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Motorcycle Safety

Written by Ankin Law Office

Warmer weather in the Midwest means that more motorcyclists on riding on Chicago area roadways.  Although motorcycle accidents are less common than auto accidents, they are considerably more severe.  Motorcyclists are not covered by the same protective barriers as cars and other passenger vehicles, making motorcycle accidents more likely to result in serious injuries or death than car accidents. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 96,000 motorcyclists were injured and 5,290 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2008

Motorcyclists can help prevent serious accidents, however, by taking certain safety precautions.

  1. Always wear a helmet. Although motorcyclists in Illinois are not required to wear helmets, more than 20 states require a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Moreover, the Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual strongly urges riders to use helmets that fit snugly, have no obvious defects and meet U.S. Department of Transportation and safety standards. One in five motorcycle accidents results in head or neck injuries, which can be reduced by the proper wearing of an approved helmet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet is 40% more likely to die from a head injury if in an motorcycle crash than a motorcyclist who was wearing a helmet. The CDC estimates that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and, in 2008 alone, more than 1,800 lives were saved by the use of helmets.
  1. Avoid tailgating and lane splitting. Lane splitting is the dangerous practice of moving between lanes of vehicles that are moving in the same direction but may be stopped or are moving slower than the motorcycle moving between them. Lane splitting is also referred to as lane sharing, whitelining, filtering or white-striping and it is illegal in most states. Lane splitting is a common cause of accidents and, accordingly, most states prohibit lane splitting though the laws of each state vary on the specific practices that are illegal.
  2. Use caution when approaching road hazards. Road hazards can cause serious accidents for motorcycle riders.  Some common road hazards include: railroad tracks and crossing areas, cattle guards, slippery car fluids, snow and ice, rain, gravel on pavement, objects in the roadway, and potholes.
  3. Obey posted speed limits and traffic signals.
  4. Wear protective clothing. Wear upper body clothing that includes bright colors or reflective materials so that other motorists can more easily see you. Illinois law requires motorcyclists to wear protective eye gear, unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen.
Categories: Personal Injury