As we thaw from a frigid winter season, motorcycle enthusiasts are eager to ride.
The problem is as they emerge from their winter hibernation, car and truck drivers aren’t used to watching out for them. Motorcyclists must drive defensively, or risk a potential crash. Bangor motorcycle injury lawyers note several such incidents recently in the state.
- One crash resulted in the death of a 30-year-old motorcyclist in Bath who was struck by a car when the 46-year-old driver turned left. Authorities are still investigating, and have yet to assign fault, though they don’t believe alcohol was a factor.
- Another crash happened in Hancock, where a motorcyclist had to be flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital after he flipped over a guardrail and fell some 40 feet down the side of an embankment along Route 1. The 59-year-old suffered serious injuries after he lost control of his motorcycle for reasons that were not unclear. Maine State Police assumed the investigation, which is still ongoing.
- Then in Rumford, a 33-year-old Peru native was seriously hurt when the brakes on his motorcycle apparently failed and he struck a guardrail on Route 2. Both of the rider’s legs were broken.
- Most recently, a couple from Nobleboro were seriously injured when their bike struck another motorcyclist who had slowed down for a vehicle making a turn into a plaza.
Almost all motorcycle crashes are preventable, though that requires both the rider and other motorists to use appropriate caution.
The National Highway Traffic Safety administration reported that in 2012 (the most recent year for which figures are available) the number of motorcycle deaths increased by more than 7 percent nationwide, from 4,630 in 2011 to nearly 5,000 in 2012. There was also a 15 percent increase in the number of motorcyclists injured, from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012 – an increase of some 12,000 injuries.
The federal safety agency noted there were 10 times as many un-helmeted fatal motorcycle crashes in states without helmet laws than those with. In Maine, anyone under 18 on a motorcycle has to wear a helmet, as well as first-year licensees and those with learner’s permits.
Back in the 1970s, the federal government withheld construction funds to states that failed to adopt universal motorcycle helmet laws, and Maine ceded. However, in 1977 the helmet laws began to relax, and it’s now one of 30 states that does not require a helmet for adult riders.
Legislators tried last year to push for a universal helmet law, but avid riders mounted a fierce push-back.
Riders who choose not to wear helmets may still file a personal injury lawsuit in the event they are hurt, depending on the circumstances of the crash. Of course, we’d prefer the crash be avoided in the first place. That’s why we’re offering this spring motorcycle safety spring checklist:
- Check your motorcycle before you take it out. Make sure your tire pressure is good, there are no damages or cracks in the wheels, all your controls and gauges are properly functioning and that your shocks didn’t freeze.
- Wear protective gear such as helmet, gloves, eye wear or goggles and boots.
- Ride defensively. This means anticipating the actions of others, remaining alert, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles and placing yourself in the best place to maximize your visibility.
- Give an extra glance over your shoulder before you carry out any maneuvers so you can make sure you know where others are and what they’re doing. This simple move alone may save your life.
If you are the victim of a Bangor motorcycle accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
2012 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration