Motorcycle accidents are, unfortunately, a very common tragedy in the United States, especially around busy, high-traffic cities like Chicago. Last year, there were approximately 120 motorcycle-related deaths in Illinois alone, with most occurring around Chicago. There is a harmful stigma surrounding motorcyclists, labeling them as reckless adrenaline junkies. This causes the blame to be falsely placed on Motorcyclists when they’re involved in accidents. The truth is motorcycle accidents can be caused by any number of factors. Here are some of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents and things you can do to keep Motorcyclists safe on the road.
Since the introduction of cell phones, distracted driving has continued to be one of the leading causes of all motor vehicle accidents–now almost six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving. Of course, cell phones are not the only thing that could cause a distraction. Distracted driving includes anything that could pull a driver’s attention away from the road, like eating, adjusting the radio, or interacting with other passengers. You might think it’s relatively harmless to look away from the road for just a few seconds, but the reality is that those seconds could have been the reaction time needed to prevent an accident from occurring. As a motorcyclist, if you believe your accident was caused by distracted driving, it’s important that you seek the advice of a motorcycle accident attorney. They’ll be able to gather evidence to strengthen your case and prove that you were not at fault.
To lower your risk of causing an accident by driving distracted, it’s important that you remove all possible distractions from your vehicle. This includes pulling up your driving playlist or directions to where you’re going before you start driving, avoiding eating, limiting interactions with other passengers, and putting your phone on ‘do not disturb’ while in the car.
Impaired driving is when a driver gets behind the wheel of their car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These substances can negatively impact judgment, motor skills, and reaction time, as well as their ability to the speed, distance, and movement of other vehicles in relation to their own position on the road. This impairs their ability to make rational decisions and react appropriately to the things around them. Drunk drivers commonly swerve out of their lanes and even mistakenly end up in oncoming traffic. Additionally, alcohol acts as a type of sedative, making people drowsy, so drunk drivers are more likely to cause accidents by falling asleep at the wheel.
The answer to preventing accidents caused by impaired driving is simple: don’t drive while under the influence. If you’re going out for the night and think you might drink, then you should have an alternate plan for getting home. Arrange for someone in your group to be the designated driver and ensure that they don’t drink. Alternatively, you could take public transit, like the L, a bus, a taxi, or a car from a rideshare app. If you’re drinking at a friend or family member’s house, you might even be comfortable enough to stay the night and drive home in the morning when you’re sober. There is always an alternative option that beats getting behind the wheel while under the influence.
Reckless driving encompasses actions that knowingly put others at risk. This could include driving with your emotions. ‘Road rage’ is an all too common issue. Drivers who have a difficult time managing their anger will ignore safety to instead prioritize communicating their rage to other drivers. This typically involves tailgating drivers who are too slow or the reverse of brake-checking drivers who are tailgating. Additionally, reckless driving includes not following traffic laws by speeding, failing to use signals, running stop signs and red lights, or ignoring right-of-way rules. All of these actions greatly increase your chances of being involved in an accident.
You can lower your chances of accidents caused by reckless driving by following the rules of the road. Laws like these exist to ensure the safety of everyone on the road. By obtaining your license and getting behind the wheel of a car, you are agreeing to protect other drivers by following these rules and managing your emotions. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the speed limit of the area you’re driving in, use all appropriate signals, and leave enough space between you and other vehicles so that you have time to react if something goes wrong.
Motorcycle accidents have many causes. They are not only limited to distracted driving, impaired driving, or otherwise reckless driving. Sometimes drivers simply fail to see motorcycles on the road and accidentally merge into them or otherwise cut them off. This is why the most important thing you can do to keep motorcyclists safe is to be aware of them. Knowing where bikers are on the road allows you to give them a safe amount of space at all times, providing them with the protection they deserve.
Featured Image by David Harper from Pixabay