With summer in full swing, Pennsylvania motorcycle accidents are on the rise. Our motorcycle injury lawyers know many riders want to soak in as much road time as they can in the warmer months, but it's important to be safe. That means educating yourself about what often goes wrong, and you can best protect yourself from the most common pitfalls.
That begins with delving into the data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PDOT), which tracks motorcycle accidents and motorcycle safety initiatives.
Pennsylvania Motorcycle Crashes
There are nearly 860,000 licensed motorcyclists in Pennsylvania, a figure that has grown by more than 7 percent since 2007. However, only a small fraction of those, about 17,000 as of 2016, have taken a rider safety course.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports about 5,000 people die every year in motorcycle crashes across the country. Of those, 170 lost their lives on Pennsylvania roads.
When we delve into the catalyst of these occurrences, federal researchers say that there are a handful of primary factors that play into the likelihood and severity of a crash. Those are:
- Not wearing a helmet
Of course, not all of this is on the motorcyclist. In fact, a significant number of crashes are caused by the other motorists. But you should know that M.C.L.A. § 600.2959, Michigan's modified comparative fault rule, will not prohibit you from seeking damages even if you are partially at-fault, so long as you are not more than 50 percent to blame. The amount you can collect, however, may be reduced proportionately to your own blame.
You should also know that Pennsylvania law does require a federally-approved helmet for any motorcycle passenger or operator under the age of 21. This can potentially be used by the defense as a form of comparative fault. This does not mean it's not worth pursuing a claim if you weren't wearing a helmet, but it is something to consider. Our injury attorneys can help you determine what route the defense is most likely to take, and how we can help successfully challenge that.
Safety on Pennsylvania Roads
Motorcyclists face unique challenges on the road with which other motorists simply aren't confronted. For example, rain or hail may pose a minor annoyance to someone in a passenger car, but it can pose a major obstacle for a motorcyclist. As such, ample caution must be exercised.
Some recommendations as set forth by PDOT include:
- Wear a helmet approved by the DOT.
- Know your motorcycle/ and conduct a pre-ride check. If you are new to riding a motorcycle or are just getting back into it for the first time in years, consider taking a safety course. Use extra caution, because most crashes happen within the first few months of receiving a motorcycle endorsement.
- Be seen. Wear clothing that is reflective, and make sure you have on other protective gear.
- Use common sense. Ride sober. Obey all traffic laws. You need to be able to react quickly to any potential situation at the drop of a dime.
- Practice safe-riding techniques and be observant of all road conditions.