The month-long awareness campaign highlights a growing danger on our roads.
With May comes warmer weather and the beginning of peak motorcycle and bicycle season. In Louisville and across Kentucky, more and more bikers are taking to the roads — and unfortunately, that brings an increased risk of motorcycle accidents.
That's why Kentucky has declared that May is Motorcycle and Bike Safety Awareness Month, as part of the national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month campaign. Both campaigns seek to educate drivers about sharing the road and watching out for vulnerable road users to prevent potentially fatal accidents.
When a bicycle or motorcycle is involved in a wreck, serious injuries are common
Even with helmets and other protective gear, a bike simply does not provide the same level of protection as an enclosed vehicle. According to national statistics, an overwhelming 80% majority of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death, compared to just 20% of accidents involving cars. In Kentucky in 2021, there were a total of 1,490 crashes involving motorcycles, with a total of 1,085 injuries and 99 deaths — the vast majority of them among bikers, not occupants of other vehicles.
Cyclists are just as vulnerable on the road. In 2021, Kentucky cyclists were involved in 325 accidents — nearly all of which involved a vehicle — and suffered 239 injuries and nine fatalities.
The injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident can be severe and life-altering, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including concussions.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI), which can cause paralysis (paraplegia or quadriplegia) and other life-altering symptoms.
- Biker's arm, a type of nerve injury that can cause permanent loss of use of the arm.
- Loss of limbs (amputation).
- Road rash, a severe skin injury that may require reconstructive surgery or skin grafts.
- Broken bones, especially the legs and hips.
- Internal injuries and internal bleeding.
The stakes are high. And while road safety is a shared responsibility, operators of larger vehicles need to be especially vigilant to avoid causing serious harm.
How to safely share the road with motorcyclists
- Avoid distracted driving at all times. Bikers and cyclists are easily overlooked by distracted drivers. Motorists need to refrain from texting, talking on cell phones, or engaging in other distracting behaviors like eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, and rubbernecking.
- Check your blind spots. It's easy for a bicycle or motorcycle to end up in a car's blind spots. Always double-check before turning or changing lanes to avoid sideswiping a biker or forcing them off the road.
- Maintain a safe following distance. A bike has a much shorter stopping distance than a car, and motorcycles often downshift to slow down, which means the brake lights won't serve as a warning. Maintain at least 4 seconds of following distance to avoid causing a rear-end collision.
- Give plenty of space laterally, too. While a bike does not take up as much space on the road as a car, bikers still need the full lane in order to maneuver around hazards. Never drive side by side with a bike in the same lane, and always leave plenty of room while passing.
- Check twice at intersections. Intersections are hotspots for motorcycle and bicycle accidents. Always check twice before proceeding through an intersection or making a turn.
- Yield the right of way. Motorcycles and bicycles are vehicles, and bikers have just as much right to be on the road as drivers of cars and trucks, so act accordingly. For instance, when making a left turn, you need to yield the right of way to an oncoming bike just as you would yield to an oncoming car.
If you've been hurt in a motorcycle accident, we can help
Injured bikers have rights under Kentucky law. You should be compensated for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages as a result of your accident. However, actually getting that compensation can be difficult. Insurance companies know that motorcycle and bicycle accident claims have high stakes, and they work hard to pay victims as little as possible. You need the right motorcycle accident attorney to level the playing field.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, contact the Whaley Law Firm for a free consultation. We have the experience and resources to play hardball with the insurance companies, and we have a winning track record in motorcycle accident cases. Our firm proudly represents injured bikers in Louisville and throughout Kentucky.