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iStock_000017380527XSmallA tragic motorcycle crash in Cobb County is currently under investigation. Marietta Police have the important task of determining precisely what happened when a biker was killed after his bike hit a Cobb Community Transit bus last week. The bus was not carrying any passengers at the time. We can only hope that when bike accidents like this happen, the outcome is greater safety for bikers. Although the facts about this fatal bike crash are not yet determined, there are some witness reports. Some witnesses reported that the motorcycle accelerated before the crash, but at this point police do not know which vehicle had the right of way. It also appears that the location of this accident is known to police to be dangerous. Enforcement has been recently increased due to the known problems with the road in this area. Apparently, speeding is an issue there as is jaywalking, both of which the police have been trying to manage.

This tragedy took place in the afternoon on which there was good visibility. The driver of the bus was apparently driving in the westerly direction and was making a left turn into the transit depo there. The bike struck the back area of the bus and tragically burst into flames, killing the rider. Georgia Good Samaritans heroically tried to put out the fire with their own jackets, but they were unable to do so. As noted previously, the rider may have accelerated before hitting the bus or the bus may have needed to wait before turning. The bus driver was able to get out of the bus after the crash and cried out for help. She was taken to the hospital, but her condition is unknown.

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iStock_000006752189XSmallMany of us can relate to losing concentration for a moment while driving or riding. This is a moment we have all had on the road in which our eyes move away from the road ahead, or something causes us to end up on the rumble strip for a second. In that second, so much can happen, including a devastating and fatal bike crash. Such motorcycle crashes have happened in and around Atlanta. On a stretch of road across the country in San Diego, a young Marine was riding when he overcorrected seeking to avoid an oncoming vehicle. This move turned fatal, and tragically he lost his life. Riding his Triumph bike, he drifted into the oncoming lane of traffic. Once he overcorrected, he ended up on the shoulder, hit a boulder and was thrown from his bike. He had two young kids and a wife who has lost him way too soon. His riding and military families are in mourning for this father of two and one on the way.

Riders know that overcorrection can be a major hazard for experienced and inexperienced drivers. This is a hazard that riders train for, but once it occurs, it is difficult to get out of the consequences, which in this case were terrible. In his piece in the New York Times several years ago, titled “Motorcycle School, Be Very Afraid,” one author shares the key take aways learned in his riding course. These included common sense advice like do not ride if you are in a hurry; do not ride if you are thinking about something else; never remove your focus from the road in front of you, and; NEVER become overconfident. In short, he concludes, its ok to be afraid, that can keep you safe. It is not easy in this complex world we live in to maintain concentration at all times when riding, but it is so important for rider safety.

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fallTime and time again, we have written about drivers of caged vehicles who cause serious accidents, injuries and fatalities to motorcycle riders. Over many years, patterns have emerged and worsened as drivers become more and more distracted and do not look carefully at the road or their surroundings. The visibility of a motorcycle and rider are key to rider safety. Riders can do all they can to be visible, but if a driver doesn’t pay attention and concentrate, a rider’s safety can be sacrificed.

We know that intersections are fraught with danger for motorcycle riders. Statistically, inattentive cagers who drive into an intersection to make a left turn can present a serious threat to riders. When a driver fails to yield the right of way to oncoming motorcycles or other vehicles and makes the turn, disastrous results can occur. Georgia riders have had their share of tragedy caused by failures to yield. Georgia law is clear in this regard. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-71 states that a driver attempting to make a turn in an intersection must yield to vehicles approaching. Drivers making a turn must quickly assess whether an oncoming vehicle is close enough so that turning would be hazardous. In my law practice, I have represented many motorcycle accident victims who have been struck by caged drivers because the drivers failed to see them.  Continue reading →

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scooters_2Georgia riders likely know that throughout our state we not only have great rides, but also great resources. Motorcycle enthusiasts are a unique community with a strong commitment to riding on the open road and also doing that safely and securely. Georgia’s Department of Driver Services (GDDS) has great programs for rider safety and training. Rider education sites around Georgia are easy to locate on the GDDS website and offer support to both experienced riders and new riders too.

