What dangers do motorcyclists face on the road?

Motorcyclists may be seriously injured in an accident by other drivers. Helmets and protective clothing may help, but will not eliminate the risk.

For motorcycle enthusiasts, the freedom of the open road calls the loudest during the warm summer months. Unfortunately, motorcyclists in Pittsburgh and across the country face numerous dangers, particularly from the traffic surrounding them.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 185 people were killed in car crashes involving motorcycles in Pennsylvania in 2014. Why are bikers in such danger from other vehicles, especially since their motorcycles are smaller, faster and more maneuverable than cars and trucks? These advantages can also put a biker at risk. For example, drivers often do not see a nearby motorcycle, since they are small and fast. Those who are unfamiliar with the way a motorcycle operates may not realize how easily they can lose control or how dangerous it is to follow one too closely.

The injuries that motorcyclists often suffer from

Bikers lack the protection that other drivers may take for granted, such as seatbelts and the solid structure of a vehicle surrounding them. Therefore, the injuries from any type of motorcycle crash can be devastating. These injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, often include the following:

  • Head trauma
  • Neck, spine or limb fractures
  • Severe bruises, lacerations or abrasions
  • Road rash

Motorcyclists may wear protective gear, such as boots, leather jackets, chaps and helmets to reduce their chances of serious injury. Wearing a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet may decrease the risk of being killed in an accident by 40 percent, states Consumer Reports, but is not a guarantee of safety. Also, not every biker in Pennsylvania chooses to wear a helmet. State law only requires those ages 20 and younger to be protected by a motorcycle helmet.

Watching out for motorcyclists

Much of the responsibility for motorcycle safety falls to other drivers. The NHTSA states that inattentive drivers cause a significant number of motorcycle crashes each year. Therefore, drivers must be aware that every time they get behind the wheel, a motorcycle can be sharing the road with them. It is important to check the mirror, look in blind spots and signal before turning or changing lanes. Motorcycles need a greater following distance than other vehicles. Drivers should also look twice for approaching motorcycles when backing up or turning into traffic from a side road or driveway.

By observing traffic laws and being wary of other drivers, hopefully Pittsburgh motorcyclists will avoid serious accidents during the summer months. However, they have the right to contact an experienced personal injury attorney after sustaining injuries caused by another driver.