Five months from the outset of COVID-19, many motorcyclists are just getting back on Massachusetts roads. Yet already, we have seen several serious and fatal motorcycle accidents in the Boston area, Cape Cod and across the state, a reminder that riders need a little extra room for safety.
In recent weeks, motorcycle accidents have been reported in North Adams, Westfield, Springfield, Wrentham, Taunton, Dudley, Milton, Randolph and Lynn. Toward Cape Cod, motorcyclists have been injured in Bourne, Hyannis, Lakeville, Randolph and Bridgewater.
All these accidents, coming as the state of Massachusetts re-opens, show the need to emphasize motorcycle safety. Motorcyclists have a responsibility to follow traffic laws and wear helmets and protective clothing. In turn, drivers must pay attention to how close they are to motorcyclists and watch when turning or changing lanes.
Commit to drive safely. Obey speed limits and follow traffic laws to reduce your risk of car accidents and motorcycle collisions. Right now, traffic is unpredictable and schedules are less important. After days of little traffic, you may see several hours of cars and trucks speeding. Some vehicles are really racing because there are open roads, very light traffic.
First, take a good look at a motorcycle. Motorcyclists operate on two wheels, without the protection of a windshield and a car or truck frame. Because of this, motorcyclists are more likely to be injured should there be a collision on the road. Large trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road. They can hit motorcyclists, then drag them under the carriage. Truck accidents injuring motorcyclists are most likely to be fatal. But motorcyclists are highly vulnerable to any unexpected movement, making it important to give them room.
Raise Your Awareness About Motorcycle Accidents
Fatal motorcycle crashes. Motorcyclists are much more susceptible to crashes than other drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists account for 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S. and just .6 percent of all vehicle miles traveled. Yet, per vehicle, motorcyclists have 6 times the fatality rate as other drivers.
Follow motorcycles at a distance. If you are driving behind a motorcycle, give the driver additional space. More than you would provide any other vehicle. Recognize that drivers are more likely to be involved in a motorcycle accident when making a left turn in front of a motorcyclist.
Never try to anticipate the motorcyclist’s next turn so you can get moving again. Likewise, do not trust the motorcyclist’s blinker. It may not have fully cancelled out after a prior turn or lane change. You just have to be patient.
Broadside collision. When a driver collides with the side of a motorcycle at a high speed, they can seriously injure the motorcyclist. These are also known as T-bone accidents or side impact motorcycle crashes.
Blindspots and mirrors. Use your mirrors as a guide to help you see the motorcyclist. But remember, motorcyclists can be in your blind spot. Even when you see them, you may not understand how far they are actually away from your vehicle. This is another reason to slow down and give riders more space.
Poor visibility. Respect hazardous weather conditions. Be aware that you may have to really look for motorcyclists, slow down and give all motor vehicles more distance.
Road hazards. Give motorcyclists additional time and space when the road surfaces change. For example, aging roads with potholes, construction work zones and railroad tracks.
Obstructed views. Many motorcycle crashes happen because drivers neglect to look. They may be busy or distracted as they back out of a parking lot or approach a turn. Other times, drivers make bad decisions because of obstructed views. They make the decision to turn or go when they don’t have a full view of the road, parking lot, rotary or intersection. There may be a truck blocking their view from behind or an SUV next to them at a traffic light. Make sure you can see the entire road and continually check your side and rearview mirrors to help you see around large trucks.
Safe driving behaviors. We have now reached August, the last month of summer. Enjoy your time, but please use good judgment. We urge you not to operate a motor vehicle or motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol. Drunk driving, distracted driving and operating while fatigued are highly dangerous. Use caution driving at night, just as you would during the day. You may not realize just how many pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists are out this year.
Motorcycle Safety Resources
Finally, if you are a Massachusetts motorcyclist, remember your responsibilities and the resources you have to protect yourself. Under Massachusetts law, motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet when riding to protect themselves from head injuries. Wearing a helmet, along with the right safety gear, is fundamental to protecting yourself. The state of Massachusetts also offers the Motorcycle Ridership Education Program, which offers training for beginning and advanced riders.
Purchasing the right types and amount of auto insurance is also critical for motorcyclists. Read our article, “Massachusetts Motorcyclists: Buy the Right Types of Auto Insurance to Protect Yourself and Your Finances.”
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Motorcycle Crash Lawyers
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston motorcycle accident lawyers represent those who have been injured by negligent or reckless driving. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys have won several major awards for motorcyclists.
For a free legal consultation, call Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
By now, many Massachusetts motorcyclists are ready for warmer days ahead. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys represent motorcyclists who have been injured and we are committed to sharing safety tips to protect from motorcycle accidents and injuries.
