When Guardrails Turn Dangerous

October 31, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for burned out bikeGeorgia on Two Wheels has posted in the past about the dangers of guardrails to motorcycle riders, and to vehicles in general, during a collision. Just this past week, a couple riding their bike in California rounded a curve, hit a guardrail and were fatally injured. They were wearing helmets, reportedly speed was a factor in the crash. Such tragedy seems unlikely given that guardrails are supposed to protect, not kill. But many unsuspecting riders and drivers are unaware of the inherent dangers in many guardrail systems. Drivers assume that these roadside structures are intended to keep them safe on impact. But unfortunately, the opposite can be the case. Last year, we posted about a Marietta man who was killed when his bike crashed into a guard rail in a single bike crash. Guardrails are not only dangerous to riders in a collision, but drivers in general in four wheel vehicles. We have just learned that the Georgia Department of Transportation will no longer use a particular type of guardrail due to safety concerns. Due to pending litigation involving a particular guardrail system, they have issued a moratorium on the installation of the guardrails until further testing is completed.

The particular guardrail in question is called the "ET-Plus." An investigative report by Channel 2, WSBTV noted that a passenger was killed when part of a guardrail entered the vehicle in which he was riding struck the guardrail. Although this type of guardrail is intended to keep motorcycle riders, cars and trucks safe, there is a big issue with these guardrails. In the horrific injury involved in the I-285 crash, the guardrail actually went through a door of the vehicle and struck the passenger. Otherwise, that portion of the vehicle was actually not at all impacted during the crash. The victim's family was left to grieve a loss of life that was avoidable, the worst pain of all.

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A Cell Phone, a Red Light and the End of a Biker's Life

September 19, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000003222033XSmall.jpgThe danger of intersections for bikers was brought home again this week as a Paulding County man was killed on his bike. The 55-year-old beloved grandfather was on his way to a bike rally. His life was cut short when another vehicle failed to stop at a red light and attempted a left turn through an intersection which the biker was entering at the time. Other bikers ran to help the victim, but tragically he had been struck and was dragged quite a distance after he was hit. He ended up under the vehicle. His wife was one of the other bikers traveling with the victim. It is possible that the driver of the vehicle that allegedly struck the biker may have been talking on her cell phone at the time of the crash. Reports indicated that other drivers stopped at the intersection, while she continued to drive through it and some witnesses report seeing her on her phone. This is not confirmed.

The driver has now been charged in the biker's death. Charges against the driver include those found in Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393 for homicide by vehicle, as well as failing to stop at a red light. The biker's happy trip to the Georgia State HOG Rally was cut short so tragically and needlessly.

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Biker Hurt in Georgia State 144 Crash

August 26, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for burned out bikeThis past week, a Georgia State Route 144 motorcycle crash resulted in a life flight to Memorial Medical Health University. The rider was said to have been traveling eastbound when the truck in front of him began to make a turn or was stopped. Unfortunately, the bike hit the left rear wheel of a truck and ended up on its side, sliding across the road with its rider on it. It was reported by the Georgia State Patrol that the biker may not have been able to see the truck's rear lights due to cargo that was strapped to the back of the truck. It is uncertain whether charges will be filed against either driver.

Coming up on a road hazard is not actually a rare occurrence. All riders need to be prepared to know what to do when out of the blue, a vehicle or other hazard appears. Although we do not know whether there was a way for the rider to avoid hitting this truck, given the issue with the truck's brake lights being concealed by cargo, we thought it might be helpful to go through some braking tips in case a reader encounters a road hazard and needs to quickly avert and take defensive action.

