Roughly 88,000 motorcyclists are injured every year, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than 4,500 motorcyclists are killed each year.
Because motorcycles are relatively small vehicles and drivers and riders often very unprotected compared to cars and trucks, the injuries they sustain can be quite severe. Recovering from motorcycle accidents can take time, medical interventions, physical therapy, and more.
What are the most common motorcycle accident injuries?
Leg and foot injuries
The most common motorcycle injuries are to the legs and feet, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Thirty percent of all motorcycle-related injuries occur there. These can range from fractured legs to broken ankles.
Head injuries occur in 22% of all motorcycle accidents. They can range from a concussion, which can be temporary, to traumatic brain injury, which can be permanent. Traumatic brain injury can cause permanent mental impairment and paralysis. Unfortunately, in these type of accidents, much depends on the impact as a driver or passenger crashes or is thrown from the motorcycle, and where they land.
Neck injuries also occur in 22% of motorcycle accidents, so head and neck injuries are tied for second place in terms of frequency. Like head injuries, neck injuries can be minor or result in major and lasting trauma.
While both head and neck injuries are less common than injuries to legs and feet, they can often be far more severe. A broken leg or sprained ankle will heal. Head and neck injuries can cause lasting damage. Because of the severity of head and neck injuries, all motorcyclists and passengers should always wear Department of Transportation-approved helmets when riding.
Upper trunk injuries
The fourth most common injuries on a motorcycle are those that medical professionals refer to with the term “upper trunk” — your chest, shoulders, and back. Like the other injuries, the severity of these depend on the impact severity and where the motorcyclist is hit.
Lower trunk injuries
Finally, the fifth most common injuries on a motorcycle are to the lower trunk, the hips and pelvis. Like the others, these injuries depend on the impact and nature of the accident.
Seasoned motorcycle accident attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need attorneys seasoned in how to counsel you on a potential case. A motorcycle accident might involve personal injury and thus negligence on the part of another driver or on the part of the state in maintaining a road. Claims can be brought for damages related to medical care, prescriptions, physical therapy, lost wages, re-training, and more.
For your convenience, the Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm has two Louisiana offices, one in Baton Rouge and one in Lafayette. Our clients include local people and those from out of state who need advice from experienced LA motorcycle crash attorneys.
For a free consultation, call today or contact me online.
Additional “motorcycle injury” resources:
- Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts. Motorcycles. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812148
- Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Lower-Extremity Injuries in Motorcycle Crashes. August 2008. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/810982
- Siler, Wes. “What Body Parts Will You Most Likely Injure in a Motorcycle Crash?” Rideapart.com. December 24, 2013. https://rideapart.com/articles/body-parts-will-likely-injure-motorcycle-crash
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a public safety campaign that urges both motorcyclists and motorists to exercise caution when sharing the road. The warmer, sunnier days lead to more motorcycles on the road – and more motorcycle accidents.
Top causes of Louisiana motorcycle accidents include left hand turns, driver inexperience, alcohol use, speeding, and traveling during rush hour. No matter what type of vehicle you’re driving, understanding how to reduce these risks is necessary to prevent serious, life-threatening injuries from occurring.
Louisiana motorcycle accident statistics
Louisiana State University data analysis from 2015 found that:
- Of the 159,265 licensed motorcycle drivers in Lafayette Parish, there were 4 fatalities and 87 serious injuries.
- Of the 267,690 licensed motorcycle drivers in East Baton Rouge, there were 2 fatalities and 164 injuries.
One study ranked Louisiana as having “the worst motorcycle drivers” in America, with 49 fatalities per million miles driven. Louisiana bikers also incurred 41 citations for driving drunk, 18 failure to obey tickets, and 47 citations for careless driving.
Motorcyclist safety tips
Motorcyclists are at greater risk of sustaining serious injury when paired against a heavier and better protected motor vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “motorcyclists are about 27 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash, and 6 times as likely to be injured.”
Motorcyclists are advised to:
- Call 800-446-9227 to find the nearest defensive driving course for motorcyclists.
- Wear proper protective gear such as a DOT-standard helmet and reflective clothing.
- Maintain motorcycles with regular state-required inspections.
