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.

Continue reading "Guardrail Collision End Marietta Biker's Life " »

Recent Crashes Across Atlanta Included Bikers and Cyclists

September 23, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Motorcycle rider on fall roadway.jpgA series of horrific crashes around Atlanta and Georgia earlier this month has left motorists, including bikers and cyclists injured and worse. These accidents were not due to bad weather or visibility, but apparently were just a constellation of terrible circumstances with tragic results. We posted about a string of deadly and serious accidents on our Atlanta Injury Attorneys Blog.

In one bike crash, a 46-year-old rider died after losing control of his motorcycle. His bike left the road on Cobb Parkway near Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta. In another incident on the same night, two bikers from Lithia Springs, were both killed after hitting a car stopped on I-285 southbound between Camp Creek Parkway and Washington Road. And a third motorcyclist, 43-year-old of Douglasville, was also injured in the accident.

And on Georgia 400, a woman riding on the back of a bike, was thrown off of it when her brother, the driver clipped a wall. She was then hit by another vehicle that left the scene and police are still trying to find that driver. The driver of the bike who is the deceased woman's brother, was not seriously injured. He has been arrested and charged with DUI, reckless driving, failure to maintain his proper lane and first-degree vehicular homicide.

First degree vehicular homicide or homicide by vehicle, is a felony found in the Annotated Code of Georgia section 40-6-393 (a). This provision states that a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs that causes the death of another person can be sentenced to up to 15 years of imprisonment. The minimum sentence can be longer for habitual DUI violators.

Late the same night, a 52-year-old man was struck and killed while riding a bicycle on Georgia Highway 6 in Paulding County. This cyclist was struck by a car driven by a young adult from Hiram.

It is difficult to imagine what all the injured are dealing with and it is even more difficult to imagine the sense of loss for families who have lost a loved one in these crashes. It goes without saying that we are saddened by any loss of life in the biking community. The sense of loss is worsened when we consider that avoiding drinking and driving is something that all of us can and should do. In at least one of the accidents here, if the allegations are true, this might have saved at least one of the lives lost in recent days.

Continue reading "Recent Crashes Across Atlanta Included Bikers and Cyclists" »

Biker Killed in I-75 Tractor-Trailer Collision

September 17, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for burned out bikeLast week, a rider lost his life while riding on I-75. The collision that ended his life was not between two vehicles that were in any way a match for such a situation. One rider on a bike and one driver of a tractor-trailer. My work representing bikers and their families as a Gwinnett County motorcycle injury lawyer involves many match-ups between vehicles, but there is nothing more dangerous to a biker than a tractor-trailer that isn't where it should be on the road.

In this crash, the motorcyclist was riding northbound on the highway near I-675. This crash took place in daylight around 11:30 in the morning. The tractor-trailer crossed the median and traveled into the opposite direction of traffic and into the motorcycle's lane killing the biker. The road was closed for some period of time after the crash. The accident was said to have been the result of an improper lane change by the tractor-trailer. The driver of the truck is likely going to face charges. This could include a charge, based on the improper lane change and resulting death, of second degree homicide by vehicle under Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393.

As biker's know, trucks are some of the largest vehicles on Georgia's roads and highways. Traveling near or around them can be very treacherous for bikers. There is nothing this motorcyclist could have done to avoid a large vehicle suddenly coming into his path. The loss of his life is a huge price to pay for riding on an open highway.

We do not know the condition of the truck driver at the time of the accident. Perhaps the trucker was fatigued or otherwise compromised. Federal regulations make it very clear how long a trucker can drive in one day, required brakes and rest. We cannot assume anything in this situation, all we know is that the driver left his lane of traffic resulting in the rider's death.

Trucking in Georgia is highly regulated and is in accord with the federal law. If this driver was working for a commercial motor carrier, that company and the driver could well have liability in a wrongful death action brought by the surviving family of the rider.

Wrongful death is a type of action that can be brought after a death caused by another person. It is brought by close family members or spouses and generally is intended to compensate the family, including children for the sudden and perhaps early death of a loved one. Calculations are made that determine what the deceased person would have earned over the course of his or her lifetime and that becomes part of the damages claimed by the victim's family. Other damages and causes of action can also be a part of the action.

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More Ways to Ride Safely

August 4, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Motorcycle4.jpgAfter a string of fatal motorcycle crashes in the Atlanta metro area, particularly those in which bikers have been struck by other vehicles as those vehicles are either making a turn or the biker makes a turn, we have set out to remind our readers about the importance of safe riding. Earlier this year, the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety launched a safe riding campaign, with the aim of reducing motorcycle crash fatalities. Over the two prior years, the highest rates of fatal crashes came from metro counties, including Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett and neighboring Newton County.

As a Gwinnett County motorcycle injury lawyer, this latest string of bike crashes and fatalities concerns me greatly. I represent riders and their families and support them through what can be traumatic and life-changing experiences. Although the statistics show that Georgia had slightly fewer fatalities in 2012, than in 2011, over 130 people lost their lives in bike crashes. This why both motorists and riders, have been asked to renew their commitment to sharing the road.

In Georgia, we have over 200,000 registered motorcycles -- less than two and one half percent of all registered vehicles. But sadly, in 2011 (for example) motorcycle deaths amounted to 11 percent of all fatalities on our roads and highways. This type of statistic is found in other states around the country. It is not just true in Georgia. In 2011 motorcycle deaths in the United States amounted to 14 percent, with a three percent average registration across the country. We have seen a drop in fatalities in Georgia from 2005.

But as we are all aware, any fatality on a bike is a tragedy and our fatal crash rates in urban and rural areas are too high. In general, bike riders are 30 times more likely to die in a collision than are those driving or riding in other types of motor vehicles.

We know that proper helmet use is one reason why riders are surviving crashes that would other wise be fatal. The importance of the proper helmet can never be overstated.

Education is also key in safety. About 22 percent of riders in motorcycle crashes do not have the proper license or have no license. And it is said that because bikes are fuel efficient, some riders do not get the background they need to ride safely. Right here in Georgia, our Department of Driver Services has 22 motorcycle safety training sites and certifies nearly 15 additional sites around the state.

Here is are some safety reminders: don't drive impaired or distracted; do wear protective a helmet and bright clothing with reflectors; avoid riding in bad weather; always signal a lane change and use hand signals when possible in addition to your turn signal; make sure to position your bike before a turn so that other drivers can best see you.

Continue reading "More Ways to Ride Safely " »

And Another Left, Turns Deadly in Forsyth

July 27, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Motorcycle rider on fall roadway.jpgThis has been a very very bad week for local riders. We have lost two motorcyclists to the same or similar danger -- a vehicle turning left and failing to yield the right of way. In this tragedy, a 19-year-old man was killed. I mentioned in my last post that riders can only protect themselves from this type of motorcycle crash by using every possible means to be seen by other vehicles. In our next post, we will share some thoughts on this, but for now, we are sending our sympathies to the families of these two victims.

I have represented many bikers who have been in this situation and have been injured or worse in my law practice as a Gwinnett County motorcycle accident lawyer. A grieving family isn't really consoled by the compensation they receive for the wrongful death of a loved one, but at least they can move on with their lives and have some protection for others left with the loss, such as children and spouses.

We have discussed in the past that it is extremely difficult for riders to protect themselves if and when another vehicle simply crosses the path of an oncoming rider -- which is what happened in this situation and the fatal crash we posted about earlier this week. Wearing a helmet that is structurally sound and other protective gear can help protect your head and your ability to see. But, nothing can protect you from a driver going at full speed and turning in your path. That is just careless and it is against Georgia law.

In the most recent crash in Forsyth County, a pick-up truck driver was driving northbound on Heardsville Road, when he made a left turn into a parking lot at the Old Heardsville Store. The truck hit a young rider who was traveling southbound on the same road on his Yamaha bike. The fatal crash occurred in the afternoon hours, so weather and visibility do not appear to be factors in this crash.

The rider is reported to have been thrown from the motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene. He attempted to avoid the impact of the oncoming truck by taking some evasive measures, but was thrown from his bike. The truck driver was not injured in the crash and was immediately arrested and charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide and failure to yield while turning left.

The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393 sets out the crimes involving homicide by vehicle. The charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide carries a lesser penalty than more serious offenses, such as first degree homicide by vehicle.

In our post earlier this week, we shared the fatal crash of another rider that happened the same way this one did. A car was riding in the opposite direction of a woman on a scooter and made a turn directly into her path. She died after her transport to a local hospital.

Continue reading "And Another Left, Turns Deadly in Forsyth " »

Another Biker Down and Gone ... Intersection Dangers Continue

July 25, 2013, by

Motorcycle riders in the sunset.jpgWhen I saw the headline about another Atlanta-area biker killed, I immediately thought that it could be an intersection crash. And it was. It is a consistent problem for bikers. The dangers of not being seen when turning in an intersection. This is one of the most dangerous places for riders and we have posted about this problem in the past. I have represented motorcycle injury and crash victims in my Atlanta metro law practice and I have helped them recover from intersection crashes, holding those responsible accountable.

In the fatal motorcycle intersection crash earlier this week a rider was killed while riding at night on Cobb Parkway. This biker was riding his Harley Davidson and was hit by a vehicle driven by a 21-year old driving a Mazda. The initial reports of the accident note that the Mazda made a left turn directly into the path of the motorcycle. The rider was taken to Well Star Kennestone Hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Authorities continue to investigate this crash and its cause.

Georgia law requires that drivers approaching an intersection for a turn or otherwise, must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic in intersections. In the cases I have handled that involve motorcycle injury and fatality, the failure to yield has often played a major role. Under Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-73 the "driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed."

I cannot stress enough the importance of riders knowing how to handle intersection situations. The Georgia Motorcycle Operator's Manual is an excellent resource for bike riders. It has very helpful information about riding as safely as possible in certain situations. We know that riders are more vulnerable to being struck by other drivers while in intersections. Motorcycle safety statistics around the country reveal that intersections present the greatest potential for collision between bikes and other traffic. It is said that more than half of all accidents involving motorcycles and passenger vehicles are actually caused by other drivers entering a rider's right-of-way.

We have posted in the past about how to handle intersection situations as safely as possible. In an upcoming post we will review those tactics and strategies. In the meanwhile, please ride safely.

Continue reading "Another Biker Down and Gone ... Intersection Dangers Continue" »

Road Departure -- Biker's Beware

July 10, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for motorcycleriderleg.jpegAnother terrible outcome for a biker in a road departure crash -- this time in Cherokee County, Georgia. A young adult was killed earlier this week after his bike left the road and hit a utility pole. This tragic accident occurred Wednesday around 11:45 in the morning on Epperson Road.

I have written in the past about the dangers inherent in road departure crashes, both when driving a vehicle or riding a bike. This type of crash is generally very dangerous and many bikers have lost their lives or been seriously injured this way. Over the past two decades in my Atlanta motorcycle injury law practice, I have studied road departure dangers for bikers.

In this situation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office was present on the scene and performing CPR at the time the emergency services responders came on the scene. The man could not be saved and passed away at the scene. He was only 21 years old. This accident is still under investigation so we don't know what caused the crash.

What we do know is that road departure crashes are a serious hazard for bikers and other vehicles. The Federal Highway Administration's Roadway Departure Safety Program provides important information for transportation practitioners, decision makers, and others to help prevent and reduce the severity of roadway departure crashes. The statistics on road departure crashes are startling. In 2011, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 15,307 fatal roadway departure crashes. These crashes caused even more fatalities totaling 16,948. Road departure crashes account for over 50 percent of the fatal crashes in America. Roadway departure crashes are frequently severe and account for the majority of highway fatalities.