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Arrests in Morningside Cyclist Hit and Run

July 17, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1214589454Q2B5aO.jpgLast month, we posted about a Morningside hit and run involving a person driving a vehicle and a cyclist, which apparently was the result a previous interaction between the two. The vehicle's driver has now been arrested. The accident ... which authorities allege was an intentional collision ... seriously injured a cyclist who was hospitalized for an extended time and is now recovering from brain trauma at another location under medical care. The suspect in the hit and run was taken into custody and is charged with several serious charges, including attempted murder and serious injury by vehicle found in Official Code of Georgia sections 16-4-1, 16-4-1(a) and 40-6-394. The cyclist and the vehicle's driver had an interchange only minutes prior to the hit and run. Although he tried to extricate himself from the verbal altercation, the cyclist was tracked down and according to police intentionally struck by the driver. In addition, another person (apparently the driver's girlfriend) has been arrested for evidence tampering. This too is a serious crime in Georgia set out in Official Code of Georgia section 16-10-94 which prohibits interfering with evidence or with the apprehension or prosecution of persons involved in potentially criminal activities.

The hit and run appears to have been solved through the offering of a reward and the type of investigative work we have discussed previously in hit and run accidents. In this situation, the authorities were able to locate evidence that matched up to the arrested suspect's vehicle. In addition, the reports on the arrests reveal that investigators also had some video recorded evidence that shows the suspect's girlfriend who has also been arrested, with doing something with the evidence in their possession. The investigation was also greatly guided and supported with the use of video from the scene. Cameras captured an unusual sequence of events that unfolded on a quiet evening in Morningside.

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Drunk Driver Causes Motorcycle Passenger Death

June 29, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for burned out bikeWhen riders get out on their bikes on a summer evening, the expectation is that the ride will be safe and sound. Over this past weekend an accident took place in the early morning hours on the Downtown Connector involving two traveling on a Suzuki GSX. A car driven by an allegedly drunk driver attempted a lane change which resulted in a swipe or clip collision with the motorcycle. The female passenger riding on the back of the bike ended up on the roadway and was then allegedly run over by the car.

The car's driver was tested for alcohol and was found to have nearly double the legal limit. That driver has been charged with several violations of Georgia law, including first degree homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence and other related violations. The bike's driver left the scene when his passenger -- who had been struck by the car -- did not respond to him. She lost her life, apparently at the scene of the accident. There is no information on why he left the scene or what his condition was at the time, but he too has now been charged in the accident with various violations. He is reported to have sought medical treatment at Grady Memorial Hospital and he too was charged with some violations of Georgia law including first-degree homicide by vehicle and hit and run.

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Atlanta Driver Sought After Injury and Assault to Cyclist

June 17, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bicycles on georgia roadEarlier this month, a cyclist ended up in critical condition after an incident in Morningside. The situation is complicated by the fact that a driver involved in this incident has not yet been located and the police are asking for the public's help. The police have said they need anyone with information to help find an SUV driver who allegedly intentionally struck the cyclist after a traffic incident. After viewing videos of the situation, authorities intend to charge the driver of the SUV with aggravated assault which is found in Official Code of Georgia section 16-5-21. They need to find him first. A $15,000 reward has now been raised to help find the suspect.

The cyclist who remains hospitalized with catastrophic injuries to his head and neck, was struck by an SUV after what appears to be an altercation. The authorities have been assisted by a video that shows an SUV driving on Flagler Avenue in one direction, going out of view and then driving in the opposite direction. The video also reveals the cyclist riding very fast in that same direction being followed by the SUV. Those who witnessed the event, have told the police that they heard a verbal dispute between the driver and the cyclist prior to the cyclist being struck. The cyclist had a close call with the SUV on an intersecting road prior to being hit on Flagler. The cyclist apparently was speeding off trying to avoid being further involved with the driver when allegedly (and the video indicates this) the SUV driver turned around to follow him and allegedly to intentionally strike him. The vehicle involved is a Dodge Nitro, in a burgundy color. It is anticipated that there might be damage to this SUV.

