Although Motorcycle Safety Awareness month happens in May each year, the motorcycle season lasts through all the warm months of New England and well into fall and even winter.
If you’re an experienced rider or novice, maintaining several basic steps to ensure safety for yourself, your passengers, other riders, vehicles, and pedestrians are of the utmost importance.
Number one and most basic, wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet at all times while driving or riding on the back of a motorcycle is the number one factor for increasing your chances of surviving a motorcycle accident or reducing injuries. *See below for stats about motorcycle head injuries and deaths.
Avoid the blind spots of fellow drivers on the road. Do your best to position your motorcycles such that you don’t ride in the blind spot of other vehicles.
Choose a motorcycle with anti-lock brakes (ABS). According to the International Institute of Highway Safety, “the rate of fatal crashes is 31% lower for motorcycles equipped with optional anti-lock brakes than for the same models without them.”
Maintain your bike’s best working condition. A bike in good condition reduces the chance that you’ll experience mechanical issues while on the road. As a result, you can avoid pulling over in dangerous spots.
Be aware of your surroundings. Diligently check mirrors and use turn signals when changing lanes, passing, and turning.
Remain aware of any road hazards and dangerous weather conditions like rainstorms in the warmer months.
Reduce your distracted driving. This could mean turning down your music and/or talking less with your passengers if you have them.
According to the CDC, “The latest research indicates that helmets reduce motorcycle rider fatalities by 22 – 42% and brain injuries by 41 – 69%.”
So should you wear a helmet while driving or riding on a motorcycle? The answer is Yes!
Motorcycle helmet laws vary by state.
Maine law requires all motorcycle and sidecar passengers under 18 to wear a helmet. Motorcycle operators licensed within one year of completing a driver’s test and those operating under learner’s permits must also wear helmets. New Hampshire does not have a motorcycle helmet law.
Universal helmet laws may exist within different states in which case, a universal law requires that all riders/passengers wear a helmet no matter his/her age or experience. “Universal motorcycle helmet laws, which apply to all riders, resulting in the only safety measure that has been proven to reduce motorcycle deaths. Universal helmet laws result in increased helmet usage rates, and decreased fatalities.” (CDC)
Unfortunately, only 19 states, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a universal helmet law, requiring helmets for all riders. This is down from 1997 when 26 states had universal helmet laws in place.
3 states, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire do not have a motorcycle helmet law.
28 states have partial helmet laws, which apply to young riders only. According to the CDC, states with these partial laws experience about the same rate of helmet use as states with no helmet laws at all! (Which demonstrates these partial laws are not effective!)
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of motorcyclist fatalities by 37-42%.
Motorcyclists not wearing a helmet are 3x more likely than helmeted motorcyclists to suffer a traumatic brain injury (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety).
Riders without helmets are 40% more likely to die from a head injury than riders wearing helmets (CDC).
Studies have shown that helmets that meet the standards set by the US Department of Transportation do not restrict your vision or interfere with your hearing (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety).
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident and are seeking legal representation for recovering the costs of your injuries, handling insurance companies, or have questions that need answering, please contact Mann Law today for your free consultation. We are an experienced personal injury law firm with over 22 years of experience. We Will Help.