Biggest Threats to Motorcyclists| High Summer Crash Numbers

Motorcycle riding is fun but it can be dangerous. Motorcycles are less stable than cars and less visible to other drivers. The number of motorcycle crashes in Missouri since May 1, 2022 has exceeded 180 motorcycle crashes. Additionally, there have been increased ATV/golf cart type crashes, including fatalities. Unfortunately, the motorcycle rider is not allowed a lot of room for errors as the slightest error can result in a serious crash. Some of the biggest threats to motorcyclists include inattentive drivers, road conditions, and animals.

Failure to Keep a Look Out for Motorcycles

When other vehicle drivers fail to see motorcycles, it can be catastrophic for the motorcyclist. While a motorcyclist can do just about everything correctly to be safe, other drivers pose a threat. When we say “threat:, we do not mean that other drivers purposely cause threat or attempt to endanger motorcyclists. Clearly, any distracted or inattentive driver poses a threat to all other motorist as well. In crashes where a motorcycle is struck by a passenger vehicle, it often goes badly for the motorcyclists. If you don’t ride a motorcycle, then you may not think this is your problem–You would be wrong. We all share the roadway whether you are on a bicycle, motorcycle or in a commerical truck. Your level of awareness and feelings of invincibility may increase with your vehicle size, but crashes are nightmares whether your are hurt or you inadvertently hurt someone else.

We often talk about “threat level” and that phrase is not mean in a literal sense such as a purposeful action to harm another. When you are in a passenger vehicle, you do not consciously or subconsciously view smaller vehicles as a big of a threat to your personal safety. If you are at a four-way stop and you see a semi truck bearing down on your vehicle, you view that as quite a physical threat opposed to a bicycle or motorcycle coming at you. Honestly, as a personal injury attorney, motor vehicle crashes of any kind are a nightmare for the injured. Crashes occur because a driver or drivers fail to follow a rule of the roadway. “Accidents” meaning an event that occurs purely by chance is exceedingly rare. We all agree to follow the rules of the roadway and we have engage in some trust that others will follow the agreed upon rules. Roadways are shared and all of us have a right to use them (with appropriate registration and licenses).

I must pay attention and keep a lookout for other vehicles and I must trust that other motorists will do the same. I know, some days navigating in St. Louis traffic will make you doubt your faith in other people’s driving responsibilities.

Road Conditions

Small changes in road conditions can greatly impact a motorcyclist. Road change such as moisture, uneven pavement, and potholes can result in loss of control and crashing. Wet pavement can be treacherous for motorcyclists especially if they do not allow for weather changes but anything that impacts the ability of the tire to grip can cause hazard. Sand and oil on the roadway can also be hazardous. Potholes are really disastrous for motorcyclists if they are traveling a high rates of speed such as on major highway and interstates. As well, any debris in the roadway can be really hazardous such as rocks and objects that fall off of other vehicles including tire treads.

Lawn clippings– Unless you are a motorcyclist, you probably don’t think that much about lawn clippings being dangerous for motorcyclists. However, lawn clippings from your mower that land on the roadway can make the surface slick.

Deer and Other Animals in the Roadway

While hitting an animal with your passenger car can be really serious, it is always serious for motorcyclists if not fatal. Any animal in the roadway can be hazardous if a motorcyclist hits it. The most common animals that flit across the roadway include opossum, rats, beavers and even cats and dogs. While the Missouri State Highway Patrol experts tell passenger vehicle drivers to DRIVE THRU the animal, however, that is NOT recommended while on a motorcycle. It is imperative that motorcyclists use caution especially in the evening and pre-dawn hours as deer are most active at those times. In viewing the most crash data in Missouri, most of the motorcycle crashes involving deer in the roadway occurred after 7 p.m.

High Summer Crash Numbers

Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in traffic collisions than passenger vehicle occupants and five times more likely to be injured.

Examination of the MSHP crash data reports over 100 motorcycle crashes for each month of June and July. There were about 80 motorcycle crashes across Missouri in the month of May alone which included about 86 injured people. There were 12 fatalities and 33 serious injuries. Of those injured, only half were wearing helmets (around 40) while 46 of those were not wearing helmets. While helmets are no longer required in the state of Missouri in order to be in legal compliance (if you are over a certain age)–helmets save lives. Of the 80 motorcycle crashes, there were an additional 25 ATV crashes including three fatalities. In June, we had 111 people injured in motorcycle crashes with 11 fatalities and 51 serious injuries. Of the 111, 60 were wearing helmets and 56 were not helmeted.

In June, of the 111 crashes, 36 involved crashes with other vehicles and 17 involved animals in the roadway.

In July, there were approximately 106 people injured in about 100 motorcycle crashes. Of those, 50 were wearing helmets and 56 were not. There were 14 fatalities and 53 serious injuries. Additionally, there were 33 ATV crashes, including four fatalities and 12 serious injuries. About 14% of the motorcycle crashes involved other vehicles and 7% involved animals in the roadway.

