Failure to “Share the Road”
Every motorist has a responsibility to share the road with others, and this is especially true for those sharing the road with motorcycles. Because these vehicles are smaller and more difficult to spot, drivers must be cautious at all times.
Examples of failing to share the road include:
- Failure to check blind spots
- Turning or changing lanes without signaling
- Failing to exercise caution when passing
- Failure to leave adequate distance between vehicles
- Failing to watch for turning motorcycles
- Not exercising extra caution during inclement weather
- Failing to turn off high-beams when encountering a motorcycle at night
Motorcyclists depend on others on the road to exercise proper care and caution, and to do their part to avoid accidents at all costs.
It is impossible to drive safely if your focus is not on the road. A distracted motorist could easily fail to see a motorcycle rider, and could cause a devastating accident as a result.
Some of the most common forms of distracted driving include:
- Talking on the phone (even while in hands-free mode)
- Fiddling with the stereo
- Using mobile apps, including navigation apps
- Talking to other people in the vehicle
- Tending to children or pets in the back seat
- Eating and drinking
Even taking your eyes off of the road for a moment could be enough time to cause a crash. Any non-driving activity is potentially dangerous and should be avoided.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter drugs, or illegal drugs is negligent driving and could have serious consequences. In a single recent year, drunk driving killed 10,497 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drinking can cause significant impairment to a person’s ability to drive safely. It can cause the following:
- Loss of judgment
- Altered mood
- Decline in the ability to track a moving object
- Reduced coordination
- Lowered alertness levels
- Release of inhibition
- Delayed response in recognizing emergency situations
- Difficulty steering
- Loss of small muscle control
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Difficulty maintaining speed or keeping the vehicle in the same lane
- Reduced information-processing capabilities
- Short-term memory loss
- Loss of balance
- Delayed reaction time
- Difficulty hearing
- Impaired perception
- Slowed thinking
- Difficulty braking properly
- Difficulty handling more than one task at a time
- Difficulty staying awake
The use of drugs could have similar effects, depending on the substance taken and its effects or side-effects. In general, motorists should avoid taking anything that could impair their judgement or reflexes in any way. Failure to do so could cause a serious collision with a motorcycle or other vehicle.
Unsafe Lane Changes
Motorcyclists could be severely injured if a motorist makes an unsafe lane change. This is a common cause of accidents, often caused by a driver’s failure to look for motorcyclists and execute the maneuver with adequate care and caution.
Some common types of unsafe lane changes include:
- Failure to check both mirrors before changing lanes
- Failure to check blind spots before switching lanes
- Failure to signal before changing lanes
- Changing more than one lane at a time
- Drifting into another lane due to intoxication, drowsiness, or distractions
In many instances, an unsafe lane change will be a traffic violation, and the driver responsible could be liable for any injuries resulting from an accident.
Speeding is a major contributing factor in many accidents, resulting in nearly 10,000 deaths in a single recent year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Speed limits are established with the goal of ensuring that everyone on the road will reach their destination safely. Failing to observe the posted speed limit on any particular stretch of road could result in a serious accident.
Speeding is dangerous because:
- The faster a vehicle travels, the more quickly it will respond to steering (often leading to over-steering accidents).
- The faster a vehicle travels, the slower it will respond to braking.
- In the event of a collision, higher speeds will result in greater impact forces, resulting in more severe injuries.
One of the riskiest areas for motorcycle riders is at intersections where oncoming vehicles may make a left turn into their path. When making a left turn, motorists must not only watch for oncoming traffic, but also must be aware of vehicles in their own lane that might be attempting to pass on the left. All-too-often drivers either fail to check for motorcycles before turning into them or may misjudge the speed of an oncoming vehicle before making the turn.
Many of these accidents could be avoided if the at-fault motorist had yielded the right-of-way, or had been more observant and cautious when making the left-hand turn. A failure to accurately judge speed, distance, or exercise due caution could result in a devastating crash.
A head-on collision involving two vehicles is always a terrifying prospect. These accidents usually result in severe or fatal injuries because the force of impact is doubled when both vehicles collide at speed. A head-on collision involving a commercial or passenger vehicle and a motorcycle is almost always catastrophic for the motorcyclist.
Some of the most common reasons a driver might drift into an oncoming lane and cause a head-on collision include:
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Inclement weather
- Speeding and loss of control of the vehicle
- Tire blowouts
- Unsafe left-hand turns
Lane splitting (or white lining, as it’s also known) is a maneuver that some motorcyclists use in which they drive between two lanes of traffic that is stopped or moving slowly. They often do this at traffic lights or in congested traffic.
Lane splitting is often dangerous because other drivers may not see the motorcyclist coming. If a motorist decides to change lanes, the motorcyclist may have very little space to maneuver, and could be unable to avoid hitting or being hit.
Because lane splitting is illegal in Louisiana, the rider might be found at fault for the crash. Even if you were hurt while lane splitting it is vital to contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to get a thorough evaluation of your crash and to discuss your legal options.
What might be an insignificant obstacle for a passenger vehicle could often cause a motorcyclist to lose control of their vehicle. Motorcycles are less stable, meaning even minor defects in the road could cause a serious accident.
A rider could be injured if they encounter any of the following road hazards, for example:
- Debris on the roadway
- Poor lighting
- Steep shoulder drop-offs
- Cracked or uneven pavement
- Slippery surfaces
- Objects in the roadway
If your accident was caused by a road hazard, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can investigate and determine if the government agency or company responsible for maintaining the road might be responsible for the accident.