Warmer temperatures mean only one thing for bikers – more time to cruise down the highway. But this can be a dangerous affair.
You may adhere to speed limits, obey traffic laws, and use all needed safety gear, but sometimes it’s not enough to prevent accidents and injuries. That’s because distracted drivers are the leading cause of motorcycle crashes, not the bikers themselves.
In 2019, approximately 2,871 people died in accidents reportedly involving distracted drivers. Motorcyclists accounted for nearly 14 percent of these fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 481,000 people use cell phones when driving. That explains the relationship between motorcycle deaths and distracted driving.
This article is for you if you want to know how to stay vigilant on the road to avoid distracted drivers.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving refers to any activity that could divert a person’s attention from their primary task of driving.
Anything from paying attention to the road and surroundings can distract a driver and increase their chances of causing an accident. Often, it is due to the driver’s negligence.
Some behaviors that lead to distracted driving include:
- Texting or calling on the phone
- Reaching for items in the car
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Adjusting the entertainment system
Any of these behaviors can distract a driver and lead to motorcycle accidents. However, texting when driving, according to the NHTSA, is the most dangerous and alarming distraction.
The NHTSA likens the five seconds it takes to read or send a text on the road to driving across a football pitch with your eyes closed.
What are the Different Types of Distracted Driving?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists down three types of distractions that a driver can encounter- visual, cognitive, and manual. Sometimes a distracted driving case can involve all three.
1. Visual Distractions
These are distractions to the eyes when texting, tuning the radio, or staring at something on the road. You cannot drive safely or identify risks once you take your eyes off the highway.
2. Manual Distractions
These are typical physical distractions, such as taking your hands off the wheel when driving. Examples include:
- Adjusting the seatbelt
- Grabbing food or drink
- Adjusting the stereo or electronic device
Controlling a vehicle with one hand on the wheel is tricky and can easily contribute to a distracted driving accident.
3. Cognitive Distractions
Mental distractions can switch the driver’s attention off the road. Loss of concentration occurs when talking to the immediate passenger, is daydreaming or upset.
These distractions can hinder you from making sound judgment decisions on the road.
What Does the Law Say About Distracted Driving on a Motorcycle?
Distracted driving involves various activities that can keep the driver from full engagement when operating a vehicle. As earlier mentioned, the activities can range from eating and drinking to fiddling with the sound system or simply talking to a passenger.
But statistics show that using a cellphone is the main form of distracted driving. So, considering how popular cell phones have become, states have resorted to enforcing laws to reduce distracted driving.
So far, 48 states have enacted a Hands-Free Law prohibiting texting and driving. Twenty-four states have gone a notch higher to ban handheld phone use when driving altogether.
Breaking any of these laws attracts penalties, including fines, license suspension, and serving a jail term.
Is it Always the Cyclist Who is Distracted?
Far from it, most of the time, it’s drivers of passenger vehicles who get distracted when driving. But that is not to say motorcyclists are not subject to distracted driving.
Motorcyclists are as vulnerable to distractions as drivers operating sedans or trucks. In fact, motorcyclists have more distractions to worry about, considering their lack of physical protection.
Whether a novice or an experienced rider, it’s essential to know these common distractions to avoid them.
Yes, motorcyclists have been known to use their cellphones when riding too. Talking on the phone is a significant distraction that often causes dramatic accidents.
Eating or Smoking
Motorcycles don’t necessarily require two hands to operate, and plenty of experienced bikers can snack or finish a cigarette when riding the bike.
However, anything occupying your hand and requiring cognitive abilities will take your mind off the road.
Things can become so mundane when cruising on the open road. Riding for long journeys can easily make your mind wander off- especially if riding in remote areas.
Rider fatigue can also increase your chances of daydreaming. It would help if you take frequent breaks for your body to rejuvenate.
Adjusting the Music
Every other rider arms themselves with an MP3 player to keep entertained when riding. The problem comes when you try changing music selections while still on wheels.
Taking your eyes and hands off the bike is quite a dangerous distraction that can cause fatal crashes. You can select your songs beforehand, so you don’t need to change them once your ride begins.
You heard that right. Motorcycle riders are often distracted by other drivers on the road than anything else- especially the bad drivers.
A bad driver can irritate you, distracting you from keeping an eye on the hazards or other vehicles. If you spot a bad driver, do your best to avoid them; else, they might distract you.
