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March 23, 2018

How Distracted Drivers Cause Motorcycle Crashes

Motorcyclists Blame Distracted Drivers For Increase In Motorcycle Crashes

Motorcycle accident fatalities rose dramatically in recent years. The number of fatal crashes surged 10 percent from 2014 to 2015 and increased an additional 5.1 percent in 2016, according to statistics from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

There's no question that fatal motorcycle accidents are more common, but while safety experts and organizations are furiously trying to determine a cause for the increase, some motorcyclists have a working theory that places the blame squarely on the shoulders of distracted motorists. And, if past studies are any indication, they may not be wrong.

Experts at the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research conducted an analysis of 10 years of motorcycle crash data. In accidents where a motorcycle and vehicle collide, the driver of the vehicle is at fault 60 percent of the time. Insurance giant State Farm agrees, telling its customers, “Collisions with motorcycles are usually the non-motorcycle driver's fault.”

Man drinking coffee and using mobile phone while driving car

Notably, one of the most common explanations drivers give for hitting a motorcyclist is they simply didn't see them. Driver distraction plays a role in approximately 10 percent of all fatal traffic accidents, according to the NHTSA.

If you're considering taking legal action to seek compensation for injuries or property damage sustained in a motorcycle accident caused by a distracted driver, here's what you need to know.

About Distracted Driving

Distracted driving, which is defined as any behavior or activity that takes someone's focus away from driving, is an increasingly common problem in the United States. In 2015 alone, according to the NHTSA, distracted driving accidents killed 3,477 people—and injured an additional 391,000. Common distracted driving behaviors include:

  • Phone use, including calling, texting, or surfing the internet
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming, such as combing hair or applying makeup
  • Using an in-vehicle stereo, entertainment, or navigation system
  • Adjusting the heat or air conditioning
  • Reaching for something in another part of the vehicle
  • Conversing with passengers
  • Disciplining children
  • Smoking

While any distracted driving behavior can potentially lead to an accident, safety experts have singled out texting as especially dangerous behind the wheel, as it involves all three forms of driver distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive.

Texting requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, at least one hand off the wheel, and their mental focus off the task of driving safely. Additionally, reading or sending a text message takes a driver's eyes of the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 mph, that's long enough to travel the length of an entire football field.

Common Reasons Why Drivers Don't See Motorcyclists

There are a number of reasons why drivers might fail to see a motorcyclist with whom they're sharing the road. The main reason, according to a study cited in an article published by the Association for Psychological Science, is they just aren't looking for them. Other frequent reasons:

  • Drivers are too busy watching for cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles
  • Motorcyclists and their machines have small profiles, and drivers are used to watching for large vehicles and objects
  • Motorcyclists move and react to road and weather conditions and traffic differently than vehicles do, and in ways that vehicle drivers might not expect

Consult an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney

In collisions between motorcycles and passenger vehicles, the motorcyclist and bike bear the brunt of the injuries and damages, which is why it's so important for motorcyclists to ensure their rights are protected after an accident.

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The award-winning personal injury attorneys with McGartland Law Firm can help you explore your options. Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.

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