These crashes are defined as a non-intersection crash occurring after a vehicle crosses an edge line or a center line, or otherwise leaves the traveled roadway. There are many causes of these crashes. Sometimes speed is a factor, but there are many other reasons these crashes happen. A driver or biker may try to avoid something in the road and loses control or perhaps that driver or biker is taking a curve with greater speed than road conditions will allow.

Our Federal Highway Administration Roadway Departure Team has just issued a strategic plan to lower the number of fatalities from road departure crashes. Their intention is to provide leadership in the highway community to reduce the risk of roadway departure fatal and serious injury crashes from occurring. The primary leadership role is with the engineering community and includes "developing, evaluating, and deploying life-saving countermeasures and promoting data-driven application of safety treatments." The goal of this work is to reduce national roadway departure fatalities by at least 500 per year "from the existing 17,000 per year to 8,500 per year by the year 2030."

Continue reading "Road Departure -- Biker's Beware " »

Georgia Bikers Benefit From Skills & Crash Avoidance Training

June 26, 2013, by

burned out bikeAs we noted in our last post, all bikers can benefit from general riding and crash avoidance training. Georgia riders are fortunate to live in a state in which ongoing training is available for all skill levels. In representing many bikers in my law practice as a Gwinnett County motorcycle crash lawyer, I have seen many examples of the dangers out there to bikers when drivers do not see them.

In addition, there are conditions and circumstances that riders encounter that can result in even greater harm if they are not prepared and ready to know what to do in case of an emergency situation. And there are many situations in which there is little a rider can do. An example of this occurred just recently, as a Lawrenceville man lost his life when an elderly driver apparently failed to see him and his passenger in a parking lot. She turned directly into them and killed the man and very seriously injuring his passenger.

As we are all aware, drivers are driving more distracted than ever, and it only takes a momentary lapse for a driver to fail to see a bike. This is particularly an issue at intersections when one vehicle or bike is attempting to make a left turn. It makes sense for all bikers and drivers to hone their skills in driving defensively.

There are three levels of training offered in these training courses. Since scooters have become a very popular mode of transportation these are also now permitted to participate in the beginning and experienced rider courses.

The beginning rider's course is intended to provide many essential skills for riders that do not have experience. This course spans over two days and includes both a closed course and classroom time. Riders learn several key skills including how to handle difficult and critical traffic situations, the safe operation of a bike, the skills and mental state needed to manage traffic and challenging situations. Participants learn all aspects of basic riding, straight-line, turning, shifting and stopping. In addition, the class focuses on cornering, emergency braking and swerving. Other important areas that are covered include visibility and protection.

There are also an experienced rider and advanced rider courses that involve class discussions about how riders manage difficult situations to keep safe. These have some prerequisites, but if you want to check these out please click here for the experience rider program and here for the advanced program.

Continue reading "Georgia Bikers Benefit From Skills & Crash Avoidance Training " »

Lawrenceville Biker Killed on I-124

June 26, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for motorcycleriderleg.jpegSad news out of Jackson County as a 40-year-old biker was killed and two were injured while traveling on Georgia Highway 124. The crash occurred in the morning hours. The deceased biker's passenger is in the Athens Regional Medical Center in intensive care and has life-threatening injuries.

We do not know her condition at this time, but our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. As an Atlanta motorcycle injury lawyer, I am always saddened to learn of what appears to be a purely tragic situation as two bikers enjoyed a summer ride only to be involved in a horrific crash.

The third victim, an elderly woman, also sustained injuries and was released from the hospital. Apparently, she may be charged with some offenses for this accident. The initial reports out of the Georgia State Patrol, indicate that the car driver was trying to turn left into the parking lot of a store. She turned into the motorcycle's path and is likely to be charged in the crash.

Bikers know that intersections and turns are some of the most dangerous places for accidents to occur. Drivers often seem unaware that a bike is present. This exposure to danger requires more vigilance on the part of riders to make sure that the other vehicles sees you.

