More than ever, Michigan drivers need to learn to share the road with motorcyclists

Autumn is a particularly nice time of year for motorcyclists to enjoy the open road and scenery. With our state's pleasant mild weather this time of year, combined with stunning fall foliage, there's something about the freedom of riding on a motorcycle that just can't be experienced in a passenger vehicle. However, riding a motorcycle comes with its own special list of inherent risks, which are important both for cyclists and drivers of other vehicles to understand.

Motorcycle injuries are a common problem in the state of Michigan. The current helmet laws in our state, which have recently changed, provide a feeling of freedom and comfort that many riders enjoy, but have sacrificed life-saving security. Last year, the Michigan State Police Department reported 124 fatalities and 2,590 injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents. While motorcycle riders can often lose control of their bikes and be injured or killed in single-vehicle crashes, other drivers on the road also play a large part in the safety of cyclists. It's crucial for motorists to share the road and to be aware of all traffic around them.

Motorcycle deaths rising across the nation

NBC News reported that motorcycle deaths across the country rose by nine percent last year, and have been steadily increasing over the past 14 years while other traffic deaths have been declining. This may be due to an increased amount of motorcyclists on the roads, or to newer, less experienced riders getting out on the streets without having years of practice under their belts. For whatever the reason, motorcycle deaths in Michigan were significantly higher than in the rest of the country, rising by an alarming 18 percent in 2012.

While the choice falls to most adult motorcyclists in Michigan, it never hurts to remind riders that wearing an approved helmet can reduce the chances of death in a crash by as much as 40 percent. Still, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it's even more important for other drivers to help prevent accidents by being aware of a number of factors unique to motorcyclists:

  • Motorcycles stop faster than larger cars, so those behind them should follow at a farther distance.
  • It's easy to miss motorcycles in blind spots, so always check before turning or changing lanes.
  • Always signal before making a change, to alert others sharing the road.
  • Motorcycles have the same rights and privileges as all other vehicles.

Also, motorcycles can easily lose control in adverse weather or road conditions, so drivers should be extra cautious when a motorcycle is nearby. It's good news that motorcycle manufacturers are coming up with improved safety features, such as anti-lock brake technology, that can save additional lives.

Getting help from an attorney

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motorcycle drivers most commonly face devastating injuries to the head, neck, arms and legs in a crash. These injuries can set an accident victim back several weeks to months during recovery time, as well as preventing him or her from working and paying bills. Medical expenses can rise exponentially while recovering from an accident, much of which may not be covered by insurance.

If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident that was another driver's fault, you may be entitled to compensation of your losses. It will help to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options.