Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries

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Motorcycle4In our last post, we shared some safety tips for new and returning riders. For all riders, safety should be top of mind when purchasing a new bike or starting the spring riding season. We shared information about rider training, choosing a bike that “fits” and other key steps riders can take to keep their rides safe and sound. Here are a few more tips and reminders for our readers on bike and riding safety as the spring season begins.

Helmet Use Can Help

Georgia law requires that all motorcycle riders wear a helmet. Additionally, eye protection is required when the motorcycle has no windshield. Around the country there is controversy among riders about the use of helmets. Some riders have lobbied to remove helmet requirements from their respective state laws. There are many states in which helmet laws were enacted and then repealed. Even though use of a helmet might not be preferred by some riders, it can protect riders from serious injury.

Not every motorcycle accident involves a head injury. But according to statistics reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when a rider goes down with no helmet and suffers a head injury, that injury is nearly forty percent more likely to be fatal. The rider is also much more likely to suffer a brain injury. As we have learned over the past few decades, even a minor concussion can cause what is called Mild Traumatic Brain Injury or MTBI. These aren’t mild to those who suffer headaches, dizziness, confusion and other issues for months after. So imagine what a more serious brain injury can involve. Helmet use is a wise choice for all riders. Continue reading →

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scooters_2The promise of spring weather undoubtedly will also bring new motorcyclists out on the roads. In light of that, we have a few suggestions for our Atlanta area and Georgia readers who are new to riding or are considering purchasing a bike this spring. When you get out to take a look at bikes you might want to purchase, your dealer should give you some guidance on a good first motorcycle. If you are buying a used bike, consider these tips before purchasing and riding. Here is the first part of a two-part post on what you should consider in getting out to ride for the first time.

Safety Made Simple — Rider Education 

The Georgia Department of Driver Services offers rider education programs under the Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program and can make your licensing process go smoothly. Riders under the age of 18 must take this course to get licensed and those over 18 can present proof of completion to avoid taking a road test. Safe riding for new riders should involve training of some kind. In addition to Georgia programs, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers courses that can make your riding experience much more satisfying and can save you some precious dollars in insurance discounts. Another safety measure is to invest in a bike with an antilock braking system. Safe braking can be challenging for new riders. ABS brakes help riders avoid skidding in weather and sudden stops. Continue reading →

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fallThe summer is long gone in the rear view mirror and we are fully into autumn now. Riders enjoy the gorgeous changing of the leaves on autumn rides, but something else changed. The sun is setting very early and darkness approaches much more quickly. Some riders prefer to ignore this early darkness, but it is important to consider how the fall changes the way we ride. We want our readers to consider some the hazards for motorcycle crashes that the changing weather, temperatures and light bring to the joy of riding.

One of the most beautiful aspects of fall riding are the changing of the leaves. The problem is, these leaves end up falling on the road and can cause many hazards. Not only can they hide defects in the road, but they also make a slippery surface. So as we ride through the changing colors, it is important to pay attention to where the leaves are and be more careful around them. Because the days are getting shorter, make sure that your bike lights are in great working order. And don’t forget to wear reflective gear so that caged drivers can see you more readily. Even the sunlight changes at this time of year and since the sun is lower in the sky, it can cause more distracting glare.

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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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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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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.

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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.”

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Thumbnail image for Motorcycle riders in the sunset.jpgBoomers have some extra time on their hands once they “retire” and many of them are avid bike riders. I enjoy talking with these folks who have loved biking for years or have started later in life and find great enjoyment in the open road — especially our wonderful Georgia backroads.

But a recently published study has some cautionary statistics for boomer riders. In their study Tracy L. Jackson and Michael J. Mello examined injury patterns in motorcycle accidents and looked at age group differences for those patterns. They took data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program to evaluate those treated in emergency departments for bike crashes from 2001 to 2008. What they found is particularly interesting to me as an Atlanta motorcycle crash lawyer, since I work hard to get the medical and legal rights that bike accident victims deserve.

Essentially, the numbers made it clear to the researchers that injuries increased in all age groups for the period 2001 to 2008 — but the rate of increase was largest among those 60 and over. in fact, that age group was more likely to be hospitalized. In addition, the injuries were more severe within the older age group which led the researchers to conclude that “[o]lder adults involved in motorcycle crashes are prone to more severe injuries than younger adults.” The risk for this group is higher than younger riders who might recover more quickly or more fully than older riders.

In the time frame studied there were 1.5 million motorcycle crash injuries in those age 20 or older, those in the older group had a very high rate of increase. There were about 4,300 injuries in 2001 and about 15,100 injuries in 2008 which represented a nearly 250% increase. Other age groups’ injuries increased about 60 percent.

Boomer bike riders are more likely to be hospitalized for their injuries as well, by about three times. Perhaps due to bone changes as we age, fractures and dislocations which are common for all injured bikers in accidents, were seen by the researchers to be in greater numbers for the older group. Other injuries were more likely in the older group as well — such as brain and organ injuries.

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