The Georgia Department of Driver Services (GMSP) offers a motorcycle safety program. This is for all levels of riders ... not just beginners. The agency also promotes motorist awareness programs and share the road campaigns all intended to make Georgia's highways safer for bike riders. These programs are located at many training sites around the state. As we are all aware, training can be life-saving. Crash avoidance is key for bikers who are more vulnerable to larger vehicles that might not "see" them.

Several levels of training are provided in these courses, we will elaborate on those in our next post.

Continue reading "Lawrenceville Biker Killed on I-124" »

Getting Out to Cycle? Here's What to Bring.

June 24, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for 1214589454Q2B5aO.jpgWe have been posting recently on the things that bicycle riders need to consider when buying a new cycle or getting out to ride in this great summer weather. We want to focus in this post on the things that cyclists should bring along to make sure they ride safe and sound.

Representing cyclists as a Gwinnett County bicycle crash lawyer, I know how important these safety precautions are for riders to be safer on Georgia's roads. We can never be too prepared or too obvious as riders, especially when we are sharing the road with other vehicles.

It is important to have all the items necessary to fix a tire such as a frame pump, a spare tire tube, tire levers to remove tire from rim and a patch kit. A multi-tool which you can pick up at your local bike shop, is also an important piece of equipment to have with you. It is also important to ensure that your bike has proper lights and reflectors, including a white headlight visible from at least 300 feet for riding in low- visibility conditions such as fog or at dusk.

Riders also need to remember both during the hot days of summer and in general to stay well-hydrated by carrying water. Carrying a water bottle on your bike frame is a great way to keep hydration close by.

When riding at night, Georgia law requires several safety precautions including rear reflectors. There are several types of tail lights that will show either flashing or solid red. Some of these are detachable so that you can remove them from your bike when you aren't riding at night. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-296 (a) requires that: "Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector."

One of the most important pieces of safety equipment is a rear-view mirror. This is as important as your helmet in terms of keeping you safe on the road. The rear-view mirror helps to ensure safe turns, but does not replace the need for looking over your shoulder to make sure there are no vehicles approaching before a turn.

Other important items that you should carry with you in case of emergency include your personal identification, emergency contact information and your cell phone. It is also helpful to put a few dollars in your pocket in case you need hydration or need to make a phone call and don't have your phone with you. Bring some energy bars in case you need some nourishment on the road.

Continue reading "Getting Out to Cycle? Here's What to Bring. " »

Truck Wind Shear Causes Death of Biker

May 24, 2013, by

Motorcycle riders in the sunset.jpgBarlow County was the site of a very unusual accident earlier this week that ended in the death of a Paulding County man. Reports indicate that this accident was a rare confluence of wind and vehicles that in this situation went out of control for the victim. Many accidents involve the unexpected, as I have seen in my Atlanta motorcycle injury law practice. This one is likely not to happen again any time soon, but still there could be a lesson-learned in this loss of life.

The situation involved a truck and a biker riding a Harley-Davidson and pulling a small trailer behind him. These vehicles were traveling north on I-75. The biker was in the right lane and the tractor-trailer was in the left lane. As happens on many highways, as the truck passed the biker, the wind shear caused by the fast-moving truck made the trailer sway to to the right. In this instance, it was too strong for the biker to manage and he lost control of his bike. It then turned over and rolled as the rider fell along with his bike.

The trucker did the right thing and stopped to help. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-270, imposes a duty of a driver to stop at or return to scene of accident and render help if necessary. The authorities noted that the trucker had not done anything wrong and was not exceeding the speed limit. In fact, the trucker was making a legal pass to the left of the biker. Due to all of this no charges will be filed against the trucker.

Wind shear is normally not a problem on most of our highways. And it is not normally a problem when pulling a small trailer behind your bike. But many riders seek to put the trucks behind them and pass them to avoid any issues. Some riders are speculating that this accident could well have been caused by a poorly-loaded trailer or a shift of the trailer's contents to the rear, causing it to become imbalanced when the truck passed.

