What drivers and motorcyclists can do to keep each other safe

Throughout May, which is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the National Safety Council reminded both drivers and motorcyclists of their responsibility toward one another. Motorcyclists composed 14% of all traffic fatalities in West Virginia and across the U.S. in 2017 even though motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles on the road.

In most collisions between vehicles and motorcycles, it is the driver of the former who is to blame because he or she violates the motorcyclist's right of way. Drivers frequently fail to see motorcycles because they are small or because they are in the vehicle's blind spot. Drivers may also fail to anticipate a motorcyclist's movements.

However, not all motorcyclists are free from blame. In 2017, for instance, 28% of motorcyclists who died in accidents were found to have been alcohol-impaired. In addition, 1,908 motorcyclists who died that year were not wearing a helmet. Helmets have a 37% chance of preventing fatal injuries, but they must be approved by the Department of Transportation and cover the whole head. Even in states that do not require helmets, it's a good idea to wear one.

The motorcycle itself should be appropriate for the rider. Supersport bikes may be attractive, but their death rate is four times that for standard motorcycles.

There are a number of ways that motorcyclists can be in an accident for which they are not to blame. For example, defective motorcycle parts may have contributed to the crash, in which case the manufacturer may be held liable. Other times, it's a driver who is at fault. Whatever the case, injured motorcyclists who intend to file a claim and be compensated for their injuries and other losses may want legal representation. A lawyer may negotiate with the other side for a settlement.

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