Remember, like any other motorist, you can be arrested for distracted driving a motorcycle. So, avoiding distractions on the road is in your best interest.
Got a Legal Issue? Let Us Help You Find An Attorney Near You
What Kind of Injuries Can Result from These Accidents?
Motorcycle accident injuries tend to be severe- and sometimes fatal. Some of the injuries that can result from when a distracted driver hits a motorcycle include:
1. Road Rash
Road rash occurs when the skin drags along the pavement at high speed. A motorcyclist skids across the pavement when thrown off the bike following a crash with another vehicle.
This skidding creates friction and heat, thus causing burn-line injuries to the skin.
2. Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to the CDC, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) affect the brain’s normal functioning. Any blows or jolting of the head back and forth during an accident can cause TBI.
The risk of suffering a TBI increases when the motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet.
3. Broken Bones
Broken bones and fractures are so common among bikers. That is understandable, considering bikers don’t have the protection of a passenger car’s metal box.
During an accident, the rider may fall off the motorcycle and land hard or at a wrong angle. They can end up suffering broken bones on the ribs, arms or legs, and wrists.
4. Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can change your life forever. These injuries commonly occur when a rider falls on their back or neck during an accident.
An impact on these regions can result in spinal injuries. Sadly, the damage can cause paralysis and physical disability.
5. Internal Injuries
A severe motorcycle accident can cause damage to the internal organs. Any damage to internal organs after a collision can result in internal bleeding.
A rider can experience internal bleeding in the chest, head, body organs, tissues, and more. Internal injuries can be life-threatening, so you should go for a medical checkup immediately after a motorcycle accident.
6. Emotional Trauma
Physical wounds are not the only types of injuries a motorcyclist can suffer. Accidents can cause emotional distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.
Never underestimate the emotional impact of a crash- it can take away your confidence in getting back on the road completely.
You need to hire an attorney if you suffer severe injuries after a motorcycle accident caused by a distracted driver. An experienced attorney can work with medical experts to assess your injuries and negotiate fair compensation.
What Does Insurance Do About Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving?
When you file a compensation claim for damages suffered in a motorcycle accident caused by a distracted driver, the insurance company will mount a strong defense against your suit. It will be up to you as the plaintiff to prove that the driver in question was distracted.
Once you provide enough evidence to validate your case, the insurance company will respond by making a quick and low settlement offer. Sometimes they do this even before you leave the hospital.
These offers rarely account for the future expenses and impact you will bear (which are unknown immediately after the accident).
Insurance companies do this based on the assumption that you haven’t hired an attorney yet and are faced with many uncertainties of the injury and financial burden. That means the claimant may be desperate enough to accept their offer.
Remember, settlement offers are a one-time deal. Once you agree to a small amount that won’t adequately compensate for your injury’s present and future expenses, you cannot return to demand more.
That is why you need an experienced motorcycle accident attorney on your side to negotiate on your behalf.
How Can you Protect Yourself from Distracted Drivers on a Motorcycle?
Cars are the greatest threat to you as far as motorcycle accidents are concerned. Unfortunately, avoiding a collision with a reckless driver may not always be possible.
You can do some things to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. When riding a motorcycle, here’s what to do against distracted drivers:
Every motorcycle rider should learn to ride defensively. Try not to ride in a car’s blind spots and stay visible in the rearview mirrors of other drivers.
It would help if you flashed your brake lights whenever slowing down or about to stop. Lane splitting is also a practice that you need to stop.
Stay to the Right
Keeping right on a two-lane road, even when coming to a stop, can give you some room to avoid a crash with a distracted driver.
People drift so quickly when checking their phones or engaging in other activities. Avoiding them by staying to the right can create some good cushion between you and oncoming traffic.
The best thing you can do to save yourself from becoming a victim of a distracted driver is to make yourself visible.
Consider wearing bright clothing (reflector jacket) and using a headlight even during the day.
Even though motorcycle horns are not loud enough, honking can force a driver to pay attention to you.
Injured by a Distracted Driver?
Several factors can lead to distracted driving that causes an accident. You can seek compensation for your damages if you have been injured after a distracted driving collision.
At Legal Giant, we have experienced attorneys who can investigate the accident and help you file a lawsuit to hold the at-fault party responsible. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and evaluation of your case today.