Riders know that cross-winds and wind shear from trucks can definitely be a problem and certain areas of the road are most prone to winds, such as mountain passes. It is not a bad idea to get some bike training on what to do if you encounter a wind shear situation and how best to load a trailer for safe riding.

Continue reading "Truck Wind Shear Causes Death of Biker " »

Gearing Up for Bicycling Season

May 20, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for 1214589454Q2B5aO.jpgIn addition to the great exercise and community that we can share while riding bikes in Georgia, we also share a high priority on rider safety. Making sure that the equipment you are using, from your bike to all the other things you might need, are safe and sound is step one in getting out to ride this season. This is the second in a series on getting ready to bike in Georgia.

In my work as a Gwinnett County bicycle injury lawyer, I know first hand what happens when something goes wrong on an outing that should be a wonderful experience. So, let's take a little time to make sure that you have what you need.

First, your bike. Amazingly, some people do not realize the importance of checking out your bike every season. It is very important that you and your family ride bikes that are correctly fit for each person. Fit requires the ability to not only straddle your bike while you are standing, but to ensure that bike, be sure you can straddle your frame while standing. There are several other key fit tests that you will need to make sure bikes fit their riders, so best bet is to go to a bike shop that can check measurements and ensure the correct fit.

Once you have your bike and you know it's a great fit, it is important to make sure it is working properly. Before you start riding this season have someone with knowledge, if you don't have that knowledge yourself, check out your bike.

Obviously, one of the most important areas of mechanical safety for you as a rider is your brakes. You need to be able to stop quickly. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated mandates how your bicycle brakes should function. OCGA section 40-6-296 (b) states that "[e]very bicycle sold or operated shall be equipped with a
brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement." It is a good idea to test your bike's functioning in this regard and make sure you can come to a skidded stop on dry pavement that is level. If necessary, replace your brake cables and your brake pads. These can become worn and make braking more difficult and therefore, put you and others at risk.

Make sure that your tires are properly inflated. Checking the tire pressure on a very regular basis will help eliminate issues with your tires.

It is crucial that you make sure to wear a helmet when you ride your bike. Many many serious head and brain injuries occur in the absence of a helmet. Helmets cut down the likelihood of these injuries in very significant numbers. Helmets are required to meet certain safety standards and you want one that has the approval of consumer agencies. Make sure your helmet has a Consumer Product Safety Commission, ASTM, or Snell sticker.

Helmet use is so important that Georgia law also requires them in certain circumstances. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-296 (e)(1), states that "[n]o person under the age of 16 years shall operate or be a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, bicycle path, or sidewalk under the jurisdiction or control of this state or any local political subdivision thereof without wearing a bicycle helmet." The fit of your helmet is also very important. The helmet needs to be a bit snug. It also should be no more than an inch above your eyebrows to best protect you in the event of an accident.

Another area of mechanical safety is your bike's gears. Make sure they are adjusted properly in general and particularly since our roads can be hilly in parts of Georgia.

Next post we will continue to share things you need to know about cycling in Georgia from the law to your emergency equipment. Until then, please ride safely!!!

Continue reading "Gearing Up for Bicycling Season" »

Georgia Biking Back in Full -- Spring!

May 1, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bicycles on georgia roadGeorgians know that our state is a fabulous place for cycling. Our great climate gives us more options to ride throughout the year. And we also enjoy terrain that includes both mountainous regions in the north and flat coastal regions in the south. But as a Georgia bicycle accident lawyer, I am also very aware that there is a great deal to know about safe biking before we get on the road. And now that we are full-swing into the best seasons of the year, I wanted to provide a series of posts about biking in our state.

Georgians are fortunate to have so many cycling opportunities -- and here are only a few. Only last month, Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) brought cyclists together for a great ride and lots of fun in the Spring Tune-Up ride. Next month, BRAG brings on one of the greatest cross-state tours in the United States. This "annual odyssey of discovery" takes riders across Georgia by bicycle and is a family-oriented tour in which riders travel their own pace, but on a route set by BRAG's experts. Riders stay in tents on college campuses or in motels along the route. Tour de Georgia is also a multi-day stage race which brings in a field of professional racers from all over the globe. Yet another fun cycling event is the Rock Eagle Ramble which spans a total of 62 miles, but can also be ridden in smaller increments.