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Alleged Evidence Tampering After Gwinnett Biker's Death

May 20, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for burned out bikeWe have posted previously on hit and run accidents that are becoming more and more prevalent across the country. We have also posted on situations in which individuals attempt to hide their vehicles from authorities, get them painted or repaired, or otherwise attempt to dispose of them to avoid being criminally charged in these accidents. A recent Gwinnett County fatal accident has brought attention to several other illegal actions alleged to have been taken after an accident that took place last month. This situation, ending in the death of one man who had been riding his motorcycle, has turned out to be something quite different than was first understood.

In late April, a Gwinnett County accident involved the collision of cars and a motorcycle. At first, this tragic situation that ended the life of the biker, appeared to be a simple accident among friends coming home after a night out. But after investigation, the authorities have determined and allege that five individuals were involved in something more, including first degree vehicular homicide. Some have also been charged with evidence tampering and a number of other charges that include reckless driving and hit and run. Piecing together the sequence of events, and what apparently occurred to cause the death that occurred, authorities have concluded that a great deal more happened that night than what was first understood.

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Riders Take Note: BMW Recalls Many 2013 Bikes

April 14, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for helmet-on-bicycle-10045610.jpgWe like to keep our readers informed on many aspects of riding. Safety and recalls associated with bikes, are among the things all riders should know about before getting on the road. Recently, it came to our attention that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is recalling many BMW models from the model year 2013. If you have a 2013 BMW please click the link here to learn about which models are being recalled. There are about eight models and about 4500 bikes that have the issue of concern which is a big one. The problem that has been detected is the potential for water to infiltrate the side stand switch. This is turn can cause the bike to stop running or to fail to start. The company has found that in rain or washing conditions, water has become a culprit and a possibly very dangerous one at that. Thankfully, there are no reports of bikers being injured or having accidents due to this issue.

The other big issue with this recall is that the manufacturer has stated that all the bikes in the group have this potential condition. Why? Because according to BMW, the entity that supplied this switch to the company did not make the side-stand switch according to specs. The situation occurred after there was a change in the tooling of the part and the supplier did not make the changes that were called for by BMW. The good news is that BMW learned of this problem when a vehicle it was testing shut down during a test ride. The supplier was then asked to test their part and it was determined that the manufacturing was flawed. To find out more about this problem or any other recall involving vehicles by NHTSA, you can visit BMW motorcycles.

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Good as Gold, but Fast?

March 2, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Motorcycle riders in the sunset.jpgIf you thought you had seen the most beautiful of bikes every created, you might be wrong unless you attended the recent sale reported by Robert Frank in his piece Road Hog: $1 Million Motorcycle Coming Soon. Mr. Frank reports that a Danish custom motorcycle guru has now sold a very very golden bike to the tune of $850,000. But is there even greater gold ahead? Apparently, this same maker has hinted at a new endeavor that will result in a bike that is likely to be sold at One Million Dollars.

First, the bike that just sold which has been aptly named "Goldfinger," is quite sparkly with not only gold plated parts, diamonds as well. Tough to miss this one on the afternoon ride. Naturally, a private buyer owns this gorgeous piece of bike history. But the identity of the owner and his or her place of residence is not known and will not be revealed unless spotted out on the open road somewhere. Next up, is another custom work of art that will move into the seven figures. Now, that would be some rich ride.

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Safe Riding, Safe Braking

February 17, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Motorcycle riders in the sunset.jpgWe are saddened by reports that a motorcycle rider died recently in Clayton County in the early evening hours. The reports indicate that the rider was traveling north on Georgia 85 when his bike crashed into the rear of another stopped vehicle. We don't know the cause of this crash, whether there was a malfunction of the bike's brakes or whether the rider simply did not see the stopped vehicle or misgauged the distance needed to brake. But any loss of life is a tragedy and perhaps this rider's passing can serve as a reminder about braking and bikes.

Lots of riders have something to say about braking on a bike and how to gauge distance and speed. Most bikes' braking systems make it possible to stop within seconds of braking. But of course the faster you are going, the more distance it will take to stop your bike. Effective braking requires practice and it is one of the most important skills a rider can work on over time. The more experienced riders know that it isn't always predictable how quickly his or her bike will stop in any given conditions. Distances required to stop become greater quite quickly, the faster the bike is going. Slowing down when you think you might need to brake is a good way to help yourself and your bike to stop in time before hitting an immoveable object. Assuming that the road in front of you will be predictable at all times is a big mistake.