- Get accustomed to a new bike in a well-controlled area before taking it into traffic.
- Be familiar with the roads they are traveling, looking out for road hazards like potholes or blind curves.
- Know the forecasted weather conditions before departing.
- Proceed cautiously at intersections, yielding to pedestrians and other vehicles.
- Be aware of their surroundings at all times, double-checking blind spots and signaling before changing lanes, passing, or turning.
Driver safety tips
An automobile driver’s life can change in the blink of an eye. No one wants to be held responsible for negligence that kills or disables another person. Motor vehicle drivers must:
- Avoid distraction – whether it’s drinking, eating, texting, fiddling with the radio or GPS, or talking to passengers.
- Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, especially when changing lanes or turning at intersections.
- Predict that oncoming motorcycles will arrive faster than imagined, since they often appear further away.
- Allow 3-4 seconds of following distance, since many motorcyclists roll off the throttle instead of braking.
- Wear sunglasses and use visors to reduce glare, so motorcycles are more visible.
- Avoid making turns or changing lanes when the view is obstructed.
Louisiana motorcycle accident lawyer
Need a Louisiana motorcycle accident lawyer? Contact Bart Bernard in Baton Rouge or Lafayette. For the past two decades, he has taken on some of the most challenging automobile accident cases – and won. He was ranked among the top 1% of trial lawyers and received the Trial Lawyers Board of Regents Litigator Award in 2015. Bart Bernard has maintained a reputation for securing large settlements and awards for motorcycle accident victims. Contact him today for a free case evaluation.
Additional motorcycle safety resources:
- Data Reports – Motorcycle Crashes, http://datareports.lsu.edu/Reports.aspx?yr=2015&rpt=H7A&p=ci
- Cyril Huze Blog – Study Reveals Worst Motorcycle Drivers By State, http://cyrilhuzeblog.com/2012/07/05/study-reveals-worst-motorcycle-drivers-by-state-mississippi-is-worst/
- NHTSA – Motorcycle Safety, https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles
- CBS – 9 crucial safety tips for motorcycle season, http://www.cbs8.com/story/12541123/9-crucial-safety-tips-for-motorcycle-season
Motorcycle riding can be an exhilarating means of travel – and is one that has grown in popularity across the nation. However, operating a motorcycle is not without risks since bikers are so vulnerable to life-threatening injury in the event of a crash. State highway traffic data indicates that nearly 5,000 Americans were killed on motorcycles in 2015 – a staggering 10 percent increase compared with the previous year. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are on average 27 times more likely than car occupants to die in an accident, and almost five times more likely to suffer grave injuries.
We already know that excessive speed, negligent rider behavior and lack of protective gear all contribute to the risk of being harmed in a motorcycle crash, but given the rising number of deaths, it’s important to look at research that highlights key factors that increase motorcycle accident (and death) risk.
Factors that Increase Motorcycle Fatality Risks
Recent data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Governors Highway Safety Association’s (GHSA) underscores some of the dangers facing motorcyclists today. The following are some of the biggest risk factors:
- Older riders – motorcyclists who are over the age of 40 are more susceptible to being killed in an accident. In 2015, 54 percent of motorcycle fatalities were people aged 40 or over.
- Male riders – 91 percent of motorcyclists killed in 2015 were males.
- Motorcyclists who do not wear helmets – Failing to wear a safety helmet can increase fatality risk by as much as 30 percent. Louisiana helmet laws mandate that all motorcyclists and passengers –regardless of age – wear DOT-approved safety helmets with chin straps.
- Aggressive riding behavior – According to research by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, aggressive behavior including speeding or passing on the right is linked to an 18-fold increased risk in crash. 35 percent of deadly crashes involve a speeding motorcyclist.
- Motorcyclists whose engines are larger – In 2015, 31 percent of all motorcycle fatalities involved bikes with engine sizes larger than 1,400 cc.
- Motorcyclists impaired by alcohol or drugs – In 2015, 27 percent of motorcycle riders who died in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit. Statistically, bikers between the ages of 35 to 39 were more likely to be fatally injured because of alcohol use.
