Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

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Highway Fatalities Across America

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has long been a champion of motorcycle safety. Georgia’s governor is a member of this organization and also provides a great deal of motor vehicle safety information on the site Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. According to the GHSA, there is possibly good news mixed in with not-so-good news on traffic safety for motorcyclists.

First, some good news — the number of overall fatalities on American roads is down from 40,000 in past decades to 35,000 in 2015. This should seem like a fine improvement. But the reductions we have seen across the country for many decades are now moving in the wrong direction. An eight percent increase in traffic fatalities in 2015 is a very concerning trend. But even worse is the upward trend in pedestrian and motorcycle fatalities which amounts to about ten percent.

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Motorcycle rideA biking story of tragedy and survival at the Tennessee — North Carolina border is truly remarkable.  The lessons learned in this motorcycle accident are also important for all of us to remember. Who wouldn’t want to get out on an autumn ride on a great stretch of road with a pal? That is one of the most wonderful ways to ride. So it was as two friends rode together earlier this month on a curvy stretch of road called “The Dragon.” But sadly, things spun out of control. One the riders had to brake and his bike was hit by the other. They both went over an embankment and one of them was killed. The friend who survived was in deep trouble. Landing 150 feet below the road, the rider was still able to record his circumstances. He could hear bikes passing by, but was so severely injured, he could not move. His lungs were hurt, his bones were hurt, in short he was very seriously injured after his bike crashed.

He tried, but could not call out on his phone. He was able to record his terrible circumstances. Down a hill and very badly hurt. After a full day and night somehow someone heard him calling for help. He was so far down the hill with traffic passing above, that Tennessee authorities were stunned that anyone heard his calls. As rescuers located him and began to work on the difficult recovery, he asked what had happened to his pal. It is difficult to think about this tragic motorcycle crash and the friendship that was lost. Continue reading →

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Biker stuck in trafficHarley owners and riders love their bikes and the lovely singing pipes that cause people without turning to say … “that’s a Harley.” Some say that having louder pipes might make caged drivers notice you and that is great for safety, but it can’t make your brakes work correctly. The Associated Press reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been hearing from Harley Davidson riders lately, nearly 50 of them now. The federal agency tasked with ensuring vehicle and road safety has begun an investigation into Harley brake failures. Harley Davidson is fully cooperating with the NHTSA. Riders have been complaining to the agency about the brake failures that include both the hand and foot pedals. Apparently, the investigation involves over 400,000 motorcycles. The span of model years is from 2008 through 2011. Five incidents have been reported, three of which resulted in crashes and two in injuries.

Although there is no current recall or other information on the status of the NHTSA investigation for the brakes on bikes manufactured during the noted time-frame, there are things Harley owners can check. It is possible that the brake failures that have been reported are on bikes in which the fluid has not been changed as recommended by Harley. They recommend changing fluid on a two year rotation. This avoids any potential problems with aging fluid corroding valves that are integral to the anti-lock braking system. Some might say that brake fluid should not be corroding a valve and that in itself could be a problem. This investigation might shed some light on that issue. Changing the fluid may not guarantee that the brake issue, whatever might be the cause, won’t happen to more riders. But for sure it is a good practice to check them yourself, or contact your Harley dealer to make sure your brakes are in good working order.

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BonniThe Georgia Dome was the scene of an “interesting” bike crash this past weekend. Raising money for charity, several NASCAR drivers had a straight away drag race. Winning the race against his fellow drivers, star driver Clint Bowyer had a tactical problem. Fast on the straight away meant that the experienced motocross driver also needed a place to land. Where to stop after beating his buddies for a good cause? He couldn’t make the turn after the straight away and ended up setting his course for a padded wall to stop. Thankfully, he was not injured and he drove NASCAR on Sunday. His twitter account says the bike is for sale … best offer. Hopefully, he will donate proceeds if the bike sells!!

The event at the Dome was a collaboration of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, FIM World Championship and NASCAR® creating what they deemed the “Monster Energy Supercross Holeshot Challenge.” Danica Patrick was on board for the evening, along with other stars of the riding and driving community. The athleticism of these racers is well known and even NASCAR drivers are in awe of their abilities. We expect this event to return next year, in case readers are interested in seeing this event as it happens live.

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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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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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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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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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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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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.

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