Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to distracted drivers. Motorcycles are relatively rare on US roads, making up only 3 percent of registered vehicles and only accounting for 0.6 percent of all miles traveled. Therefore, many of us do not have much experience sharing the road with them and are not very motorcycle aware.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that over 82,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2020 alone. Sadly, a further 5,579 lost their lives – 14 percent of all traffic fatalities that year. Unfortunately, distracted driving played a part in some of these accidents.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, we can only imagine the pain you must be going through. We know that nothing can undo the hurt you have suffered, but if a distracted driver was to blame, you might be eligible for compensation.
Talk to the compassionate motorcycle accident attorneys at Judd Shaw Injury Law to explore your legal options. Call us at 1-866-909-6894 or fill out the contact form on our website for a free case review.
Distracted Drivers: A Danger to Motorcyclists
Statistics published by the State of New Jersey show that in more than two-thirds of motorcycle crashes, the other driver never even saw the motorcycle before the impact. Motorcycles can be more difficult to see than other vehicles for several reasons. However, distracted driving can also cause drivers to lack awareness of the motorcycles around them on the road.
Why motorcycles are especially vulnerable
Motorcyclists are at a higher risk of serious injury or death from a collision because motorcycles lack the protection, stability, and maneuverability of a car. Thus, when an impact occurs, there is nothing but fresh air between the rider and the road or other obstacles. Just one wrong move from a distracted motorist can spell disaster for a rider.
Why drivers don’t see motorcycles
Motorcycles are much smaller than cars or other vehicles on the road. This can make them harder to spot in your rearview or side mirrors. If you fail to check your blind spots, they can also be alongside you without you noticing.
Larger vehicles can also hide motorcycles from our view, especially when they are traveling too close to each other. All of these reasons highlight the importance of being motorcycle aware at all times while driving.
Defining Distracted Driving
The Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Nobody intends to get distracted, but the consequences can be fatal.
The CDC reports that younger people are more likely to be distracted than older drivers. Additionally, 9 percent of 15- to 20- year-olds were distracted when they were involved in fatal crashes.
Distractions cause the standard of our driving to slip. We are less likely to anticipate hazards successfully and be aware of other vehicles around us, including motorcycles. Consequently, we may make poor decisions in responding to emerging situations on the road.
There are 3 main types of distraction:
Anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road is a visual distraction. Our cars are full of distractions, including radios, maps, cell phones, and heating controls. Even unusual things happening on the roadside or the driving of other motorists can cause our eyes to wander from the road ahead and vehicles around us.
With a visual distraction, your hands will probably still be on the wheel, but your eyes and mind may be elsewhere. If we fail to check our blind spots or what is happening ahead, it is easy to miss motorcycles. Remember that even a minor collision with a larger vehicle can be enough to cause a motorcyclist to lose control, with devastating consequences.
Manual distractions cause you to take one or both hands off the wheel. Some of the top manual distractions are eating, drinking, and smoking while driving. However, at the very top of the list of manual distractions and dangers is using a cell phone. In New Jersey, using a handheld communication device while driving is prohibited.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJ MVC) reports that “25 percent of all accidents involve drivers who use a cell phone”. For this reason, the state’s “Just Drive” initiative encourages all drivers to focus simply on driving whenever they are behind the wheel. To this end, the NJMVC even discourages using hands-free devices where possible.
Driving with both hands on the wheel is not just for beginners. According to the Association for Psychological Science (APS), you have far more control in maneuvering with two hands when faced with a sudden emergency. Drivers who hold the steering wheel in the recommended position also generally drive more safely than those who don’t, which is good news for motorcyclists.
Is it possible to drive with both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road, yet still be distracted? Absolutely. Cognitive distractions occur in the mind, often in the form of daydreaming or road rage.
When you are on a long trip, boredom can easily set in. You could find yourself dreaming about your next vacation and stop absorbing the hazards on the road, including motorcycles. Angry drivers are also more likely to drive aggressively. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), high-anger drivers drive faster, switch lanes rapidly, and tailgate – which can be a fatal combination with motorcycles.
Texting: The worst distraction
Texting can safely be called the most alarming and dangerous distraction for drivers. It involves your visual, manual, and cognitive processes, meaning there is little left to concentrate on the road.
That’s why, in New Jersey, texting while driving is a primary offense. If you use a cell phone while driving, the penalties are steep:
- $200 for the first offense
- $400 for the second offense
- $600 and 90-day license suspension for the third offense
However, these pale into insignificance compared with the penalties if you cause an accident that leads to serious injury or death while using a cell phone and driving. You could be prosecuted and face prison time of 5 to 10 years, along with fines of up to $150,000. In addition, you could be open to lawsuits from the victims and families of those who died.
Getting Justice After a Motorcycle Accident
After a motorcycle accident, you want to focus on rebuilding your health and piecing your life back together. However, that can be tough to do when you face rising costs and lower earnings. If your injuries were caused by a distracted driver, talk to the motorcycle accident lawyers at Judd Shaw Injury Law.
Our attorneys follow the “Judd Shaw Way,” which is what we proudly call our four core values based on being knights in shining armor for our clients. When we agree to represent you, we will use all our resources to fight to get you the compensation you deserve for the suffering you’ve endured.
The road to justice begins with a conversation with one of our caring and knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorneys. Schedule a case review by calling 1-866-909-6894. Alternatively, fill out our online contact form, and we will be in touch soon to set up a meeting.