Motorcycle Accidents In Louisiana: What You Need To Know.

by: Sonja Bradley

South Louisiana has a high amount of motorcycle accidents. Are the accident caused by road conditions, unsafe drivers, or is that motorcycles are inherently dangerous?

The rate of automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents are about the same. However, people involved in motorcycle accidents die or sustain severe injuries at a significantly higher rate than people in car accidents.

Motorcycle riders like the freedom of the road, but it the pleasure worth the risks? Compared to cars, motorcycles make up a small percentage of road travel, is this because of the perceived dangers of motorcycle accidents? There is a lot of concerning information about motorcycle riding in the United States.

Is Riding a Motorcycle Dangerous?

It goes without argument that motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), provides that motorcycles made up only 3 percent of vehicles registered in the United States in 2017.

However, the fatality rate for motorcyclists in 2017 was six times the death rate for passengers of cars. Fatalities on motorcyclist occurred nearly 27 times more frequently than passengers in cars in traffic crashes.

A look at 2017 numbers shows there were 5,172 motorcyclists killed, a three percent decrease from the previous year. Let’s look at some of the key findings in the NHTSA report:

  • Twenty-nine percent of motorcycle fatality crashes in 2017 were riding without valid motorcycle licenses;
  • Impaired drivers by vehicle type (27% for motorcycles, 21% for passenger cars, 20% for light trucks, and 3% for large trucks);
  • Forty-three percent of motorcycle riders who lost their lives in single-vehicle crashes in 2017 were alcohol-impaired
  • Motorcycle riders killed in crashes at night were three times more frequently alcohol-impaired than those killed during the day in 2017
  • NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more people could’ve have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
  • In States without universal helmet laws, 57 percent of motorcyclists killed in 2017 weren’t wearing helmets and only eight percent in States with universal helmet laws

These numbers illustrate the dangers of riding motorcycles on the road. I encourage you to check the NHTSA website to view the most current numbers.

What is the Most Common Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?

Cars have to share the road with motorcycles. However, they frequently seem to forget, but there are many causes by motorcycle drivers that could be prevented. The following is a list of some causes of motorcycle accidents:

  • Speeding: Speeding is dangerous in any vehicle, but more so on a motorcycle. Speed limits establish a safe rate of travel on a particular roadway. It takes into consideration reaction times, curves, and general road conditions. Death in a crash is more likely to occur at a higher rate of speed;
  • Driving under the influence. The number of fatal motorcycle crashes illustrated in the NHTSA numbers proves that motorcycle drivers influenced by drugs or alcohol are at increased risk of an accident;
  • Lane splitting is the maneuvering of a motorcycle between vehicles on a roadway. Lane splitting causes a substantial amount of accidents, cars are often not aware of a motorcycle and will unexpectedly shift lanes hitting the bike;
  • Sudden stops: A vehicle that stops quickly creates a dangerous condition. Tailgating results in rear-end accidents. When riding a motorcycle, always follow a safe distance behind traffic. A sudden stop could result in severe injury or death to a motorcyclist;
  • Inexperienced drivers:  Inexperienced motorcyclists likely are also unsafe drivers. They lack the experience to avoid wrecks and create dangerous conditions not only to themselves but other motorists as well;
  • Left-turn accidents: Misjudgments of distance while making a left turn are causes of injury and death to motorcycle riders.
  • Dangerous road conditions: Driving a motorcycle on broken concrete or roads with potholes, and debris, causes bikers to lose control of their motorcycle and crash;
  • Motorcycle defects: Motorcycle manufacturer just like with any other product sometimes have a poor design or faulty part which creates a condition that leads to an accident.

If You Ride Reduce the Risks of an Accident.

The first thing you should realize when riding a motorcycle, you are in a vulnerable position, so be alert and be visible. Some other steps you can take are:

  • Wear a helmet: Helmets save lives. NHTSA estimates helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more lives would’ve been saved if all motorcyclists wore helmets. Nineteen states require motorcyclists to wear helmets, while three states-Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire-have no helmet use laws at all.
  • Older riders: If you are over 40, you may need to consider getting off your motorcycle. Motorcycling requires more brain function and focus than driving a car. 54% of motorcyclists killed in crashes were age 40 or older, and older riders sustain more severe injuries from accidents. Why does this occur? It could be declining vision and reduced reaction time in older riders or fragility.
  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS): Anti-lock brakes provide a better and safer stop for a motorcycle. Motorcycles with ABS are 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
  • Avoid cafe-style racing motorcycles: Cafe-style motorcycles require unique skill sets and can go fast. Motorcyclists on cafe-style bikes are four times more likely to die in a crash than riders of other styles of motorcycles.
  • Training: Most states offer motorcycle safety classes. The classes teach how to maneuver a motorcycle in different weather conditions and during specific traffic conditions.
  • Clothing: Wear protective clothing that is visible. Leather helps to prevent road rash. The brighter you are, the easier for others to see you.

Louisiana State Police Motorcycle Safety Program

Louisiana has an unusually high motorcycle accident rate. The high instances of wrecks could be caused by several reasons, poor road conditions, inattentive drivers, or lack of motorcycle driver training. The state police are taking steps to reduce motorcycle accidents.

The Louisiana State Police established a program designed to save motorcyclist lives. It is the Louisiana Motorcycle Safety, Awareness and Operator Training Program.

The basic course is 15 hours and its designed for beginners. It teaches the physical skills, proper attitude, and knowledge for navigating safely in traffic. It is an excellent program if you are interested or want more information click the link above to register.

Do I Need A Motorcycle Lawyer?

If you or someone you know has been in a motorcycle accident, you need to contact an attorney. Injured parties are entitled to recover for their losses, pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages they suffered.

One of the risks you shouldn’t face is going without the compensation you are owed. Sonja Bradley has offices in Hammond and Livingston Louisiana

To read about “Important Steps to Take if You’ve Neen in a Car Accident,” or learn about “Negligence Law in Louisiana,” click the highlighted links.

Sonja Bradley J.D., Sonja received her undergraduate degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University School of Law. Sonja is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the 21st JDC Bar Association. She has 21 years of legal experience.