There’s a persistent—and false—belief that motorcycle riders are less safety-minded than drivers of passenger vehicles. In the popular imagination, a biker is seen as scofflaw, a rebel, and a guy who can’t be bothered to follow rules—and one who laughs at the people who do mind the law.
Honestly, we know some bikers who are pleased they have that maverick image, and they play it up a little. But the majority of our motorcyclist friends are ordinary folk who are as concerned about safety as anyone else.
The fact is, though, that motorcycles are involved in serious traffic accidents in North Carolina more often, proportionally, than any other vehicle, and those accidents are far more likely to result in severe injuries. However, it is most often the biker and his passenger who suffer those injuries. In North Carolina motorcycle collisions with other vehicles, the motorcyclist is at the greatest risk. National statistics show that when an automobile and a motorcycle collide, it’s the fault of the car driver two times out of three.
The three reasons for motorcycle accidents in North Carolina
Three factors account for the majority of injury-causing motorcycle accidents involving multiple vehicles:
- Motorcycles are smaller than cars. They are harder for truck and car drivers to see, and they are more likely to “disappear” in the blind spot of a passenger vehicle driver. Psychological studies of driver attitudes also find that car and truck operators become conditioned to look out for vehicles of similar size; the drivers effectively “edit” motorcycles out of their attention because bikes are not a threat.
- A motorcycle is inherently less stable than other vehicles. Bikes are designed to be light and maneuverable, with a relatively high center of gravity. In many cases, this is an advantage. In an emergency situation, a motorcycle may have difficulty stopping safely and can easily be thrown into a skid. Riders are often thrown from their vehicles to land on the highway or collide with objects.
- Motorcycle operators lack safety protection. In a car, the vehicle’s rigid body, seat belts, shoulder harnesses, and airbags protect the driver and passengers. A biker has only his helmet and protective gear. He’s essentially exposed to all the hazards of the road when a North Carolina highway collision occurs.
The implications for road safety
Sharing the road with motorcycles has to be a cooperative effort for all drivers. Motorcyclists must learn to signal their intentions, to stay visible to cars and trucks, and to maintain a safe stopping distance.
Drivers of larger vehicles have to make an additional effort to accommodate motorcyclists. When a driver is forced to make a last-minute adjustment to avoid colliding with a motorcycle, that maneuver itself may trigger a collision with another vehicle. Avoiding those dramatic maneuvers by remaining alert to motorcycles is one key to safer driving.
When we maintain awareness and caution while driving, we can avert many accidents between motorcycles and other vehicles. The roads are intended for use by all vehicles. It’s up to us as drivers to make sure that everyone’s right to use North Carolina roads is respected.
Contact an experienced Wilmington personal injury lawyer when accidents occur
Whether you are a motorcyclist, a truck driver, or an automobile passenger, you will find it’s wise to contact experienced legal representation if you are hurt in a North Carolina traffic accident because of someone else’s poor judgment.
The Wilmington injury attorneys at Speaks Law Firm have worked extensively—and with great success—representing clients in New Hanover County and nearby towns. Call us toll-free at 877-593-4233 to arrange for a FREE case conference with one of our lawyers, and we’ll give you a FREE copy of our helpful book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book.
That’s just one way we want you to be comfortable with our legal team. Call today and learn how we plan to get you the best compensation available under the law for your injuries.