(Contributed post for our North American readers)
Riding motorcycles gives riders a profound sense of joy, freedom, and adventure.
But with the advantages of riding motorcycles comes some serious health and safety risks. Reckless riding contributes significantly to the dangers of riding. And unfortunately, motorcyclists tend to suffer the worst consequences when involved in a crash.
While most bikers are probably aware of these risks, below are some untold facts to keep in mind so you can safely enjoy the freedom of the open road.
Reckless Driving Affects Motorcyclists More Than Other Drivers
Reckless driving includes excessive speeding, as well as driving that substantially endangers other drivers and passengers on the road.
Several types of reckless riding behaviors have a greater effect on motorcyclists, including:
- Distracted riding,
- Excessive speeding,
- Tailgating, and
- Failing to look for and yield to a motorcyclist.
Distracted driving, in particular, disproportionately affects motorcyclists. Drivers who use their cell phones while driving, fiddle with the radio dials, or are otherwise distracted often fail to see motorcycles in time to avoid a crash.
And unfortunately, the motorcyclist often suffers the worst of the consequences. Many drivers also fail to look for motorcyclists and properly share the road. These reckless driving behaviors increase the chances that a motorcyclist will suffer a serious or fatal accident.
Reckless Driving Causes More Serious Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycles offer riders much less safety than larger vehicles on the road.
Motorcycles lack doors, airbags, and other protective safety features that help prevent serious injuries and deaths in car crashes. As a result, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer serious injuries or death when involved in a collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely to die in a car accident than car and truck drivers. In 2018, a total of 4,985 motorcyclists died in automobile accidents. This number has nearly doubled over the last two decades. These risks are far greater when the motorcyclist or other driver drives recklessly. Among the fatal motorcycle accidents in 2018, more than 20% of them were caused by reckless driving.
Helmets Are Only Partially Effective
Every motorcycle rider should wear a helmet. Studies show that riders involved in crashes are much more likely to survive and avoid head injuries when wearing a helmet.
But when one or both motorists drive recklessly, helmets become less effective at preventing brain injury and death. Health studies demonstrate that helmets are only 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths. Helmets are far more effective when crashes involve lower speeds. Driving at lower speeds and in a controlled manner gives both drivers more time to react and avoid a more serious collision.
Alcohol Causes Many Motorcycle Crashes
Riding motorcycles requires significant mental and physical awareness to operate the vehicle safely.
As a result, alcohol has a more significant effect on the driver’s ability to ride safely, even at low levels of intoxication. And alcohol use contributes significantly to motorcycle crashes. In 2018, 26% of fatal motorcycle accidents occurred when the motorcycle rider had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08%.
Alcohol use increases the likelihood that the rider will suffer severe injuries or death.
This is due to several factors, including:
- Intoxicated motorcycle riders are less likely to wear helmets,
- Intoxicated riders drive at higher speeds, and
- Intoxicated driving increases the chances of head-on collisions.
In addition to increased risk of injuries, alcohol use while riding also carries heavy legal penalties, including possible jail time and substantial fines.
Reckless Driving Results in Higher Insurance Costs
Insurance coverage for motorcycles and other vehicles depends on several factors, including:
- The retail price of the vehicle,
- The cost of parts,
- The overall safety of the vehicle, and
- The individual’s driving record.
Reckless driving significantly increases the chances you will be involved in a motorcycle accident.
Reckless driving also usually involves more serious crashes and greater damage to a vehicle. Data gathered by Highway Loss Data Institute shows the frequency and severity of motorcycle insurance claims. Motorcycles with larger engines and higher performance have significantly more claims than other types of vehicles. This matches statistics showing that motorcyclists riding high-performance bikes tend to drive at higher speeds and more recklessly than other riders. A conviction for reckless driving will also raise your insurance premiums, even if no crash occurs.
Reckless Driving Leads to Serious Legal Consequences
Most states take reckless driving seriously and impose harsh penalties on drivers who endanger others.
Punishments for careless driving vary by state, but most consequences include:
- Possible jail time,
- Large fines of up to $1,000,
- License suspension,
- Probation, and
- Driving classes.
Reckless driving convictions can cause long-term consequences and disrupt your life. However, hiring a skilled reckless driving law firm, such as Virginia attorney Andrew Flusche, who may help reduce the likelihood of a reckless driving conviction. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and argue for lesser charges or a more lenient sentence. If you are facing reckless driving charges, you should speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible.