Posted on August 19th, 2020 by Zane Cagle
Summer is motorcycle season. Motorcycles account for only 1% of miles driven in the U.S., yet they make up 15% of traffic deaths. Since 2004, over 4,000 people have died every year up to 2014 in motorcycle crashes. In 2007 and 2008, deaths exceeded 5,000 per year according to the Insurance Information Institute. Motorcycle crashes are almost always serious. Most often when a passenger vehicle or commercial vehicle collide with a motorcycle, the results are catastrophic. Thus, we each and every one MUST pay extra close attention to other motorists on the roadway. Even if you do not ride motorcycles, motorcyclists are our friends, family members and neighbors. Motorcyclists have equal rights to safe roadways. According to the crash reports by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, it is most horrifying when we see that many crashes are preventable. We each can contribute to the safety of all motorists by personally committing to follow the rules of the road.
Why do we write about motorcycle crash fatalities?
We bring attention to these tragedies in an attempt to promote safety and encourage every motorist to keep a lookout for motorcyclists, bicycles and scooters. These tragic deaths don’t just impact the family, they have a direct impact on the communities were these crashes occur and to the communities in which each of these individuals added lived. Simply getting on the roadway can be scary if you are thinking about the number of crashes. Thus, we do have to feel that we have some power over our destiny by being a safe motorist. Safety is not a one-driver job. It requires that we all slow down and pay attention. We adopt and follow rules of the road so that we can all travel safely. Knowing that you might inadvertently cause injury to another person is life-changing and that knowledge should make us want to be extra careful and follow the rules of the road.
There have been nine (9) motorcycle crash fatalities in 17 days in MO
Simply stated, nine deaths is way too high for Missouri. Each one of these victims has friends, family and co-workers who will inevitably feel permanent loss. We specifically do not list names of any victims as a mere report cannot begin to describe the loss and pain experienced by each person’s family and community. The listing of these incidents serves one purpose–to raise awareness and increase our efforts at promoting safety for all motorists.
Butler County– a 53-year-old Poplar Bluff, MO man was killed when the scooter he was driving traveled down the wrong way on U.S. 67, overturned and was ejected. Another vehicle, a Ford pick-up then struck the driver of the scooter. The incident occurred around 3:30 a.m. on August 1, 2020, 2 miles north of Poplar Bluff.
Pettis County – A 43-year-old La Monte, MO man was killed as the ATV he was riding traveled off the eastbound of a private road, overturned while negotiating a slight curve. The incident occurred off US 50 and was presumed to have occurred during the evening of August 2, 2020.
Saline County-A 17-year-old female was killed and her 17-year-old passenger seriously injured when the driver lost control of a Polaris Ranger UTV, traveled off the right side of the roadway, struck a ditch and overturned. Both occupants were ejected. This incident occurred around 1:45 p.m. on August 3, 2020 on Mariner Ave at 270th Road.
Barton County – A 77-year-old Liberal, MO man was killed while riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle. According to the MSHP, a Ford 7000 pulled into the path of the Harley Davidson. A Jasper, MO man was driving the Ford 7000 and was not reported as injured. The crash happened about 3 p.m. on Route Y, 5 miles northwest of Jasper, MO on August 6th.
Pulaski County – A 64-year-old Waynesville, MO man was killed when his Harley Davidson motorcycle traveled off the right side of the roadway and the driver was ejected. This crash occurred around 10:50 p.m. on Highway T, 1/2 mile south of Swedeborg, MO on August 6, 2020.
Clay County – A 33-year-old Lawson, MO woman was killed after the Harley on which she was a passenger was struck by a Honda Civic attempting to turn left from northbound US 69 onto westbound MO-92. The front end of the Harley struck the right rear side of the Honda Civic. Both occupants on the Harley were ejected over the handlebars of the bike. The 32-year-old Lawson, MO driver of the Harley Davidson suffered minor injuries according to the MSHP report and the driver of the Civic was reported as not injured in the crash of August 8, 2020
Gentry County – A 61-year-old Stanberry, MO was killed. The Stanberry man was riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle and was traveling eastbound on US 136 behind a Kenworth semi-truck. The semi-truck was attempting to turn north onto Route F as the Harley attempted to pass the truck. Impact occurred as the front of the motorcycle struck the drivers side cab of the truck. After impact, the Harley overturned. The collision occurred around 9:25 a.m. on August 15, 2020. MSHP reported the victim
Mercer County – A 64-year-old De Kalb, MO man was killed when in an apparent ATV drag race and was northbound and the driver was unable to stop at the conclusion of the race. The front of the ATV struck a utility pole where it came to rest. The crash occurred around 6:30 p.m. at Mercer Homecoming Park, US 65, 1/2 mile north of Mercer on August 15, 2020.
Dade County – A 52-year-old Walnut Grove, MO man was killed after his Harley Davidson motorcycle traveled off the right side of the roadway, struck ground and overturned and ejecting the driver. The crash occurred at 1:35 p.m on Route U, two miles east of Dadeville on August 17, 2020.
