. This card should list your name, emergency contacts, insurance information, and any important information about your health that emergency personnel should know – allergies, medical conditions, medications you’re currently taking, etc.

3.  Call 9-1-1 right away. Getting medical treatment quickly can mean the difference between life and death – especially for traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Beyond Motorcycle Safety

By keeping motorcycle safety in mind, you can help protect yourself and others from being injured in accidents. Unfortunately, accidents will likely always be a part of our lives, so it’s important to be prepared. You can protect your legal rights by having adequate motorcycle insurance and following these steps after a motorcycle accident.

Attorney Michael H. Rosenzweig has over 25 years of experience helping bikers injured in motorcycle accidents. He is a partner and litigation manager at Edgar Snyder & Associates. The Edgar Snyder & Associates Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season. For more information, visit EdgarSnyder.com.

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