There has been a sharp increase in motorcycle accidents in
recent years. Over the past couple decades, the average number of motorcycle
accident fatalities has risen from under 3,000 per year to around 5,000 per
year, according to statistics from the Governors
Highway Association (GHA).
Motorcycle crash fatality rates started to climb above 3,000
in the early 2000’s, and they topped 4,000 for the first time in 2004. In 2007,
fatalities from motorcycle accidents crossed another tragic threshold by
breaking the 5,000 mark. Coincidentally, 2007 was also the year that Apple
released its first iPhone.
One possible explanation for the rapid rise in motorcycle
accidents is an increase in the number of motorcyclists that are on the road.
Motorcycle ownership hit an all-time high in 2018, with over 13 million bikes
owned by Americans. This was almost 1.5 million more than the previous record
from 2009. In addition, 93% of those bikes are in operation, which means there
are a lot more motorcyclists on the roadways these days than ever before.
While an increase in the number of motorcyclists on the road
certainly plays a role in the amount of accidents bikers get into, many experts
believe it is not the primary factor. The other major driver of motorcycle
accident fatalities is the nation’s distracted driving epidemic.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is anything that takes a motorist’s focus
away from their primary job of safely operating a vehicle. Drivers have always
had to deal with various distractions, such as unruly passengers, signs and
billboards that steal their attention for too long, eating and drinking, grooming,
tuning the car radio, reaching for objects in the vehicle, and in recent
decades, talking on their cell phone.
All of these distractions can contribute to vehicle accidents
under the wrong set of circumstances, and drivers should always refrain from these
activities as much as possible. That said, texting while driving and other
electronic activity on smartphones brings the dangers of distracted driving to
a whole new level.
Sending and receiving texts and other electronic messages
while behind the wheel is especially dangerous, because it distracts drivers in
three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. This takes a driver’s entire
focus off of the road, which can cause them to miss important things that are
How Distracted Driving Contributes to Motorcycle
Motorcyclists run a much higher risk of serious injuries and
fatalities due to distracted driving. Unlike motor vehicle occupants, bikers do
not have a steel cage to protect them during a crash. When a motorcycle collides
with another vehicle, there is not much that separates their body from hitting
the pavement. This is why motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to be killed
in a collision than occupants of other vehicles (per 100,000 miles traveled).
Another factor that puts motorcyclists at greater risk is
their low profile. There has always been an issue with other vehicle drivers
respecting motorcycles on the road, and it is the main reason for the Start
Seeing Motorcycles public awareness campaign that has been running for
several decades. But with so many drivers out there texting and doing other
things on their smart phone, the chances of not seeing the motorcycles they
share the roads with greatly increases.
How bad is the problem of distracted driving and motorcycle
accidents? According to a Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel report, nearly 40% of all motorcycle accidents now
involve a distracted or inattentive driver.
These accidents can happen for a number of reasons, some of
the most common include:
- A driver not seeing a motorcycle that enters their
- Drivers crossing the center lane or weaving back
and forth between lanes because they are too busy looking at their phone;
- Drivers turning left in front of an oncoming
motorcycle because they did not see it.
So, how does this problem get solved? States that have enacted
stronger cell phone and texting bans have seen motorcycle accident fatality
rates reduced by as much as 11%. But the penalties for distracted driving are
still not nearly on par with similarly dangerous activities, such as drunk
In Mississippi, for example, distracted driving laws have been
strengthened in recent years. But still, a regular driver who was caught
texting is only fined $100. This is probably not enough of a deterrent to
significantly change driver behaviors in our state, so, we still have a long
way to go.
Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in
Mississippi? Speak with an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer
Distracted driving presents a danger to everyone on the road,
and especially to motorcyclists. If you or someone close to you was injured or
killed at the hands of a distracted driver, you need strong legal counsel by
your side fighting hard for the full and fair compensation you deserve.
If the accident occurred in Mississippi, call Reeves and
Mestayer today at 228-374-5151 or message us online for a free consultation and
case assessment. We will meet with you to discuss your case and advise you of
your legal rights and options.
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