- Inexperienced motorcyclists without training/skill – The Motorcycle Safety Foundation reports that lack of knowledge and skill of motorcycle riding is tied to a 9-fold increased accident risk.
- Operating a motorcycle without a valid driver’s license – In 2015, an estimated 27 percent of motorcycle deaths occurred in bikers who did not have a valid driver’s license.
- Motorcycle type – In 2015, the majority of motorcycle accident deaths involved cruising/ standard bikes and touring motorcycles.
- City dwellers – 49 percent of motorcycle accident deaths occur in urban areas, and more than half of all fatalities occur on major roads, versus freeways and interstates.
Louisiana motorcycle accident lawyer
If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to seek legal counsel who can establish liability and pursue compensation for your damages and injuries. Damages recovered in a personal injury claim can include those for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, property damages, and out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the accident. Bart Bernard is not only a top-rated motorcycle accident attorney in Louisiana who gives each client the attention and respect they deserve.
To schedule a free consultation in Lafayette or Baton Rouge, please call the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bart Bernard today.
Additional “Motorcycle Accident Fatality” Resources:
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Motorcycles and ATVs http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles
- Insurance Information Institute, Motorcycle Crashes http://www.iii.org/issue-update/motorcycle-crashes
- Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Factors that Increase and Decrease Motorcyclist Crash Risk https://www.msf-usa.org/downloads/msf100_2016/Risk_Factors_From_MSF_100_Study_Paper.pdf
- Governors Highway Safety Association’s (GHSA) Motorcyclist Deaths Surge 10% in 2015 http://www.ghsa.org/resources/new-data-motorcyclist-deaths-surge-10-2015
Fatalities from motorcycle accidents comprise 5% of all traffic deaths per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcycle crashes claimed the lives of nearly 4,700 people in 2015, which was more than double the number in 1997, as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Road hazards are one of the most frequent causes of motorcycle accidents.
Road hazards exist for all forms of vehicles, of course. But road conditions that pose little or no danger to cars, such as highway expansion joints, can cause major accidents for a motorcycle. This is especially true in inclement weather.
And, of course, motorcyclists are relatively unprotected in the event of an accident. Helmets can reduce injuries, particularly to the head. But not all states mandate helmets. There are not several thousand pounds of metal protecting motorcyclists as there are with cars.
As a result, motorcyclists should watch out for the top 5 road hazards that cause motorcycle accidents. Being aware of road hazards is an essential part of a motorcycle driver and rider safety plan.
Road Hazard #1: Rough Roads
Roads that are rough and bumpy are the #1 road hazard for motorcyclists. Motorcyclists should make every effort to avoid construction work, resurfacing, or just roads in poor condition.
Road Hazard #2: Gravel
Gravel can cause a motorcyclist to spin or a driver to lose control. It is particularly dangerous when turning a corner. It tends to be more prevalent on rural, winding roads. Bikers like to use these roads because they’re scenic, but need to pay close attention to the gravel hazard.
Road Hazard #3: Edge Breaks
Edge breaks occur when two adjacent traffic lanes are not the same height. This can be noticeable in a car, but isn’t dangerous. It can be dangerous for motorcyclists, though, as it affects operation of the vehicle.
Road Hazard #4: Expansion Joints
Expansion joints suture two sections of a road together, or a road to a bridge. They are a means for the road to expand or contract as needed without cracking the surface. These are especially dangerous for motorcyclists in inclement weather.
Road Hazard #5: Open Bridge Joints
Joints are also used to hold separate sections of a bridge together, for the same reason expansion joints are used on roads. On bridges, though, some joints are quite wide. The width and the variability in surface also can make it hard for motorcyclists to maintain control of their vehicle. Inclement weather increases the danger here as well.
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident in Louisiana
Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm is experienced in motorcycle accident law. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to the negligence of another party on a Louisiana road, we can provide advice on your rights at no charge to you.
For a free consultation with a Baton Rouge or Lafayette motorcycle accident lawyer, call today or contact us online.