The safety and security of motorcycle riders is important to those of us who support the rider community in different ways. We apply our legal expertise in helping those injured in motorcycle crashes to recover and to maneuver through the legal system. Since many motorcycle accidents occur at intersections and are caused by caged drivers’ failure to see a motorcyclist, we fully support the efforts to teach safest riding best practices. Avoidance may not always be possible, but learning best practices can help riders be more visible and defensive when sharing the road with other motor vehicles.

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1214589454Q2B5aOLast week, a pedestrian walking his bicycle was hit and killed by a driver in southwest Atlanta. The Atlanta police are searching for the suspect who may have owned the vehicle that killed the man … the vehicle was abandoned nearby. This situation may have been intentional, as the driver turned on the road and hit the cyclist while he was on the sidewalk. Or perhaps it was some sort of road rage. We do not know at this point, but what is true is that pedestrians and bicyclists are vulnerable to careless drivers not only in Atlanta, but all over the country.

Recently, the League of American Bicyclists studied how bicycle accidents and fatalities occur and how they are reported. Their study which was called “Every Bicyclist Counts” determined that by far the greatest danger to a bicyclist is a rear end collision. A stunning 40 percent of those bicyclists who lose their lives on their bikes in this way … the vehicle essentially overtakes the bicyclist. Additional factors that contributed to these bike crashes that were attributed to the driver involved were revealing as well. In over 40% of these fatal accidents, the driver was inattentive or careless. And other sobering statistics included that the drivers causing fatal injury to bicyclists were under the influence in about 12% of the accidents studied and had left the scene or hit and run in about 36% of the accidents.

The study also made it clear that it is important for governmental entities to ensure that roads are safe for those riding bicycles. It is also clear that the media and law enforcement need to do a better job in reporting facts after these accidents. Often critical data is not reported regarding these crashes and that makes it difficult for researchers to study why and how such fatalities occur.

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1214589454Q2B5aOBicyclists love this time of year … the good weather and sunshine makes riding a real joy. And with so many beautiful rides in Georgia and many events that are aimed at bike enthusiasts, our state is a great place for a great ride. One recent bicycling event was a somber reminder that our roads can also be unfriendly at times. Earlier this week, Roswell City Hall was the site of a memorial for those who have lost loved ones and friends due to bicycle or pedestrian accidents. There were opportunities to memorialize those tragedies and the people who have lost their lives on foot or on a bicycle. In addition, a forum was created during this event in which those attending were given two minutes each to express their feelings and ideas about how Georgians can lower the fatality rate for those who are sharing the road with motor vehicles of all kinds.

The Georgia Department of Transportation keeps tabs on many aspects of road safety and statistics and is reporting a very steep rise in bicycle fatalities since last year. The alarming statistic is that as compare to 2014, these fatalities have risen a shocking 63 percent. Overall, those most vulnerable sharing the road such as bicycle riders and pedestrians, comprise over 15 percent of Georgia’s traffic and road fatalities. On their Twitter feed, GDOT notes that in the first three months of 2015, 17% of fatalities on our roads were either bicyclists or pedestrians.

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Motorcycle rider on fall roadwayAn unusual incident involving a Rex, Georgia motorcycle rider occurred last week. Police in North Myrtle Beach report that a man riding a stolen motorcycle was killed after running a red light. The authorities said they attempted to stop the rider because his license wasn’t displayed correctly, but the rider did not stop for the police and instead dropped off his female passenger in a parking lot and sped off. The passenger is from Decatur, Georgia and was not injured in the accident.

While all of this was unfolding, the rider ultimately ran a red light and struck the side of a boat that was being towed behind a pick up truck. The driver of the truck was attempting to make a left turn at the time of the crash. The rider, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown a great distance from the stolen bike and although he was taken to the hospital, he passed away from his injuries. He may have sped up just prior to the collision. This appears to be a tragic accident that could have been avoided.

