Defensive driving is important for all types of drivers, but even more so for drivers on motorcycles. No one knows better than a motorcycle accident attorney the difference that strategic driving can make. The fact that there are more motorcycles on California’s roads than in any other state is one reason motorcycle accidents are a big issue. But motorcycles also tend to be more severe in the damage they cause and the injuries that motorcycle drivers endure. The best way to avoid serious injury from a motorcycle accident is to prevent an accident from occurring in the first place. Defensive driving is the most effective way to stay safe while you are on the road.
Many drivers have the idea that defensive driving is another term for traffic school. They believe it is the punishment you get when you get a ticket and don’t want to pay a fine. Some drivers take a course to get points removed from their driving record or to save money on their insurance. In reality, the most important feature of defensive driving is that it is an effective, safe driving technique that prevents accidents and injuries and saves lives.
Motorcycle riders are much more vulnerable to injuries from accidents. They don’t have the metal surrounding them that car drivers have. They are also more likely to obtain a serious injury or be killed than someone in an enclosed vehicle. Although motorcycle drivers will probably always be at a greater risk of injury, there are some ways that they can reduce their risk of being in an accident to start with. The following tips from a San Diego motorcycle accident attorney will help prevent you and other drivers from becoming another statistic of the San Diego roadways.
Take a Defensive Driving Course for Motorcycle Riders
Even if you have taken a defensive driving course before, there are significant differences for motorcycle drivers. Other driver’s attitude towards motorcycles shifts the load of responsibility towards the motorcycle driver. They must be even more observant and cautious to prevent accidents that other drivers might cause.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is responsible for motorcycle safety training in the state of California. Their course can benefit both new and experienced drivers. It takes just fifteen hours including ten hours of actual riding and five hours in the classroom. California requires the course for drivers under the age of 21, but it is highly recommended for all motorcycle drivers.
Keep Your Motorcycle in Optimal Operating Condition
Even the smallest oversight like failing to fill up with fuel can put you at a greater risk of having an accident. Never take chances at running out of fuel and having to stop in the median or on the side of the road. Running out of gas in the middle of busy traffic could turn you into a sitting duck!
Also, monitor the wear of tread on your tires and keep them properly inflated. Keep the lights operational, fluids checked regularly, and don’t ignore any warning signs that there may be a problem. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Make Yourself Visible
Motorcycles are smaller than regular vehicles, and they are much easier to go unseen when they get in another driver’s blind spot. They are easy to miss when another vehicle changes lanes or makes turns. To increase visibility, keep your lights on during the day and night. Buy a brightly colored bike and helmet and refrain from wearing all dark colors.
Drivers sometimes have problems seeing motorcycles, even when they are not in their blind spot. You should always drive with the assumption that the other driver doesn’t see you, regardless of your proximity to the other vehicle. This will help you take a defensive approach in every situation.
Avoid Collisions at Intersections
The most common type of motorcycle-vehicle accident occurs at intersections. Motorcycle drivers should always try to avoid driving through an intersection in the left lane. Otherwise, when the car to the right makes the left turn, you will be at a much greater risk of a hit.
When approaching an intersection where a car from the opposite direction is preparing to turn left, maintain your speed unless you see that the oncoming car is going to hit you. Slowing or making eye contact can give the other driver the idea that you have relinquished the right-of-way. Drive assertively through the intersection with your eyes focused straight ahead, so they are clear about your intentions.
Wear Appropriate Motorcycle Gear
There is more to what you wear than just looking “cool” on your motorcycle. The most important safety gear for a motorcycle driver is the clothing they wear. The appropriate gear includes everything from a full-coverage helmet to over-the-ankle boots. You also need sunglasses or a helmet with a shield. Authentic safety gear is made with padding to cover your joints and protect them during a crash.
Not only does it matter that you have as much skin as possible covered; it also matters the quality of material that you choose to come between you and the pavement. You might think that escaping an accident with nothing more than a bad case of road rash is a good outcome. But sliding down the pavement at any speed can end up causing severe damage including disfigurement. Treatment could include IV antibiotics, cosmetic surgeries, and skin grafts. If the other driver causes the accident, the San Diego motorcycle accident attorney can fight to get compensation for your medical care. The better solution is to wear the appropriate gear to protect you from injury in the first place.
The helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment by far. When a motorcycle accident is fatal, it is often because of a traumatic brain injury. A TBI often requires extensive medical treatment and will impact your abilities for the rest of your life.
In California, every motorcycle driver and passenger of any age must wear a helmet. But wearing any helmet isn’t enough. The best helmet should be manufactured according to the standards of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and it needs to be a perfect fit. This helps to ensure the helmet stays in place during an impact and that it is comfortable to you even after hours of wear.
Stay in the Outermost Left Lane
This is the safest lane for motorcycles on multi-lane highways. It provides an easy exit from the road and minimizes your exposure to other vehicles that continually enter the highway from the right. The next lane over is more likely to have drivers changing lanes while the middle lanes usually have the greatest volume of vehicles. The one exception to this rule is when there is no shoulder off of the left lane. Then the middle lanes may be a better choice.
Avoid Lane Sharing
If you ride alongside another motorcycle, avoid riding side-by-side in the same lane. This cuts down your options to get out of the way quickly whenever another vehicle or other object gets in your path. Something as simple as avoiding a pothole can result into your running into the other bike. You will be safer and create better visibility to other drivers if you drive in a staggered pattern.
Know When to See a San Diego Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Any motorcycle accident has the potential to be serious or fatal. Even if you feel partially or totally to blame for your accident, you should talk to an experienced San Diego motorcycle accident attorney about your case.
California has comparative fault laws that may put either driver at partial or total blame for an accident. If you are injured, and the court determines you are 20% at fault, the other driver is still obligated to pay 80% of the total value of your claim. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you understand your rights and guide you through the claims process.
If you lose a loved one due to a motorcycle accident that was another driver’s fault, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Talk to a wrongful death attorney about getting compensation for your loss.
Due to the nature of motorcycle accidents, the medical expenses of a motorcycle driver are often much more extensive than those for other drivers. Potential surgeries, diagnostic tests, and treatments may become a part of your long-term lifestyle. All it takes is one accident to completely turn your lifestyle around.
Motorcycle drivers have every right to take their place on the roads. This doesn’t change the fact that they are at a greater risk of injury every time they do. Following these tips may be the step that you take that prevents you from getting an injury in a motorcycle accident.
If the worst happens, don’t hesitate to seek the services of a compassionate and knowledgeable San Diego motorcycle accident attorney. Contact Batta Fulkerson today for a team of skilled motorcycle attorneys with the experience to get the most from your settlement opportunity.