Motorcycle accidents in the Philadelphia area are often not caused by motorcycle operator fault, though the motorcyclist pays a high price for the other driver’s negligence.
The recent fatal crash in Towamencin Township between a sedan and motorcycle reminded us at Ginsburg & Associates that, whether at fault or not, motorcyclists usually bear the brunt of other driver’s mistakes. The motorcycle passenger died as a result of a collision when an oncoming car turned left into the path of the Harley Davidson bike. Neither car occupant was injured, while the motorcycle driver had to be airlifted to University of Pennsylvania hospital in critical condition.
Motorcycles are popular and economical in the Philadelphia area. Situated so close to nature and meandering back roads, with narrow city streets and limited parking options, the city also offers enticing nightlife and venues that make motorcycles a practical choice.
Motorcycle drivers have many safety features available to them, such as helmets, inter-helmet radios, anti-lock brakes and strong headlights. In Pennsylvania, helmets are optional for drivers 21 and over, but Philadelphia emergency room doctors call motorcycles “donorcycles”for a reason. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says motorcyclists were more than 26 times more likely than passenger car or truck occupants to die in motor vehicle crashes in 2012, the latest year for which data is available. They were also five times more likely to be injured.
The most common reasons for motorcycle accidents:
- Vehicles turning left—As with the Towamencin Township fatal accident, cars make left-hand turns directly into motorcycles, accounting for 42 percent of all crashes between bikes and cars. The reduced visible size of motorcycles is often blamed, though most bikers ride with headlights on all the time.
- Head-on collisions—Motorcyclists suffer the highest fatality rate from this type of crash
- Lane splitting—Here, the motorcyclist is at fault, but lane splitting is illegal in Pennsylvania
- Road hazards—Potholes, icy conditions, road trash or uneven lanes cause significant risks to motorcyclists
For motorcyclists, sharing the road with larger, heavier vehicles puts them at a disadvantage—no steel frame around them, nothing to protect from road abrasion, and no crumple zones to absorb impacts—and increases the odds of motorcycle accidents.
Though motorcycles comprise a very small portion of American road vehicles, their drivers unfortunately make up too large a share of fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS), motorcyclists accounted for 13 percent of all traffic deaths in 2013, the latest year for which data is available. Just as alarming, as passenger vehicle deaths have steadily decreased, motorcyclist deaths have held steady or risen over the past decade.
Motorcyclists are not without accountability. Many motorcycle accidents are caused by excessive motorcycle speed. When cars and motorcycles mix, however, the passenger car (or truck) driver is often at fault. Failure to see the motorcycle is a common reason given, but other driver mistakes lead to motorcycle accidents, too:
- Cars or trucks change lanes in front of motorcycles unexpectedly
- Cars or trucks hit motorcycles from behind
- Drivers in parked vehicles open their doors in front of motorcyclists
After a Philadelphia-area accident between a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle, clear thinking may not be possible, especially if a fatality occurs. You have worries of your own. Safeguarding your rights to recover damages requires thoughtful, experienced legal representation.
Many times the motorcyclist—such as the Towamencin Township Harley Davidson operator—is not at fault, but suffers from others’ negligence. Ginsburg & Associates can investigate and pursue all remedies to provide you with adequate compensation for injuries and losses as a result of motorcycle accident. Contact Ginsburg & Associates today.