Georgia has many cycling enthusiasts and local organizations that support riding and riders. Even our Georgia Department of Transportation gets into the Georgia cycling excitement by providing riders with great information, not to mention efforts to keep the roads bike-safe. Collaborating with cyclers and with planners, efforts are being made to ensure that motor vehicles and bikes can safely share our roads.

Safety is first and foremost with biking, since often we are sharing the road with motor vehicles. Over the next few posts, I want to remind readers about various aspects of biking safety and that begins with selecting and riding the right bike for you and for the circumstances in which you plan to ride.

If you are about to start biking or are in the market for a new bike, experts recommend that you make sure to choose the right bike for you and the type of riding you are going to do. Consider whether you need a road bike -- whether that is a racing bike for speed or a touring bike for longer trips -- depending on the types of trips you intend to take. Perhaps you want to ride off road and need a mountain bike. These bikes are built specifically for this type of ride, but you really need to be sure this is the type of bike you want since these bikes are not meant for road biking. Another option is a hybrid bike that is something between road and mountain and will ride well for city or road biking and paved trail riding. Recumbent bikes are lower to the ground and we often see these bikes with a flag on the back to improve visibility.

Electric bikes are also an option and these are becoming more popular. These bikes are powered by electric motors, but are not scooters and still need pedal power. These bikes are in a specific class on their own. Georgia defines these bikes as a two- or three-wheeled device with fully operative pedals and a small electric motor. However, the motor may not be greater than 1000 watts and cannot be greater than 100 pounds.

The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-1-1 defines an electric assisted bicycle as: "A device with two or three wheels which has a saddle and fully operative pedals for human propulsion and also has an electric motor. For such a device to be considered an electric assisted bicycle, it shall meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, as set forth in 49 C.F.R. Section 571, et seq., and shall operate in such a manner that the electric motor disengages or ceases to function when the brakes are applied. The electric motor in an electric assisted bicycle shall: (A) Have a power output of not more than 1,000 watts; (B) Be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground; and (C) Be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device at or more than 20 miles per hour."

In future posts we will share more information on Georgia cycling. Ride safely and enjoy!!

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Hit and Run Kills Respected Local Man

April 10, 2013, by

Thumbnail image for bicycles on georgia roadThe spring cycling season is barely in full swing and the Atlanta area has suffered yet another loss of life. The third in only a couple of weeks. A Marietta man, known by locals as "deaf Joe" and held with great affection by Burger King patrons and co-workers, has been struck and killed while riding his bike near the Cobb County Transit bus terminal. He served as a cook at the restaurant that is now mourning his loss. My heart goes out to all who knew him and to his family. The police have now arrested a suspect in this tragedy.

In my law practice as a Cobb County bicycle accident lawyer, I know from many years of experience supporting victims and families, that these losses are difficult to bear. The loss of "Deaf Joe" is felt by many in the community.

The driver of the vehicle that struck him down hit him and ran. Hit and run accidents appear to be on the rise, but they are no less confusing for law-abiding citizens who cannot imagine leaving the scene of an accident they have caused.

One of his co-workers said yesterday that he usually was at work early in the morning and dedicated to his job. He also was an aspiring rapper who rapped in sign language. What a great person and great loss to our community. Although he did not speak, he rapped in sign language and wrote notes. He was said by his co-workers to be a person willing to pitch in when anyone needed him.

Sadly, this is the second fatal bicycle hit-and-run accident in only two weeks. Another Marietta man was killed while riding late last month. Witnesses reported that the man was struck by perhaps a black SUV that could have been a Cadillac Escalade.

Only yesterday, the Marietta police asked the public for information to help solve the most recent hit and run accident. Both evidence at the scene and a tip are reportedly the information needed to enable the police to identify the vehicle that was involved and to arrest the suspect.