At this point, the authorities are not citing anyone for this accident. And although the man appears to have been evading the police, we have no facts about why he was riding the stolen bike or if he knew it was a stolen bike. The early reports indicate that the bike had been stolen in Alabama.

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motorcyclecrashSeveral motorcycle crashes over the past two weeks in the Atlanta area have served to remind us all of the dangers of intersection motorcycle collisions and other potential for fatal collisions as the weather improves and more riders are out on their bikes. We need everyone to stay safe, but spring has already seen fatalities that are leaving families and friends grieving. Just this past week, two vehicles, one a motorcycle and one an pick up truck collided in an intersection in Gwinnett County. Reports of this collision indicated that the truck driver, who was attempting to make a U-turn, drove into the bike’s path. The rider did not survive this crash. And another collision in Gwinnett between a car and a bike near the Mall of Georgia occurred this past week, with potential injuries that have not been reported at this time.

Another rider was fatally injured after a car attempting to turn left in a Cobb County intersection was struck by the bike. The driver and passenger in the car were not seriously injured, but were treated for the injuries they did sustain.

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Motorcycle4In October 2014 at a gathering in New York on highway safety, a researcher from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) presented preliminary results from the naturalistic riding study that is currently underway at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).  The study is a coordinated effort with MSF and VTTI. The data collected thus far is not being formally published yet as it is too early for researchers to reach final conclusions from it. But there are some general points emerging thus far.  The purpose of the study is intended to help researchers understand “the role of human factors in traffic safety outcomes.” In other words, it is an effort to identify how riders can manage their rides more safely and avoid bike crashes and fatalities. We have been sharing information about this study that has been underway for the past couple of years in four locations around the country. These include riders in Irvine, California riding year round;  those in Orlando, Florida riding in similar conditions; riders in Blacksburg, Virginia with lots of two-lane roads and hills; and, those in Phoenix, Arizona where there are many sports bikes and no helmet laws.

The intention of this study has been to collect riding data in a natural way using video and other technologies that will pin-point what specific factors are involved in motorcycle crashes and near-crashes. Although the data is still being collected and analyzed, there are some early patterns emerging based on what has been collected thus far. The collected data is based on over 350,000 miles of riding so far. Riders of all ages are part of this study. All types of riding is also part of this study — subjects were not only those riding during leisure time, but those who use their bikes to get to work. It also includes those who wear protective gear and those who do not.

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helmet-on-bicycle-10045610One of the best things for most bike riders is the freedom of the open road, unencumbered by the “cage” of a car or truck. One of the facts of riding is that it is fairly impossible for bike riders to be distracted by the use of hand held devices while riding. Unless you have three hands or an extra arm, texting while riding is not going to happen. Perhaps a rider might check a handheld at a stop sign or signal, but hand held and bike riding is thankfully just not physically realistic. But for those driving in cars and trucks, we see this distracted driving more and more and it is very dangerous for everyone sharing the road, particularly those on bikes. Drivers in cars and trucks using hand held devices, which are to varying degrees illegal for use while driving in many states, are often the cause of injury-causing accidents with those on bikes.

A study from the Florida Department of Transportation states that those in cars and trucks are in fact more often at fault for the failure to yield to bikes and other small vehicles. The study indicates that those in cars and trucks are more often to blame in severe or fatal crashes than the bike rider. One of the reasons for this is that drivers simply don’t expect to see a smaller vehicle on the road and don’t pay attention at times to what is around them. This is becoming true also with pedestrian accidents. If you are riding a bike or walking across a street, it is necessary to become a defensive rider or walker to protect against this level of distraction. Add to this inherent lack of awareness and thinking ahead on the road, those distracting handhelds and it is really quite a dangerous formula. This is especially true as the weather improves in warmer climates and as we move into spring. Drivers will start seeing more riders out as the weather improves and some of them will fail to notice the increased presence of motorcycles.

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