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Clayton County Fatal Motorcycle Crash

February 3, 2014, by

helmet-on-bicycle-10045610.jpgWe are reminded of the serious intersection dangers for motorcyclists as we learn that a corrections officer has lost his life in such a crash. The Clayton County officer was in the southbound lane when he was struck and killed by another vehicle. Although reports are unclear on the precise facts, it appears that there were two other vehicles involved. One that came out in front of the motorcycle and another that struck the officer in the southbound lane in which he was traveling. It could well be that the motorcyclist was hit when trying to avoid the first vehicle that pulled in front of him in the intersection.

Unfortunately, we cannot post enough about the dangers to bikers in situations involving intersections. The problem is so serious that one national insurance company has initiated an intersection safety campaign that includes posting warnings to drivers at intersections known to be dangerous. The effort is intended to remind motorists that checking an intersection just one time for other vehicles and motorcycles is not sufficient.

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Serious Injuries and Worse in Cobb County Bicycle Crash

December 8, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bicycles on georgia roadAs we approach the holiday season, there is a greater likelihood that fun and holiday cheer will result in tragedy on the road. In modern life we have become somewhat used to the hectic nature of the season and the losses made more poignant by this season. And when loss occurs during this time of year, families suffer a greater sense of this loss because this is a time when families gather. Sadly, a Cobb County incident involving a DUI, resulted in the death of one person and injuries to the allegedly drunk driver and a bicyclist just before the holiday season in late October. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that charges have already been filed against the driver in this incident and an arrest is likely to follow.

The nature of the charges including the most serious first degree vehicular homicide which is found at Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393 , derive from an incident that occurred earlier this fall. The reported facts are that the driver was traveling at a high rate of speed and struck the bicyclist, then hit a tree. His passenger was killed also the man riding his bicycle on Riverside Parkway was seriously injured. Unfortunately the bicycle rider sustained injuries that involved the spinal cord and cervical spine, but were said to be survivable. The driver also sustained some level of injury.

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Things That Can Save a Biker's Life

November 29, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for motorcycleriderleg.jpegEarlier this month, a young biker was tragically killed after sustaining traumatic injuries. He was riding his motorcycle on an Athens street and apparently was struck by a vehicle that was exiting a drive way. The rear of the vehicle collided with the young rider who was a graduate of Peachtree Ridge High School and a student at the University of Georgia. In the early reports, the authorities indicated that it was possible the 22-year old biker's helmet was not fastened completely since it flew off during the impact of the crash. This tragic loss of life is made all the more tragic if the helmet could have saved the young man's life.

In Georgia, the numbers of bikers killed while riding are down slightly since 2008. But that is not the case in nearby Tennessee. Authorities in Tennessee have noted that motorcycle crash fatalities are actually rising. Just this fall, three crashes occurred in nearby Chattanooga very close in time to one another. A young woman was critically injured after being ejected from a bike she was riding on as a passenger. Her helmet was apparently not secured, similarly to the recent crash in Athens, Georgia, as it flew off and she ended up in a lane of traffic.

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Grief and Disbelief After Head-on Tragedy

October 21, 2013, by

candles .jpgA beautiful autumn ride turned horrific after five individuals lost their lives on a country road at a beautiful location on the Pennsylvania - Maryland border. The countryside in this area is similar to that found around the hills and mountains in Georgia and the story of what happened is still being uncovered. One thing is for sure, four bikers and an SUV passenger have lost their lives and the grief for the families and the community is overwhelming. Over many years as an Atlanta motorcycle injury lawyer, I have represented motorcyclists and their families deal with the legal and medical issues involved in motorcycle accidents. This recent crash is very tragic.

