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Share the road: May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Wheels of motorbikes standing in a row close up

Now that temps are finally starting to heat up in Kansas, there will be a growing number of motorcyclists going for rides on the Sunflower State's roads and highways.

With scenic views and plenty of places to explore, Kansas has a lot to offer motorcycle enthusiasts.

But as traffic begins to revert to pre-pandemic levels, drivers are being reminded once again that motorcycles are everywhere and they have just as much a right to the road as other motorists.

Every May during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, motorists are encouraged to practice safe driving habits and following a few helpful tips to prevent causing a devastating motorcycle crash.

Motorists need to stay focused and share the road

Earlier this spring, the Wichita community suffered its first motorcycle fatality of the year when a 29-year-old motorcyclist died in a tragic crash with a pickup truck.

Wichita Police say the victim was stopped on his motorcycle on Pawnee Street waiting to make a left turn when a car being operated by an inattentive driver struck him from behind and pushed him into oncoming traffic. Despite life-saving efforts, the rider died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.

Unfortunately, these types of motorcycle crashes are happening more often in Kansas and across the country. According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 5,000 motorcycle riders died in roadway crashes in 2019, continuing the tragic trend of motorcyclists being overrepresented in fatal traffic crashes.

The problem will only continue to get worse if drivers and motorcyclists alike don't stay vigilant about safety.

5 tips for drivers to prevent motorcycle accidents

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation and AAA have joined forces to raise awareness about the importance of motorcycle safety and safe driving habits.

Crash statistics show that more than half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle, and in those crashes, the motorcyclist is rarely at fault.

Approximately three-fourths of all motorcycle accidents involve other vehicles, with other drivers failing to grant the right-of-way to the motorcyclist the cause in about two-thirds of those crashes.

It's worth noting that on average, a motorcyclist has less than 2 seconds of reaction time to avoid a collision.

With that in mind, here are 5 tips motorists can follow to help prevent a collision with a motorcycle rider:

  • Stop speeding — The faster you're driving, the less time you will have to react to a motorcyclist at a stop, going through an intersection, slowing down, changing lanes, or pulling out into traffic.
  • Back off — A motorcycle rider might roll off the throttle or downshift to reduce their speed, which means the motorcycle's rear lights won't activate to provide a visual warning to drivers behind them. Never follow too closely. Experts agree that you should keep a following distance of around 3-4 seconds when traveling behind a motorcyclist.
  • Pay attention — It's easy to miss a smaller motorcycle when you're behind the wheel of a car, but how are you going to see a motorcyclist if your nose is buried in your phone or you've shifted your focus to a conversation with a passenger? Always keep your eyes on the road and stay alert.
  • Activate your signals early and often — Using a turn signal is one of the first things new drivers learn to do, but for some reason, a lot of motorists don't bother to use them. Aside from being inconsiderate, not using your turn signals is dangerous because other road users — including motorcyclists — can't make adjustments to their driving since they don't know what you're doing.
  • Beware of blind spots  — Double and triple check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or backing up. Since motorcycles are much smaller than standard passenger vehicles, it's easy for them to be obstructed by your car's doors and roof pillars.

Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear a helmet and protective gear, enroll in a defensive driving course, be mindful of weather conditions and road hazards, and perform regular maintenance on their motorcycles to keep them in good working condition.

"Safety is important every day we ride, and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a great time to emphasize our safety messages to drivers and riders alike," said Erik Pritchard, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. "As we look forward to peak riding season, we welcome the opportunity to kick off a summer of safety in May."

Bretz & Young stands up for injured riders

If you were injured or a loved one died in a motorcycle accident due to negligence, you have recourse under Kansas law to pursue compensation for your losses. Depending on the specific details of your case, you may be able to recover compensation for your current and future medical bills, lost wages if you can't work, loss of earning capacity, replacement services, your pain and suffering, and other applicable damages.

Don't leave it up to an insurance company to decide the fate of your case. Insurance companies are notorious for disputing and denying claims involving motorcycle accidents, and if they do make you an offer to settle, it's most likely going to be for much less money than you deserve.

At Bretz & Young, our motorcycle accident lawyers serve as aggressive advocates for injured riders in Kansas and know how to maximize the value of claims. We literally wrote the book on Motorcycle Injury Law and take pride in fighting for motorcyclists who were injured due to the reckless actions of others.

Our case results speak for themselves — in one case, we obtained a $23 million settlement for a client involved in a serious motorcycle crash.

Find out what an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can do for you and contact us today for a free case consultation.

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