The fatal crashes listed above are the crashes as reported by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. While MSHP does work many serious motorcycle crashes, there may be more crashes where local municipalities and sheriff departments reported. While these crashes are all very different, they have one thing in common–loss through serious injury and death. Nine motorcycle fatalities in 17 days is a tragic number and incalculable amount of loss.
Keep a Look Out for Motorcycles!
According to research, for motorcycle riders, people in “cages” (those driving cars and trucks) bear a disproportionate share of the blame for the high number of motorcycle crashes across the country. Approximately 3/4 of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, most often passenger vehicles. About 1/4 of motorcycle accidents are single-vehicle crashes involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment. Six of the above listed motorcycle crash fatalities appear to be single-vehicle crashes, however, three of the fatalities involved other vehicles. Often, when analyzing motorcycle crash injuries or deaths, many factors have to be evaluated such as the road condition, skill level of the driver and terrain. In single vehicle collisions, about 2/3 of the accidents are caused by rider error, typically a slide-out or fall due to over braking, running wide on a curve due to excess speed, or under-cornering. Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes and other hazards) cause about 2 % of all motorcycle accidents; and animals account for only about 1% of all accidents. In multiple vehicle accidents, 2/3 of the crashes are caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcyclist’s right-of-way.
If you ride motorcycles, then you are familiar with the common causes of crashes with other vehicles including left hand turns, improper passing and visibility. As drivers of passenger vehicles, we each have to check our blind spots while on the roadway to be sure that we do not strike other vehicles. Visibility is a problem for motorcyclist simple because they are smaller and are not viewed as “threat”. The term “threat” gauges the conscious and unconscious perception of drivers in relation to other vehicles. For example, if you are getting ready to go through an intersection, you view large trucks as a threat compared to your passenger vehicle. Thus, you logically know that a large truck can do some major damage to your vehicle if involved in a crash. It is not something that most motorists consciously think about. We see large trucks because they are bigger and we are naturally alerted to them due to their size and the threat of the damage that can result from a crash. Likewise, with motorcycles, they are harder to see, they may seem further away, and we may misjudge their speed and subconscious. Smaller vehicles are not as big of a “threat” for those very reasons. As a passenger vehicle driver, we have literal “cages” around us in the form of the auto body. Whereas, motorcyclists do not have the frame of the vehicle for protection.
Implement the driver safety rules when pulling onto a street or intersection: look left, look right and left again before pulling out. Slow down and seriously LOOK for other motorists.
Turning that subconscious way of thinking into a safety reminder is important. As a driver of any vehicle, you can directly contribute to the reduction of crashes of all kinds by simply keeping a careful lookout. We each have an obligation to keep a lookout for all other motorists on the roadway.
Wear a Helmet
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets during that same time period, an additional 79 lives could have been saved according to their study. While most states have some sort of helmet law, Missouri Governor recently signed a bill that weakens the Missouri mandatory helmet law. No other state has repealed their helmet mandate and saw a decrease in motorcycle injuries or deaths. In fact, every other state that has relaxed their mandatory helmet laws have seen drastic increased in serious injuries, head injuries and fatalities. Illinois has not had mandatory helmet law for quite some time and their state continues to have a high number of motorcycle serious injuries and deaths.
We know that helmets have a great impact on reducing severity of head injuries and preventing fatalities. Do helmets guarantee you will not be injured? Of course not. Helmets are very similar in concept as seat belts in cars. Seat belts do not promise that you will not be injured in a crash, but they keep you in the vehicle to avoid ejection. Likewise, motorcycle helmets offer increased protection for motorcyclists’ heads. Just as in a passenger vehicle crash, sometimes the blunt force trauma of a motor vehicle crash or motorcycle crash is simply more than the body can absorb. In the nine fatalities in August in Missouri five people were wearing safety devices (helmets) and four were not. Overall, we know from years of research that helmets help reduce the severity of injury and in some cases, save lives.
Motorcycle Crash Losses are Devastating
The loss of life due to a motorcycle crash is frequently far more than just medical bills. Often, an insurance adjuster will just look at the cost of medical bills when considering a claim. Clearly, when loss of life occurs at the scene of a crash, the medical bills are not high. However, the loss of life for a family and community is staggering. If you have lost someone in a motorcycle accident, it can become very overwhelming to have an adjuster attempt to put a price on the loss. In many motorcycle crashes, there are staggering medical bills and the medical treatment is only the beginning. In any scenario involving serious injury or loss of life, discussing it with an insurance adjuster is frustrating.
At The Cagle Law Firm, we represent those who have been seriously injured and families of those fatally injured. It is a process. We are always honored when a family or victim chooses us to tell their story and negotiate on their behalf. Each crash is unique like the people involved. We know there is not a “formula” for a severe injury or death. You should seek legal information before making any considerations for compensation. Before making any kind of decisions about the future, you should talk with one of our attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm. We offer free consultations to anyone injured in motorcycle crashes.