In order to promote safety on the roadways, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles runs campaigns throughout the year to highlight different issues affecting Florida motorists. May is Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Awareness Month and the FLHSMV is engaged in their Share the Road campaign.
A recent report by AAA stated that Florida has the most fatal motorcycle accidents in the nation, highlighting the importance of the Share the Road campaign. In 2015, 606 people died in motorcycle crashes in Florida—a 30% increase over the previous year. Sadly, 20% of the state’s motor vehicle fatalities are motorcyclists even though only 3% of registered vehicles are motorcycles. Our county, Hillsborough County, is the second worst in the state when it comes to motorcycle accident fatalities.
To address the high incidence of motorcycle accidents and motorcycle accident fatalities in the state, it’s important to understand their causes. In this way, we may be able to reduce them and safely share the road.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
There are three causes that stick out in motorcycle accident statistics: intoxication, speeding, and distracted drivers.
According to the NHTSA, 43% of motorcyclists killed in 2014 in single-vehicle crashes were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Not only is operating a motorcycle or other motor vehicle illegal while intoxicated, it also endangers the lives of the operator and everyone else on the road.
Speeding makes it difficult for a motorcyclist to react and increases the chances that they will lose control of their motorcycle. When speeding, more time is needed to safely stop and surfaces that are safe at a normal speed become unsafe. Speeding during poor weather compounds the issue. Speeding is a factor in many motorcycle accidents, both on the side of motorcyclists and drivers of other vehicles.
The most common cause of accidents between a motor vehicle and a motorcycle is inattention on the part of the driver of the motor vehicle. This may come as a surprise since riding a motorcycle is often touted as a dangerous activity, however, distracted driving or failing to properly look at intersection causes numerous accidents every year.
The main danger for motorcyclists comes at intersections when a car is attempting to turn left. The driver of the car may not look well enough to see an oncoming motorcycle or their visibility may be blocked. Whatever the cause, they turn left thinking there is no oncoming traffic and hit a motorcycle traveling in the opposite direction.
Tips for Avoiding a Motorcycle Accidents
While nothing can be done to completely prevent an accident, there are measures we can all take to reduce our risk.
- Never drink and drive. DUI laws in Florida cover all vehicles, including boats. A BAC of over .08 inhibits one’s ability to safely operate a vehicle and slows one’s reflexes. If you are planning on having a couple of drinks, it is important to make a plan. Catch a ride with a designated driver, plan to stay the night, or make other arrangements to get home.
- Following posted traffic signs and adhering to speed limits ensures one is able to easily and safely maneuver a vehicle. Speeding, especially during poor weather, endangers all drivers and makes it harder to react to other motorists.
- Defensive driving is an important skill that can save numerous lives. Most motorcycle accidents are caused by other motorists. Make sure you are paying attention to the road and not fiddling with your iPhone. Intersections are especially dangerous for motorcycles. Check and double check before making a left turn.
- Take a motorcycle safety course and learn more about safely operating a motorcycle.
Helmet use doesn’t help anyone avoid an accident, however, they can save a motorcyclist’s life. While Florida does not require insured adults 21 or over to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle, helmet use has been shown to decrease the risk of traumatic brain injury, the most common cause of death during a motorcycle accident.
Florida has gorgeous weather year-round. That means there will always be motorcyclists on the road. Motorcyclists and motorists can safely share the road when they drive defensively and limit distractions.
Injured? Seek Advice From a Skilled Tampa Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and are having trouble meeting your medical obligations or have encountered problems with your insurer, seeking legal counsel from a skilled Tampa motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine your course of action.
An experienced Tampa motorcycle accident attorney who understands the impact a motorcycle accident can have on your life can work with you to get the compensation you deserve. Motorcycle accidents can lead to severe injuries necessitating extended medical care. In some instances, injured parties miss work or lose their jobs, making paying for that care even more difficult. With a skilled Tampa motorcycle accident attorney on your side, you can focus on recovery while they seek justice on your behalf. To learn more about how a Tampa motorcycle accident attorney can help you, contact us today.