Staying safe as Minnesota’s motorcycle season begins

Both drivers and motorcyclists should work together to prevent accidents from occurring.

The winter of 2013-2014 was a particularly harsh one for those in Minnesota. After enduring several consecutive months of below-freezing temperatures, many motorcycle owners are aching to get their bikes back on the road. With the recent good weather, motorists may have noticed a glut of motorcycle riders on the road as a result.

Unfortunately, the opening of motorcycle season has already brought tragedy. Recently, a car driven by a 19-year-old ran a stop sign and struck a motorcycle at an intersection in Otsego. As a result of the motorcycle accident, a 60-year-old motorcyclist died. Additionally, a passenger on the motorcycle was hospitalized for injuries.

Sadly, accidents such as this between a motorcycle and a car that were caused by carelessness are common. According to a 2013 study that was conducted in Florida, more often than not, the car’s driver, not the motorcyclist, is to blame for the accident. Having researched 10 years of motorcycle accidents within Florida, the study concluded that motorists were responsible for 60 percent of the accidents with motorcycles in the state.

Preventing accidents

Although the study was conducted in Florida, it can also be said that numerous motorcycle accidents in Minnesota are caused because of driver error. Because of this, it is important for motorists to take some precautions to minimize the risk to motorcyclists as the warm weather season begins. These precautions include:

  • Checking blind spots at least twice before changing lanes
  • Keeping at least a four-second distance between the car and the motorcycle
  • Staying focused on the road by removing distractions (e.g. cellphones)
  • Using turn signals to alert motorcyclists to your intentions

In addition to motorists, motorcyclists should work to enhance their own safety by making themselves as visible as possible to motorists. One way to do this is by wearing brightly colored clothing, instead of black leather. Additionally, motorcyclists can protect themselves from the serious injuries than can accompany an accident by wearing a helmet (as required by Minnesota law), boots, gloves and other protective gear.

What to do if injured

Safety on the road requires both the driver and motorcyclist to work together. Unfortunately, this does not always occur. Although true “accidents” can occur, in many cases, driver negligence, such as texting while driving, driving drunk or failing to yield the right of way, can be the cause. In such cases, the motorcyclist can potentially hold the responsible driver liable for medical bills, lost wages, costs of long-term care and other expenses incurred because of the accident.

If you have been injured by a careless driver while riding your motorcycle, it is advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal options.

Keywords: motorcycle accidents