May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and Massachusetts has to observe with more caution this year.
The number of fatal motorcycle crashes rose across the state last year. So did the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents, even as traffic volumes fell statewide with COVID-19. State officials say drivers were speeding down open roads and when accidents happened, they were more likely to be fatal.
Statewide, the number of motor vehicle fatalities increased more than 2 percent, from 336 deaths in 2019 to 345 deaths in 2020, according to MassDOT Crash Data as of May 10, 2021. While there were fewer pedestrian fatalities, the state saw a notable increase in both motorcycle and bike accident fatalities. Motorcycle fatalities increased 20 percent, from 48 fatalities in 2019 (including 46 motorcycle operators and 2 passengers) to 58 motorcycle fatalities last year (55 motorcyclists and 3 passengers). MassDOT also reported 10 fatal bicycle crashes last year, a 100 percent increase over 2019.
Because drivers traveled fewer miles last year, the traffic fatality rate climbed much more than the actual numbers across the country. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we encourage drivers to refocus and work to travel safely near motorcyclists. We share these safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
Motorcycle Safety Tips for Massachusetts Drivers
Motorcyclists Have the Same Rights. Drivers must share the road with motorcyclists. Motorcyclists have the right to travel in the traffic lane and even pass your vehicle, when it is safe to do so. They also have to obey the same traffic signs and signals. You can reduce the risk of causing a motorcycle accident by giving riders extra room and slowing down on your approach.
Recognize a Motorcycle’s Size. Appreciate the difference between a motorcycle and a motor vehicle. Motorcycles may weigh several hundred pounds. An SUV may weigh in at 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. Commercial vehicles carry many times this.
Use Your Mirrors and Look for Motorcyclists. Use your mirrors when you drive. Assume you will be sharing the road with motorcyclists, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.
Use Your Turn Signals. Activate your turn signal early enough so motorcyclists know you intend to turn.
Never Trust Motorcycle Blinkers. On the other hand, never trust a motorcyclist’s blinkers. Motorcycles may not have self-canceling turn signals. If a motorcyclist forgets to turn their signal off, it may continue blinking. When you approach an intersection and come up behind a motorcyclist, wait until you are certain of their plans to avoid causing a motorcycle turn collision.
Commit Not to Pick Up Your Cell Phone. By committing to this, you are in a better position to safely respond to motorcyclists and other traffic.
Safety Tips for Massachusetts Motorcyclists
If you are a motorcyclist, May is a good time to check in on safety fundamentals.
Check Your Helmet. The best way to protect yourself is to wear a motorcycle helmet. The NHTSA offers tips for choosing a motorcycle helmet.
Review Your Auto Insurance. Take a moment to review your auto insurance policy. Another driver may be responsible for your injuries. But the reality is many drivers operate illegally without auto insurance or only purchase the state’s minimum coverage requirements. It is important for you to consider this as you purchase auto insurance. Ask your auto insurance agent for help and read our article on optional auto insurance coverages for Massachusetts motorcyclists.
Sign Up for Motorcycle Training. The Registry of Motor Vehicles offers the Massachusetts Rider Education Program at motorcycle schools across the state. Training classes are designed for all skill levels. At training classes, you have the opportunity to learn and sharpen your skills. You may also qualify for a discount on your auto insurance, savings you can use to buy more coverage.
What to Do If You Are Injured in A Motorcycle Crash
When a driver hits a motorcyclist, victims usually suffer serious and life-threatening injuries. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we understand a motorcycle crash is devastating and emotional. The motorcyclist, along with their family members, needs guidance from an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. We have the experience you need at Breakstone, White & Gluck. Read about our past results for clients in motorcycle accident cases.
Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck for a free legal consultation to learn your rights. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case with you and explain if you have a potential claim against another driver. If you have been injured by a commercial truck, it is even more important to contact an experienced lawyer to oversee the full investigation from the start.