While summer is still upon us, avid cyclists are quick to take advantage of the warmer weather. Many of them, especially motorcycle, scooter and minibike drivers, cite not only the thrill that accompanies riding a bike, but also the inescapable feeling of freedom that comes from flying down a road (well, more like driving really fast), with nothing manmade (i.e. car doors and roofs) between themselves and nature. However, motorcycle accident attorneys caution that the very thing that makes cycling so appealing is too often the very same thing that results in fatal motorcycle accidents.
While riding with the wind in their hair (or, more hopefully, buffeted against their helmets), some cyclists (especially those who are more inexperienced) tend to throw something else to the wind as well- caution. This is particularly true during rush hour traffic.
How often have you yourself been stuck in Atlanta traffic, your car engine idling, gas evaporating from the tank before your very eyes, when suddenly you heard the unmistakable purr of a motorcycle engine as its owner guides it along the very same highway you traverse? The purr gradually becomes louder, and you watch enviously as the motorcyclist coaxes his bike do something you could never do in your vehicle. As he zips across lanes and between cars you realize that his actions, while probably convenient for him, are actually a motorcycle accident waiting to happen. One wrong move by the cyclist or a motorist on the highway or even a surface street could lead to a deadly collision.
This summer Georgia has seen this idea culminate in several fatal accidents. A Cumming, Georgia man lost his life just this past week when a car collided with his bike. The driver, who was attempting to make a left-hand turn, has been charged with second degree vehicular homicide, and failure to yield, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Another, eerily similar accident occurred in Lawrenceville, Georgia this June, with another driver attempting to make a left turn into a store parking lot, and subsequently turning into the path of an oncoming motorcycle. There were fatalities in that crash too. Both accidents are evidence that motorists often fail to be vigilant when it comes to maintaining a lookout for motorcycles and bicycles of other sorts.
While the aforementioned accidents clearly demonstrate that vehicle drivers need to exercise just as much, if not more, caution than cyclists themselves, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation lists several key safety messages for cyclists on its Website:
1. Get trained and licensed
2. Wear protective gear — all the gear, all the time — including a helmet manufactured to the standards set by the DOT
3. Ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs
4. Ride within your own skill limits
5. Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses
In addition to these tips, the Foundation rightly states that “Better rider education, licensing, and public awareness mean safer motorcycling.” Indeed, since motorcyclists are 26 times as likely to suffer a wrongful death in an auto accident as passenger car occupants, it’s better for cyclists to practice extreme safety, in lieu of relying on the hope that car drivers will extend them the same courtesy.