Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on May 7th, 2019,
by Zane Cagle

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Posted on May 7th, 2019 by Zane Cagle

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

It is not by chance that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. May coincides with the increased traffic of motorcycles in the spring.  During the Midwest winters, we get out of practice of looking for motorcycles unlike the balmy states such as Florida.  We all must be in the mindset of looking out for motorcycles so we can all avoid motorcycle crashes with other vehicles.

Keeping an eye out for motorcyclists just doesn’t happen quick enough in the greater St. Louis area.  We must strive to do much better. By now, each of us should be well aware of the sound of motorcycles on our roadways. Motorcyclists are expected to use safety measures. Motorcycle riding doesn’t allow for many mistakes by riders thus, if someone has been riding for a number of years, then by avoiding crashes, they have demonstrated they use safety.   Motorcycle riding simply does not allow even for minor mistakes by motorcyclists.

According to the US Department of Transportation, there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2016 which was a 5 percent increase from 2015 with 5,029. Those deaths account for the 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. This increase in motorcycle fatalities continued a horrible trend over the last three years where fatalities have increased since 2014.

Motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in motor vehicles crashes and five times more likely to be injured.  The NHTSA-funding research has shown that drivers of passenger vehicles are distracted 50 percent of the time which is disastrous for motorcyclists.  And, improper use of a vehicle’s mirrors contribute to collisions particular with smaller motorcycles. Again, paying attention to your blind spots as a passenger car driver. 

Responsibility to Keep a Lookout- Perceived Threat Level

Everyone has a responsibility to keep a careful lookout for other vehicles including tractor-trailers, passenger vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.  Subconsciously, drivers of passenger vehicles do not view motorcycles as a high threat level; and I do not mean a threat as in “attack”.  For example, if you come to an intersection and you see a box truck entering the intersection, you know that box truck can do some serious damage to your vehicle and yourself if there was a crash. We know this consciously and subconsciously. Inversely, if you see a bicycle or motorcycle, it does not register as a large vehicle and we perceive those smaller vehicles as a lower “threat level”.  Of course, we do not like to think of driving in the view of “threats”, but we mean “threat to your safety”, not a literal, criminal threat.

Each driver has to be a purposeful and use extra effort to keep a look out for ALL vehicles no matter their size or “threat level”. Even if a motorcycle or bicycle may not be an enormous threat to your safety especially if you are in a large truck, the very idea of striking another vehicle is horrifying.

Three Motorcycle Fatalities Over the Weekend in Missouri

Three motorcyclists were killed this last weekend in Missouri according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. These three were worked by the MSHP, thus there may be additional motorcycle crashes and resulted in three deaths. A 55-year-old Pacific man was killed on an I-44 exit ramp when his tire came into contact with a semi-truck.  In St. Charles County, a 58-year-old Warrenton man was killed and in Daviess County, a 62-year-old Trenton man was killed in a single-vehicle crash.

St. Louis Area Fatal Motorcycle Crashes

At the beginning of April, a 47-year-old Kirbyville, Missouri man was killed in a crash on Telegraph Road. The motorcycle was heading south on Telegraph Road when it struck a Kia Rio sedan that was turning onto the northbound lane of Telegraph. The crash occurred at approximately 2:45 p.m.

On April 4, a 39-year-old Creve Coeur man was killed in a two-car crash on Decker Lane

In March, there were a number of fatal motorcycle crashes involving other vehicles. In Warren county, a motorcycle rider was killed and his female passenger was seriously injured when they were hit by a car at night.  The motorcycle was westbound on Veterans Memorial Parkway when it was hit by a northbound car at Stracks Church. According to the MSHP, the car failed to yield at the intersection. Both motorcycle riders were wearing helmets.

These crashes all involved other motor vehicles and in every scenario, the motorcyclists were fatally injured.  In many situations, the cause is a simple failure to yield.

Keeping a Vigilant Lookout for All Vehicles

No matter where you drive, you must keep a careful lookout for all vehicles from tractor-trailers to bicycles. If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, you know the claim process can be somewhat difficult. Rarely do insurance carriers really work to full compensate you for your injuries and frequently, they question what you are even doing on a motorcycle!  Insurance carriers are happy to sell you insurance and then question your activity if you need to make a claim, but that can be the nature of any insurance claim if you are hurt.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash with another vehicle, the most common reason the other driver gives is “I didn’t see them”. However, as drivers we have an obligation to see all other vehicles on the road. Thus, “not seeing” someone is rarely a great excuse but it is the most common. Possibly worse than being “liable” for a crash is the concept that as a driver you simple didn’t see someone and struck them, possibly fatally injuring them.  The idea that I might inadvertently hit a motorcyclist while I’m driving causes me a great deal of concern.  As I’ve represented many motorcycle crash victims, I know how quickly it can happen and how devastating it can be, thus I think about it frequently.

If you’re hurt, you need to be sure you hire an attorney who understands the complex contradictions of insurance adjusters and attorneys who question a motorcyclists equal access to the roadways and sense of safety.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally, 314.276.1681