He has been charged with several violations of Georgia law, including hit and run, DUI and first degree vehicular homicide. Under Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393 (b), "[a]ny driver of a motor vehicle who, without malice aforethought, causes an accident which causes the death of another person and leaves the scene of the accident in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years."

As was perhaps the case here, many hit and run accidents are solved with witness information. Sometimes, the witness is not a witness to the accident, but sees the damage to the vehicle that wasn't present before. This might even be a family member. When motorists have new damage to their vehicle that fits with the hit and run, often they try to get repairs done at body shops without notifying their insurance carriers. Body shops should remain aware of such accidents and contact authorities if there is anything suspicious about the damage to the vehicle or if the person who owns the vehicle wants to pay cash for the repairs.

The spokesperson for the Marietta police was quoted yesterday as saying: " 'It's hard for me to understand how somebody could run someone down and not stop, but that's what we have here.' " I agree with this sentiment and hope more citizens will understand that leaving the scene is not acceptable morally and is a violation of the law.

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Bicyclist Hit and Killed, Search for Driver Mounts

March 17, 2013, by

bicycles on georgia roadJust as I posted last week about the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, we learn that an Atlanta man was struck by a hit and run driver over the weekend. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, but passed away from his injuries. Authorities are searching for the vehicle and the driver that struck the man.

We do not know whether the deceased man was wearing a helmet or not. But as a Gwinnett County bicycle injury lawyer, I can say with certainty that it is critically important to expect the unexpected and to ride with care and with a helmet. Even with a helmet, being struck by a motor vehicle can still result in serious injury or death.

And Georgians know that not only must they share the road, they must pull over safely to lend support after an accident that causes injury. A hit and run is a very serious matter and is not permitted under Georgia law. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-270, "[t]he driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident" or as close to the accident as possible. This of course applies whether the driver hits a pedestrian or a person riding a bike or another vehicle.

As the better weather approaches, I want to remind readers of the importance of riding defensively when possible. It is likely we will see an increase in many types of outdoor activity-related injuries as we move into riding and boating season.

Statistics show that when bikes and vehicles collide, very serious injuries are often going to occur. In 2010, 618 lives were lost in crashes involving bicycles and motor vehicles. Bicycle crashes may be lower than they have been in previous decades, but the accuracy of their reporting is not clear since a fraction of those involved in bicycle crashes are reported by authorities. In reality, bicyclists represent a very small number by percentage of those killed in traffic accidents. As recently as 2010, that number was only at two percent. The source for these statistics is where you can read more about bikes, safety and more.

Given the fact that when bikes and vehicles collide, there is a greater likelihood of injury we all need to consider how to keep ourselves and our families safe while bicycling. Here are some things that we all need to think about before we start our rides and while riding our bicycles.

When sharing bikes paths make sure that you can be seen and that you are aware of pedestrians who walk with headphones and other distractions these days, as well as those walking their dogs, skating and other cyclists. When sharing the roads, cyclist should always ride with the traffic. It is also important to ride as close to the right as possible and never to wear headphones while riding a bike on the road with motor vehicles. You need all your senses to ensure your safety.

It may seem obvious, but it is important for bicycle riders to avoid drinking and riding. A high percentage of bike crashes involve some sort of impairment on the part of the rider, possibly as many as one-third.

As we have posted previously, it is very important for your safety to wear a helmet. There is really no doubt about this. We know that head injuries represent a high percentage of serious injury and death while riding a bike. For more information about wearing a helmet properly, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute website.

Many riders forget that even helmets wear out. Make sure yours is still safe. Get it checked by a cycling store and check it yourself. The Snell Foundation notes that many factors weaken helmets, such as sun, sweat and hair products. If you drop your helmet on a hard surface that can weaken it as well.

When riding your bike make sure that you are seen by drivers and other riders. Some cyclists weave in an out but riding in a predictable fashion is far safer. And of course wear a light or place a reflector on you and/or your bicycle so that drivers can see your bike at night. The Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-296 requires that "[e]very bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector."

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