May is Motorcycle Awareness Month

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month around the country. Motorists and motorcycle riders are encouraged to share the road with safe driving practices that help to promote alertness and reduce accidents and injuries throughout the year. Prevention will reduce injuries and fatalities and the need for a personal injury lawyer Chicago.

Share the Road Campaign

Throughout the month of May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sponsoring a Share the Road Campaign across America. In conjunction with Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the campaign is intended to raise automobile driver awareness of motorcyclists on the road and prevent motorcycle accidents, serious injuries and fatalities.

As summer weather approaches, the number of motorcyclists on America’s roads and highways increase significantly. Statistics show that fatal motorcycle crashes are on the rise. In 2014, over 4,500 motorcyclists were killed nationwide in traffic accidents, accounting for 14 percent of total highway fatalities. In 2014 in Illinois, there were 118 motorcyclists killed, accounting for 11.6 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities that year. In addition, there were almost 500 motorcycle accidents in Chicago, accounting for 10 percent of all motorcycle crash injuries statewide. In Illinois, serious injuries and fatalities require a personal injury lawyer Chicago who knows complex state laws and can protect a victim’s legal rights.

The Share the Road Campaign hopes to educate both motorists and motorcycle riders on safer driving techniques and the use of proper safety equipment. Education focuses on specific safety challenges for automobile drivers and motorcycle riders with general safety tips:

  • Rights of the Road – Although motorcycles are smaller than cars, they have full rights of the road. Allow a motorcycle full lane width at all times.
  • Visibility – Check all blind spots and mirrors for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging into oncoming traffic and intersections.
  • Signaling – Always use signals when merging with traffic or changing lanes. Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling, so be sure the motorcyclist is actually turning.
  • Following – Always allow at least a three to four second distance when following a motorcycle to promote safety in an emergency stop.
  • Distractions – Never drive a car or motorcycle when distracted or impaired.

Motorcyclists are also encouraged to increase rider safety with specific safety tips:

  • Be properly licensed
  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Wear protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet
  • Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing
  • Ride in the middle of the lane and avoid weaving between cars

Motorcycle Safety in Illinois

In Illinois, people who want to get a motorcycle license must complete both written and driving exams that are administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). If the applicant has completed an IDOT motorcycle safety course, this requirement can be waived. The IDOT motorcycle safety course is free to all Illinois residents 16 years of age or older who hold a valid motorcycle or automobile permit or license. Individuals under 18 years of age must have written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

According to IDOT statistics, there are many reasons for both fatal and non-fatal motorcycle crashes that result in serious injuries. Some of the reasons cited include mechanical problems; motorcycle loss of control; excessive speed; reckless driving; various road hazards; and driver intoxication due to alcohol and/or drugs.

Motorcycle loss of control is often caused by over-braking or under-braking. Over-braking can cause a driver to lose steering control, which can lead to the front wheels or the back wheels locking up. Excessive speeds also contribute to loss of control, especially on unfamiliar routes and when going around curves. In Illinois, there have been numerous instances of motorcyclists colliding with deer, especially during the fall when deer often migrate and cross roadways unexpectedly. Loss of control on a motorcycle can easily result in a sudden crash and serious injuries that require medical attention and legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer Chicago.

According to Illinois statistics, 42 percent of motorcycle accidents that result in serious injuries or fatalities are caused by motorcycle operator intoxication due to alcohol or drugs. Accident reports show blood alcohol content ranges from 0.01 to 0.30, with an average range of 0.14. Out of 59 operators who died, 80 percent had a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motorcyclists are at much higher risk of serious injury or death when driving while intoxicated. A personal injury lawyer Chicago can provide legal help with an Illinois DUI accident.

Although motorcycles represent only three percent of total vehicle registrations in Illinois, they account for almost 15 percent of all traffic fatalities. According to 2015 IDOT data, there were 998 traffic fatalities in Illinois. Of those, 146 were motorcyclists, a fatality increase of 28 percent from 2014.