Thus far in August, there have been 29 motorcycle crashes and about 15 ATV collisions as of 8/11/22

Types of Motorcycle Crash Injuries

Motorcycle crashes are often very serious and all too often, fatal. Motorcycle riders continue to be overrepresented in fatal traffic crashes. In 2020, 5,579 motorcyclists died. According to the NHTSA, more than 80 percent of all motorcycle crashes result in injury or death. A motorcycle crash is a violent event. Ejection from the motorcycle is the most common injury pathway. If a motorcycle comes to a sudden stop and the rider is ejected from the motorcycle, the rider will forcibly strike objects in the path as well as the ground. Compared to a passenger vehicle, the motorcyclist has almost no protection. Safety experts recommend that all motorcyclists wear approved helmets and protective gear. Leather jackets, pants, and gloves all help protect the skin from severe road rash in the incident of a crash. While it may be tempting to hop on the back of a bike in your shorts and flip-flops, it is not safe.

Brain Injuries (TBI) Traumatic brain injuries occur frequently in any type of motorcycle crash because the head is vulnerable. While modern medicine can do wonders, there is a great deal we do not know about the brain. Other than relieving pressure, there is not a large number of surgery options when it comes to a traumatic brain injury. Brain injuries are not just coma and death, but can result in drastic change in quality of life permanently. Often time, brain injury is permanent. Severe brain injuries are life changing but so are mild-traumatic brain injuries. In mild traumatic brain injuries there can be significant memory loss, mood changes, depression, changing in coordination to name a few.

Spine Injuries-Again, motorcycle crashes are violent events. The trauma to one’s spine can be catastrophic. Spine injuries present anywhere from permanent paralysis, disc injury and many other painful symptoms. Spine injuries are often permanent as well even if surgery is successful. Obviously, few surgeries assist a patient in recovering from paralysis but spine injuries often haunt the patient permanently

Broken or Amputated Limbs. Broken bones are very common in motorcycle crashes. When a rider is pinned between the motorcycle and another vehicle or ejected from the motorcycle, often a broken bone is the less serious of injuries. Sometimes, limbs are so destroyed that amputation is required. Clearly, amputation injuries are permanent

Lacerations and Road Rash. Again, many are grateful for just some lacerations. Others motorcycle crash victims have such road rash they require burn unit treatment and skin grafts. It can be a relatively minor motorcycle crash that can result in serious road rash and scaring. Again, the scaring is usually the least of the concerns as some lacerations and burns can be so traumatic that the use of the limb can be severely impaired. Road rash can be disfiguring.

Discussing common motorcycle crash injuries are not intended to be morbid. Motorcycle crashes are violent evens and we should all take steps to lookout for motorcycles. Most of the long-riding motorcyclists recognize the need for safety education, safe riding gear, and proper maintenance of their motorcycle. There is no such thing as being “too safety conscious” as a motorcyclist. Successful motorcyclists never play around with safety.

Wear a Helmet

The single most important safety device a motorcyclist can have is a helmet. Motorcycle helmets have a hard outer shell that distributes the force of an impact to protect the skull and prevents objects from piercing it. The crushable inner liner limits the force of impacts by absorbing a portion of the energy that would otherwise reach the head and brain. As the helmet does it job, the number and severity of head injuries can be significantly reduced. Of course, the key is–an appropriate helmet meeting federal safety standards has to actually be worn for them to work. While motorcycle helmets are not legally required in Missouri as of the fall of 2021, we have seen a significant increase in serious injuries and fatalities. In evaluating the Missouri motorcycle crash data since May 1, 2022; more than half of those riders were not wearing helmets.

Motorcycle helmets do not prevent all injuries or fatalities just as seat belts do not prevent all injuries or deaths in passenger vehicles. Motorcycle helmets reduce the severity of some injurie and prevent fatalities every day.

Steps After a Motorcycle Crash

Steps after a motorcycle crash are often different than following a passenger vehicle crash for the primary reason that most motorcycle crash victims are transported via ambulance. Those seriously injured victims are able to give statements at the crash scene or take photos simply because they are not there. If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash with another vehicle, you will need legal help.

After seeking medical help–call an attorney. After a serious crash and injury, the injured are laying in a hospital bed with a Worry List that is unfathomably long. When you are hurt, you are worried about medical bills, your job, your family and what in the world your next few days, weeks and months will look like. It is so overwhelming. We help clients address one day at a time while thinking about the long-term. It is what we do.

We represent people injured in motorcycle crashes. If you are seriously hurt, you need to be resting and focusing on your healing–not giving statements and trying to predict unpredictable medical treatment and costs.

Thus, the step to take after a serious motorcycle crash is to hire an attorney- contact us online or via phone.

We are available 7 days a week at 314.276.1681 or toll free 1.800.685.3302

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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