Taking your motorcycle out for a spin on Texas roads, in the fall or any time, can be a fun pastime. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous. In 2018, 418 motorcyclists were killed in accidents in Texas, while 1,927 sustained very serious injuries according to the Texas Department of Transportation. An additional 2,932 were injured less seriously. That’s nearly eight deaths due to motorcycle accidents on Texas roads every week.
Motorcycle accidents are frequently fatal and incapacitating because motorcyclists can be hit by vehicles—trucks, SUVs, and cars –much larger and heavier than they are. Motorcyclists themselves are comparatively unprotected from the impact or from being thrown from the bike.
Helmets, which can provide some protection for a biker’s head, are required in Texas unless motorcyclists have very specific health insurance. Fatalities from motorcycle accidents in Texas are split roughly 50 percent/50 percent between helmeted and unhelmeted riders, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In addition, many events can cause motorcycle accidents. A spray of gravel, which would not affect larger vehicles, can cause a motorcycle to spin out. The result can be broken bones, sprains, contusions, or “road rash”—a series of mini-cuts and abrasions that motorcyclists receive from hitting pavement, gravel, or other road surfaces directly.
What are the most common motorcycle accidents in Texas? Read on.
Collisions are one of the most frequent types of accidents for all vehicles, including motorcycles. Motorcycles can be hit by cars, trucks, buses, and even bicycles. They can be rear-ended, hit head-on, t-boned (broadsided), or sideswiped.
One of the most common factors in motorcycle collisions, and one unique to motorcycles, is the failure of other vehicle drivers to notice motorcycles on the road. One of the most common types of motorcycle collisions, for example, is a car turning left while the motorcycle is driving straight through an intersection. In a right-of-way situation, the straight-driving vehicle—the motorcycle—has the right of way. But many cars don’t notice the motorcycle, and turn left into the intersection while the motorcyclist with the right of way heads into the intersection.
What’s the solution? Larger vehicles need to be aware of motorcycles, just as they are of other vehicles. And motorcyclists should drive defensively, knowing that other vehicle drivers might fail to notice them.
Hitting a Vehicle Door
Vehicle driver inattentiveness is also a leading cause of motorcycle accidents. When a driver opens the door to get out of the parked vehicle without checking to see if the way is clear, the door may hit the motorcycle directly or be opened into their path too late for the motorcycle to stop. The motorcycle may also skid out as the cyclist slams on the brakes.
Collisions or damage to the cycle can occur if vehicle drivers change lanes without noticing a motorcyclist either in their path or too close. Vehicle drivers who don’t use their turn signals can also surprise a motorcycle rider as they fail to give warning that they are entering the motorcycle’s lane.
Overuse of Alcohol
Alcohol and driving don’t mix. Nationwide, roughly 25 percent of people killed in motorcycle accidents have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or above, signaling legal intoxication, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the age cohort of people 35 to 39 years old, 38 percent of motorcycle fatalities involve drunk driving.
Texas accident fatalities involve an unusually high level of alcohol impairment across all vehicle types. 39 percent of Texas traffic fatalities are related to alcohol impairment, compared to only 29 percent across the nation, according to the NHTSA. Those drunk drivers pose extraordinary dangers to motorcycle riders
Road Obstacles and Hazards
Road obstacles and hazards can be a danger to all vehicles, but they are a greater danger to motorcycles because of their small size and the fact that riders don’t have much protection. Flying debris from a car or truck can be deadly, for example. Tire treads from a punctured tire can be hazardous. Potholes, ungraded pavement, or uneven levels in lanes can cause cyclists to lose control balance. Sand and gravel can also pose hazards.
Speeding vehicles can cause accidents in two ways. First, speeding impacts the driver’s ability to react in time to a sudden event, such as another vehicle’s lane change or violation of right-of-way rules. Second, even if the driver does react, the car may not be able to stop in time to prevent a crash. Accidents that occur because of speeding are also likely to be more serious than those that occur at normal speeds, because the force of the impact is greater.
Most people think of speeding as going faster than the posted speed limit. But speeding also means going faster than is safe for the circumstances. If there’s a traffic jam, a torrential downpour, or the roads are dimly lit, slower speeds may be called for.
I Was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident. Can I Seek Damages?
If you’ve been injured in a Texas motorcycle accident due to another person’s actions, it may be possible to seek compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. A legal case must demonstrate the other party was negligent. Negligence means failing to abide by the appropriate standard of care.
Drivers, for example, are always expected to operate their vehicles safely, paying attention to speed limits, right-of-way rules, other traffic laws, and the environment. If they don’t, they can be judged negligent, which means they are responsible for the accident and liable for the damages caused by the accident.
If your motorcycle accident was caused by road conditions, such as uneven pavement or unrepaired potholes, it may also be possible to bring a suit against the government entity responsible for road design, maintenance, and repair.
Compensation for damages can include medical bills, future medical bills, wages lost from work, expected wages lost from work, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
If you or a loved one need more information or assistance after a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney today.