An Arkansas jury awarded $1 million in damages to the victim of a motorcycle accident who lost part of his leg. The Plaintiff claimed damages for being hit by a car that pulled out in front of him. As more and more people are riding motorcycles and motor scooters on Arkansas roads and highways due to high gas prices, serious personal injuries from motorcycle accidents are happening more often.
A recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the number of people killed in traffic accidents decreased 3.9% in 2007. However, motorcyclist fatalities increased for the tenth consecutive year, rising 6.6% in 2007 to 5,154, the highest number since the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration began recording fatality crash data in 1975. Motorcyclists accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities in 2007. Further, the number of motorcyclists injured in traffic accidents increased by an even greater amount. Approximately 103,000 motorcyclists were injured in traffic accidents in 2007, an increase of 17%.
There are many opinions regarding why this increase is occurring. From my experience, other drives do not pay attention to motorcycles and do not follow the Rules of the Road when encountering a motorcycle. The NHTSA has adopted the following model Share the Road recommendations that it hopes will help educate drivers of motor vehicles on the importance of sharing the roads safely with motorcyclists.
* Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway.
* Allow the motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem as though there is enough room in the traffic lane for an automobile and a motorcycle, remember the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
* Approximately one-half of all motorcycle crashes involve another motor vehicle. Nearly 40 percent were caused by the other vehicle turning left in front of the motorcyclist.
* Motorcycles are small and may be difficult to see. Motorcycles have a much smaller profile than vehicles, which can make it more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
* Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows the motorcyclist to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
* Remember that motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look due to their smaller size. Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
* Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – motorcycle signals usually are not self-cancelling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
* Remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to you pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists may change speed or adjust their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
* Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, following a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. In dry conditions motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
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