Tips to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident in Maryland
Riding your motorcycle is one of the most exhilarating, exciting ways to enjoy warm weather in Maryland, whether you are hitting the road for fun, commuting to and from work, or running errands around town. However, motorcyclists must always be mindful of the threats that surround them. You are not protected by a metal shell like occupants of passenger cars and trucks, making you extremely vulnerable to serious injury in a crash. Plus, the size of your vehicle makes you less visible to other motorists who may overlook your presence on the road or in their mirrors. Of course, motorcycle riders are also more susceptible to rain, wind, road conditions, and other factors as compared to other vehicles.
Based upon these considerations, motorcyclists must be proactive in protecting themselves from harm. The defensive driving techniques you learn as the operator of a car or truck are often not enough under the circumstances, so take the time to review some motorcycle laws and safety tips to avoid an accident. In addition, you should always keep in mind that you do have rights if you are involved in a crash, and a Maryland motorcycle accident attorney can help you recover compensation for your losses.
Maryland Motorcycle Licensing and Laws
Proper safety in riding a motorcycle starts with ensuring that you are in compliance with all state laws regarding licensing. The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration is charged with establishing and enforcing regulations regarding motorcycles. Many of the requirements depend upon your age, your current license, and whether you were licensed to ride a motorcycle in the past. Therefore, note that:
- If you are new to motorcycling, you must fill out an application form, pay an application fee, pass a vision test, and show proof that you are 18 years or older. You must also pass the motorcycle knowledge test, the details of which are covered by the Maryland Motorcycle Operator Manual.
- If you are under age 18 years, there are additional requirements beyond the above criteria. You must complete the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program’s Basic Rider Course before applying, and need to have your parent or guardian sign the application form.
Of course, even if you are not required to take a course, it is smart to participate in sessions that teach about safety.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
Beyond proper education and licensing, there are additional safety recommendations that can help you avoid a motorcycle accident or protect you if you are involved in a crash.
Wear a Helmet
If you follow one safety tip, it should be this one. Maryland law requires operators and passengers to wear appropriate head protection while the vehicle is in motion, but the misdemeanor charge and $500 are not the only incentives to do so: You are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury if you are not wearing a helmet and are involved in a motorcycle accident. Even if you survive a crash, you are three times more likely to sustain serious head trauma as compared to those who do have a helmet on.
Still, not all helmets are the same, so you should carefully review your options when investing in a helmet. Try on several models for comfort and size, and make sure the equipment fits snugly when you secure the chin strap. Also, consider helmets with face shields or eye protection built in.
Wear Other Safety Gear
Besides your head, you should pay attention to protecting other parts of your body when you head out on your motorcycle. Road rash is one of the most serious types of injuries that can occur as you skid across pavement in a motorcycle accident, so consider investing in:
- A jacket and pants or chaps made of leather, denim, or another heavy-duty material;
- A durable set of gloves;
- Leather boots that come up to you knees; and,
- Goggles or other protective eyewear, if your helmet does not include proper protection.
When looking at attire for motorcycle riding, you should factor in visibility issues. Other motorists are more likely to see you and avoid hitting you if your clothing includes light-reflective strips or patches.
Motorcycle enthusiasts have developed a methodology for riding that, with dedication and practice, can keep you safe for many miles and years to come. The “SEE” System incorporates certain defensive driving tactics, along with additional safety precautions specifically designed for motorcyclists. According to the acronym, you should take care to:
- S = Search around you for potential hazards, including other cars, trucks, pedestrians, and inanimate objects;
- E = Evaluate the hazard and anticipate how it may affect your maneuvers, especially vehicles that are turning, changing lanes, or stopping suddenly; and,
- E = Execute preventative or evasive action to safely and effectively avoid the hazards presented.
Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents
Part of the reason Maryland laws on licensing are so strict, and the reason you should exercise proper motorcycle safety, are the harrowing statistics on accidents. Consider the following numbers from data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- In 2016, 5,286 motorcyclists were killed in accidents, which represents a 5% increase over the 5,029 riders who killed in 2015.
- According to 2016 figures, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries as compared to occupants of passenger vehicles.
- Among riders who suffered fatal injuries in accidents in 2016, 27% did not have a valid motorcycle license.
- Alcohol use is an extreme concern in motorcycle accidents. Of the motorcyclists killed in single vehicle collisions in 2016, 37% were alcohol-impaired. The risk is more significant at night.
- The NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of almost 2,000 motorcyclists in 2016 and, if all riders had been wearing a helmet, around 800 deaths could have been avoided.
Schedule a Consultation with a Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
For more information on motorcycle safety tips and what to do if you were injured in a motorcycle accident, please contact the Baltimore office of Bob Katz Law to schedule a free consultation. One of our experienced personal injury lawyers can tell you more about your legal remedies as a victim of a motorcycle crash.