Additional “road hazards and motorcycle accidents” resources:
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Highway Loss Data Institute. Motorcycles. Motorcycles and ATVs. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcycle Safety. https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/motosafety.html
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Motor Vehicle Safety. Motorcycle Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/mc/index.html
Each year, there are roughly 2,000 accidents involving motorcycles in Louisiana, including more than 80 biker fatalities. “Some of it are people not driving up to their ability; some of those crashes involved people not being aware of motorcycles in the area,” said Trooper Bryan Lee with the Louisiana State Police. Most accidents are caused by a variety of factors, including:
1. Left hand turns
The most dangerous situation for motorcycle drivers is approaching an intersection where cars are attempting to turn left. Cars making lefts are involved in 42 percent of all motorcycle accidents. Usually, cars strike motorcyclists who are driving straight through the intersection or attempting to pass. The car driver may misjudge the motorcycle’s speed or fail to realize a motorcycle is coming at all due to blind spots, inattention, or distraction.
2. Driver inexperience
The HURT Report, the most comprehensive motorcycle safety study ever done, found that more than half of motorcycle accident victims had less than five months of experience on the bike they were riding at the time and about 3 years of riding experience in total. Two-thirds of all accidents involved a slide-out from a preventable biker error, such as over-braking, taking a turn too wide, speeding, or under-cornering. The Louisiana Motorcycle Safety Program has trained over 200,000 local riders within the last 40 years.
3. Alcohol use
The NHTSA reported that 29 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol concentrations at or above the legal limit of .08 percent. Comparatively, 22 percent of motor vehicle drivers in fatal crashes were intoxicated at the time. In total, almost half of all motorcycle accidents involve some type of alcohol use. Other factors in these crashes include: low visibility from driving at night, inexperience with an average age between 35-39, and reckless behavior such as riding without a helmet.
The NHTSA also found that a third of motorcyclists killed in crashes were speeding at the time, compared to 20 percent of passenger car drivers, 17 percent of light truck drivers, and 7 percent of large truck drivers. Some motorcyclists are more likely to speed than others. More than half (57%) of super sport motorcycles were traveling in excess of the posted speed limit at the time of their accidents, compared to 27 percent of cruisers or standards, and 22 percent of touring motorcycles. The HURT Report found that 1 in 1,000 accidents involved motorcycles traveling over 86 mph. Speeding usually results in cars missing the oncoming cyclist entirely, and cyclists being ejected off their bikes.
5. Time of day
The most dangerous time of day to travel by bike is on the weekdays between 3-6pm. During rush hour, the largest percentage of motorcyclists are killed (24%) or injured (34.2%). Around this time of day, there is higher than normal volume of cars, more noise, and glare from the setting sun. Glare or view obstruction was cited in about half of all multiple vehicle accidents, according to the HURT Report. The early morning hours before 9 am are the safest for motorcycle travel.
Need a Louisiana motorcycle accident lawyer?
It has been estimated that less than 10 percent of motorcycle riders have sufficient insurance to cover medical or property damage involved in a crash. Passenger car drivers are responsible for 60 percent of collisions with motorcycles, according to a 10-year review of Urban Transportation Research crash data. Get the help you deserve to hold those accountable for your accident and obtain compensation to ease your burden! Lafayette and Baton Rouge Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Bart Bernard is in the Multi-Million-Dollar Advocates Forum, recognized for his outstanding achievements in winning huge settlements for his clients. Contact Bart Bernard for a free case review. All legal assistance is free until the case has been won!
Additional “causes of motorcycle crashes” resources
- KSLA – State Police works to cut back on motorcycle deaths in Louisiana http://www.ksla.com/story/31041131/state-police-works-to-cut-back-on-motorcycle-deaths-in-louisiana
- III – Motorcycle Crashes http://www.iii.org/issue-update/motorcycle-crashes
- USC Traffic Safety Center – The Hurt Report http://isddc.dot.gov/OLPFiles/NHTSA/013695.pdf
- Florida Sun Sentinel – Car drivers cause most crashes with motorcycles, study finds http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-03-09/news/fl-finding-fault-in-motorcycle-crashes-20130309_1_motorcycle-crashes-chanyoung-lee-motorcycle-riders
- Ride Apart – 10 Common Motorcycle Accidents and How To Avoid Them https://rideapart.com/articles/10-common-motorcycle-accidents-and-how-to-avoid-them