There’s no feeling like being on your motorcycle on the open road. Feeling the low hum of the engine while the air rushes past you is exhilarating.
Unfortunately, the driver and passenger are at a higher risk of injury because of the motorcycle’s open structure. Common causes of motorcycle accidents in Kentucky center around driver error, usually that of the passenger car driver. When a motorcycle accident involves another vehicle, such as a passenger car, the consequences can be deadly.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Kentucky
Common causes of motorcycle accidents in Kentucky include:
Distracted and Inattentive Driving
Distracted drivers and drivers who do not look out for motorcycles frequently cause accidents. Distracted and inattentive car drivers put everyone at risk. Drivers might engage in personal grooming, put on or remove clothes, or eat while driving. When car drivers act so irresponsibly, they significantly reduce their response time. Moreover, these drivers impair their physical ability to maneuver the car to avoid obstacles. After all, they can’t grab the steering wheel if they are doing something else.
Drivers who fail to notice motorcycles, regardless of the reason, also cause accidents.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet cites inattentive motorcyclists as one of the leading driver-related factors of 2020 motorcycle accidents. In addition, inattentive passenger car drivers contribute to motorcycle accidents by failing to see or yield to a motorcycle when making a left turn.
Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association ranks Kentucky seventh in the nation for the highest year-to-year increase in impaired driving fatalities from 2019 to 2020. The 2020 drunk and impaired driving fatalities in the Bluegrass State represent a 31.8% increase from 2019.
In 2020, 199 people unnecessarily lost their lives because of drunk and impaired driving in Kentucky.
Driving while intoxicated decreases reaction time increases the driving risks taken, and impairs thinking. Motorcyclists who are under the influence of alcohol, substances, or prescription medication may not be able to properly operate the motorcycle. Being impaired obviously puts them at a higher risk of causing an accident or losing control of the vehicle. For drivers of cars and trucks, impaired driving limits their ability to look out and account for motorcyclists.
Driving While Tired
Tired or sleep-deprived drivers can experience profound impacts on reaction time. Sleep-deprived driving can have a similar overall effect on a driver as drugs or alcohol.
Speeding causes a tremendous number of unnecessary deaths each year. Drivers who are speeding create dangerous driving conditions for those around them. Additionally, speeding drivers experience reduced reaction time and decreased physical ability to stop the car in time to avoid a collision.
Failing to Share the Road
Widespread motorcycle education and courtesy are the antidotes for many motorcycle accidents in Kentucky. Despite the national “Share the Road” campaign, drivers still fail to give motorcyclists adequate space on the road. Practices include tailgating the motorcycle, not giving them a full lane width, or cutting them off.
Driving while experiencing road rage puts you and those around you at risk. No matter what vehicle you’re driving, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment. If you’ve had a long day at work and are just ready to be home, overreacting when someone cuts you off in traffic can lead to fatalities.
Likewise, passenger vehicles in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway may get mad when they see a motorcyclist weaving through cars (“lane filtering”). Next time they see that motorcycle, they may cut them off out of spite. Or they can end up making reckless driving decisions, hoping to shave a few minutes off their commute. Unfortunately, this type of driving behavior can cause collisions. And when the collision involves a motorcycle, the vulnerable motorcyclist has a higher chance of suffering severe injuries or death.
Kentucky Motorcycle Crash Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association provides grim statistics for motorcyclists across the nation. According to the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities occur 29 times more than in passenger cars per mile traveled. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s 2020 motorcycle accident statistics indicate that motorcycles accounted for less than 1% of the vehicles involved in collisions. Even so, motorcycles comprised 7% of all fatal collisions throughout Kentucky.
Kentucky Helmet Law and Motorcycle Fatalities
Sadly, 2019 data reveals that 74% of motorcyclists killed in a motorcycle accident in Kentucky were not wearing helmets. In 1998, the state repealed the blanket Kentucky helmet law. As it stands, the law requires that motorcyclists wear helmets only in certain situations. For example, those under the age of 21 who are driving a motorcycle must wear a helmet. All motorcyclists must wear eye protection, either by wearing a helmet or goggles.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Because of the exposed nature of the motorcycle, its drivers and passengers are extremely vulnerable to physical injuries. Common motorcycle accident injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injury
Without a sturdy metal frame to protect the driver or passenger, a motorcycle accident subjects motorcyclists to the full force of the collision. If the motorcyclist manages to survive, they will likely suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These may include:
- Coup-contrecoup injury, and
- Brain bleeds.
Motorcyclists wearing a helmet at the time of the crash significantly reduce their chances of suffering a severe TBI.
Broken and Fractured Bones
Motorcyclists are also at a greater risk of experiencing bone breaks and fractures because they don’t have a physical car frame to protect them. In its absence, clothing and bare skin is often an insufficient guard against physical injuries in a motorcycle accident.
As we talked about before, Kentucky motorcycle crash statistics are sobering. Despite motorcycles participating in 1% of all collisions, they comprise 7% of fatalities.
Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC—The Lawyer Kentucky Trusts
Practicing law for almost 20 years, Seth Gladstein is there for you and will fight tirelessly to defend you in a motorcycle accident case. Since 2011, our team at Gladstein Law Firm has devoted itself to holding negligent parties accountable. Clients describe us as their “royal flush” and consider hiring our firm a wise choice. Seth’s invaluable experience working on both sides of personal injury cases before opening Gladstein Law Firm gives him an edge from which his clients benefit. Call Seth today, or contact him online.