In addition to the fact that this accident is reported to be the most severe that has ever occurred in the small border township in which it occurred in the loss of life and injury, the cause really remains a mystery. On a perfect fall afternoon at around 2 in the afternoon, two bikes, each carrying a passenger were riding at the area of the Blue Ridge Summit. The bikes somehow ended up in a deadly collision with an SUV.

Updated reports are now indicating that for the SUV apparently traveled into the opposite lane of traffic and hit one of the motorcycles. Subsequently, the second bike hit the vehicle. The cause of the drifting of the SUV is not currently known. The crash was so horrific, that all four on the bikes were killed along with an SUV passenger.

Due to the severity of this crash, the emergency responders received extra support because according to reports the accident scene was worse than most had ever seen. At least one person survived and has been taken to the hospital in Maryland. Perhaps the survivor will be able to help authorities piece together what happened.

Bikers know that the beautiful rides of fall can be among the most peaceful and wonderful there are. The cool air, drifting leaves and open road are so inviting. The unexpected collision, particularly one in which bikes and other motor vehicles collide head-on is not what we think about as we get on the open road.

But when we are driving or riding at even normal rates of speed and we end up facing another vehicle coming towards us in our lane ... what can we do to try to avoid tragedy? Are there any technological advances that might avoid such a collision? Researchers have already established that the use of helmets in general can save a biker's life. The famous and renown study done in the early 1980's for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (The Hurt Report) established key factors in motorcycle safety. The NHTSA continues to work on identifying risk exposure to riders and how to best communicate to the biking community about crash avoidance. But some situations on the road present challenges that even the most experienced and cautious riders might not be able to manage safely.

One of those is a situation in which vehicles (bikes and cars, or bikes and trucks for example) traveling in the opposite direction from one another end up in the same lane. Perhaps in the future there could be some sort of warning system using a GPS-like system to detect the other vehicle. But even this will not assist if there is no where to safely pull over to avoid collision.

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Guardrail Collision End Marietta Biker's Life

October 12, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for motorcycleriderleg.jpegWe have posted in the past about the fact that single vehicle accidents that involve road departure can be among the most dangerous for bikers. Just this weekend, a Marietta man took his last ride early Saturday morning. It is my job as Gwinnett County motorcycle lawyer, to represent the families of those who have been injured or have lost their lives in bike crashes and it is very sad and difficult to go through such an experience.

Reports indicate the Marietta Police are currently investigating a crash involving one motorcycle that was traveling on the Canton Road Connector. The bike was ridden by a 26 year-old man. He was on a 2004 Suzuki motorcycle in a location that is east of I-75 and specifically on the Canton Road Connector.

It is suspected from witness to the crash that the bike was speeding at the time of the accident. The rider lost control of the bike which left the road and hit a guardrail. Tragically, the biker died at the scene of the accident. Our deepest sympathies go the family and friends of this young man, whose life is gone too soon.

Although the investigation of this accident is not complete, speed may well have been a factor. The Marietta crash is another example of how treacherous it is to drive at excess speeds. We read all too often about situations in which motor vehicles and motorcycles leave the roadway and hit objects that include trees, mailboxes, telephone polls and guardrails. Very often, and all too often these crashes result in serious injury or fatality.

Guardrails are there to protect lives, but they can be unforgiving in a collision. We have shared with readers that collisions involving road departures and guardrails are very dangerous for all vehicles, but especially for motorcycles.

The National Academies of Science provided grants in late 2010 to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute's (VTTI) Center for Injury Biomechanics to review and gather information on fatal road departure crashes. The study is still underway and should be completed some time next year. This study involves both passenger vehicles and also is focusing specifically on motorcycle road departure crashes.

The current study should provide very essential information on just how road departure crashes occur and identify very precisely the patter of injuries and fatalities that occur in these crashes. The primary factors contributing to these crashes include speed and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. One study underway specifically involves the injuries that result in fatal motorcycle crashes and roadside barriers.

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