As the proverbial “dog days” of summer are upon us, the motorcycle season in Missouri is winding down. That is not to say that the risk to motorcyclists across the “Show Me State” has lessened, though. There may be fewer motorcycles on the roads in the coming weeks and months, but those that remain are still in danger of being involved in an injury-causing or fatal motorcycle accident. Given the huge size and protection disparities between a motorcycle and a passenger or commercial vehicle, it isn’t necessarily surprising that motorcyclists involved in accidents tend to suffer more injuries, and that their injuries tend to be more severe. Aside from basic safety gear like helmets (as required by Missouri Law Section 320-020.2), sunglasses or goggles and durable clothing like leather jackets and chaps or boots, motorcyclists are relatively unprotected on the road. The same reasons that motorcycles are popular with many riders – feeling the wind and the warmth of the sun as well as more freedom of movement – makes them dangerous because they don’t offer the same support structures that cushion vehicle occupants.
According to data provided by the Insurance Information Institute, motorcycle riders are more than 26 times more likely to die in a crash than vehicle occupants are, and are five times more likely to be injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, in 2012 alone, nearly 5,000 people died in motorcycle crashes. This represents a year-over-year increase of more than seven percent.
Obviously, the lack of protection afforded by a motorcycle is part of the reason why serious injuries and fatalities are so likely, but why is it that motorcycle accidents occur at all? One of the main reasons is visibility. It is, simply put, harder to see a motorcycle than a vehicle, particularly at dusk or dawn, or on overcast days when there is not as much natural light. This is especially true if the motorcycle is painted a solid color, has few reflectors and isn’t illuminated by a headlight. Due to their visibility issues, intersections are also more hazardous for motorcyclists; 70 percent of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections, often because other drivers fail to notice the motorcycle and strike it while executing a turn. In addition, road conditions that pose minor annoyances for other motorists can be dangerous for motorcyclists, including speed bumps, “rumble strips,” ruts, potholes, uneven pavement, gravel roads, mud, oil slicks, debris and railroad tracks. Any of those can make a motorcyclist lose control of the bike, causing the bike to lay down or collide with something else.
Clearly, a single article can’t give you all the possible information available about Missouri motorcycle accidents. You can receive answers to your questions and learn more about injury-causing motorcycle crashes from an experienced personal injury attorney.