As the weather heats up, motorcycle enthusiasts are ready to get their bikes on the road. Just recently, however, several fatal motorcycle crashes in the greater Boston area have gotten the warmer months off to a tragic start. A motorcyclist died after colliding with a car, another died after losing control of a bike he had owned for only a few months. Riding a motorcycle can be a fun, adrenaline-pumping activity, but it is important to understand the inherent risks of riding a motorcycle, and the best ways to stay safe while still enjoying the ride.
Motorcycle Safety 101
The State of Massachusetts has very stringent laws in place to govern the safety of its motorcycle riders. Among other things, Massachusetts law requires the following:
- A specialized motorcycle license;
- Carrying (at least) the minimum required insurance;
- Helmets to be worn;
- Eye protection to be worn during the instructional permit period following full licensure;
- Passing annual safety inspections; and
- Operating headlights.
There are additional and differing safety standards and requirements for other types of motorized vehicles such as mopeds and scooters. These types of vehicles have some of the same safety limitations and concerns that motorcycles do, and should also be driven with extreme caution.
A motorcycle is not a car, but must adhere to most of the driving laws that a car must follow. A motorcycle or other motorized bicycle lacks the protection of a vehicle encasing the driver and passengers and therefore, must exercise extreme caution when on public roadways, especially when traveling at high speeds.
When a driver is in an accident in a more traditional, four-door vehicle, there are numerous safety protections in place. An airbag may deploy, drivers behind the car will see brake lights and will likely see the car itself, and injured drivers or passengers will likely remain in the vehicle following the accident. Motorcycle accidents, however, are a different story and more difficult for passersby to see. A motorcycle rider may be ejected off of the bike and become difficult for oncoming traffic to see. Though there is no real way to prevent this after an accident, there are some precautions motorcycle riders can take to improve their visibility and increase their safety. These include:
- Wearing reflective gear;
- Wearing “defensive” padding that can help with road rash and prevent serious injury in the event of an accident;
- Utilizing hand signals if turn signals are not working;
- Riding within the speed limits, obeying traffic signals, and only passing other vehicles at lawful times;
- Wearing facial protection in addition to helmet use; and
- Riding within your limits (i.e. beginners should not ride in adverse or nighttime conditions; and experts should not test the boundaries of the law by unlawful passing or excessive speeds).
Regardless of skill level, motorcycle riding is both fun and dangerous; riding within your limits will ensure your safety and protect the safety of those around you.
Boston Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
John J. Sheehan’s experienced team of personal injury attorneys knows how to navigate motorcycle accident litigation in the greater Boston area. If you or anyone you know has been injured on a motorcycle or as a result of an accident with a motorcycle, we can help. Contact our Boston office to seek recourse for your injuries and to learn more about your legal rights.