Summer Proves a Dangerous Season for Motorcyclists

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The coming of summer brings motorcyclists back onto Washington roads in large numbers, but the season can be especially hazardous for riders that have grown rusty since their last trip. In a bid to potentially reduce the number of crashes this year, the Bernard Law Group has compiled a variety of safety tips for motorcyclists.

Visibility is poor, protection is minimal, and other drivers still tend to exhibit a certain prejudice toward riders. These sad truths often undermine even the most safety-conscious of individuals.

Rainy skies make way for warmer temperatures in Washington and many other parts of the country come summer. Motorcyclists, intent on getting back aboard their bike as soon as possible, will flock to the streets to take advantage of the beautiful weather.

But the summer also poses certain safety risks that aren’t necessarily apparent at other times of the year. For one thing, motorcyclists tend to overestimate their own skills after being off the road for months. And drivers, accustomed to having the roads to themselves, may not give motorcyclists the attention they deserve.

The Bernard Law Group is concerned that these circumstances will contribute to an uptick in motorcycle accidents in the state of Washington over the next few months. For more than three decades, Kirk Bernard has seen firsthand the repercussions of such accidents, and he’s dedicated his life not only to assisting victims of motorcycle crashes, but to making sure such incidents never occur in the first place.

“Motorcyclists have the deck stacked against them from the start,” said Mr. Bernard. “Visibility is poor, protection is minimal, and other drivers still tend to exhibit a certain prejudice toward riders. These sad truths often undermine even the most safety-conscious of individuals.”

That’s not to say that riding a motorcycle is a daredevil’s pastime. Far from it. The market share of motorcycles has now grown to encompass numerous demographics, with men and women of all ages and backgrounds riding. A recent report from the Insurance Information Institute indicates that the number of registered motorcycles continues to rise, from 8 million in 2009 to 8.2 million in 2010, a number that may very well have risen further in the three years since.

With so many people riding motorcycles at any given moment, it’s important that riders take the proper precautions. To that end, Bernard Law urges all motorcyclists to consider some of the following:

•Training- This doesn’t just apply to first-time riders. Every year, safety-conscious riders should submit to a training course supported by the Department of Motor Vehicles and/or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Such education can help riders perfect advanced riding techniques and keep abreast of the latest advancements in motorcycle safety. Riders may also sharpen their skills on their own in a safe environment whenever they go months without riding or they purchase a new, unfamiliar bike.

•Equipment: In Washington, the law states that all motorcyclists must wear a helmet. Riders should choose a unit that fits their riding style and has received the approval of the Department of Transportation. In addition to helmets, riders should also invest in protective leathers, gloves, and boots. In the event of an accident, such gear can reduce the threat of road rash, a condition wherein the skin is literally stripped away from a person’s body.

•Visibility: If drivers can’t see you, it’s impossible for them to react to your presence. Even when riding during the day, motorcyclists would be wise to turn on their headlights. Riders can also elect to wear brightly-colored clothing that further signals their position on the road.

•Lane Changes: Motorcyclists should always make their intentions known to other drivers and respect the space of automobiles. Learn to identify the blind spots of other vehicles so that you can avoid them, and refrain from the practice known as lane-splitting. Traveling between two lanes of stopped cars leaves you with little to no options when an inattentive driver makes an ill-timed lane change.

•Weather: If windy or rainy conditions imperil the roads, consider alternate means of transportation. Rain in particular poses a significant danger, as it makes the roads slick and further decreases visibility.

•Adherence To The Law: Motorcyclists, like any other drivers, should follow posted speed limits, acknowledge the directives of road signage, and refrain from alcohol consumption prior to riding. Even passengers you transport should be sober.

Following these steps can dramatically improve not only your safety, but the safety of all those you share the road with. And to protect yourself during those times when all the precautions in the world still can’t prevent a crash from taking place, have motorcycle insurance in place and be ready to consult with a Washington motorcycle accident attorney so that you’re protected from financial harm.

Kirk Bernard has been protecting the rights of personal injury victims, including motorcyclists, for 30 years. In addition to motorcycle accident victims, the Bernard Law Group provides legal representation for those injured in automobile collisions, workplace accidents, medical malpractice situations, defective drug incidents, and product liability cases. Bernard Law offers free consultations to those who believe they have a case.

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Megan Castello
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