Whether you ride in Boston, Cape Cod or Central Massachusetts, here are a few essential steps:
Massachusetts Rider Education Program
This is a great starting point for new motorcyclists. Attendance is worthwhile because you have to opportunity to learn from more experienced motorcyclists and meet others looking to learn. You may also be able to fulfill your licensing requirements here. When you are finished, take your certificate of completion right to your auto insurance agent and ask for an insurance discount.
More experienced motorcyclists will also find something here, whether they seek new skills or want to review fundamentals to avoid motorcycle crash situations.
Sponsored by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, the program offers 15 hours of course material, includes five hours in the classroom and 10 hours of hands-on motorcycle instruction. Motorcyclists under age 18 must complete the training before taking the Massachusetts Motorcycle License test.
The best way to begin is by visiting the Massachusetts Ridership Education Program website. You must sign up for an approved motorcycle training program to qualify for the insurance discount. Programs are offered throughout the state, in Ayer, Bedford, Beverly, Brockton, Foxborough, Framingham and other communities.
Massachusetts Auto Insurance for Motorcyclists
No one ever expects to be injured in a motorcycle crash. But it can happen and you want to make sure you and your family are protected. Start by learning about your Massachusetts auto insurance policy.
While auto insurance coverage for motorcyclists and drivers is similar, there is a key difference in Massachusetts. Unlike drivers, motorcyclists do not receive PIP (personal injury protection) benefits. PIP benefits provide the first $8,000 of medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses for a driver who is injured. The loss of these benefits creates another obstacle for motorcyclists after a crash.
Because motorcyclists do not have access to PIP, our attorneys recommend they purchase other coverages to make up for this, including Medical Payments, Uninsured Auto and Underinsured Coverage and Bodily Injury Coverage. To help you get started, our Boston motorcycle accident attorneys have written this article, “Massachusetts Motorcyclists: Buy the Right Types of Auto Insurance to Protect Yourself and Your Finances.”
We encourage you to read the article and show it to your insurance agent. Talk to other motorcyclists about their experiences buying insurance coverage. In addition to providing compensation if you are injured, buying the right types and amounts of coverage can bring you peace of mind now as you get ready to ride this season.
Motorcycle Helmet and Eye Protection
Massachusetts has had a mandatory helmet law since 1967 and is one of 28 states which currently require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Massachusetts has a “universal law,” which requires both motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets. The statute is M.G.L. c. 90, Section 7. Riders can be fined up to $100 for failure to wear a helmet.
Helmets must meet the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 2018. You will see a label with this number on the inside and outside of the helmet. Along with the helmet, motorcyclists must wear goggles or a protective face shield. This is not a requirement if the motorcycle has a windshield or screen.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston and Worcester Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm which represents motorcyclists who have been injured in Massachusetts. With over 100 years combined experience, our lawyers are recognized for our results for clients across the state, from Boston to Worcester to Cape Cod. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. Our attorneys offer a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
Motorcycle season is almost here. For riders, this means goodbye snow and cold; hello to the open road.
Good pre-season preparation is essential for motorcyclists. Take some time to inspect your motorcycle and helmet and review the Massachusetts driving manual. Review your auto insurance as well; most drivers and motorcyclists do not carry enough insurance.
Wear a Helmet. Under Massachusetts law, motorcyclists must wear helmets which have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Helmets save lives so make sure yours is in good condition. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident or fall, replace your helmet.
Clothing and Gear. Select the appropriate clothing and gloves for driving conditions.
Licensing and Insurance. Class M licenses are required for Massachusetts motorcyclists. Anyone who is 16 or older may take the Class M exam, unless the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has taken away your right to operate.
Once you pass the exam, you must obtain auto insurance for your motorcycle. It pays to do your homework here. Under the law, Massachusetts motorcyclists are only required to purchase compulsory insurance. But you can and should also purchase optional coverage for more protection.
We encourage you to ask your insurance agent about insurance laws for motorcycles and about coverage for accidents involving underinsured and uninsured drivers. If you are ever injured and the driver responsible does not have adequate insurance, you may have to look to your own insurance policy to fill in the gap and pay some of your medical bills and other compensation.
Insurance companies do not provide for Personal Injury Protection (no-fault benefits) on motorcycle policies. We strongly recommend that you purchase Medical Payments coverage. That coverage will provide insurance for you and your passenger in the event of an accident.
Follow the Rules of the Road. Massachusetts motorcyclists must follow the same rules as other drivers, but there are some differences. If you have questions, you can quickly check the Massachusetts Motorcycle Manual online.
Defensive Driving. One topic covered in the manual is defensive driving. Commit to keeping a safe distance between you and other vehicles on the roads to avoid a motorcycle accident.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
- Nearly 5,000 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2015, up 8 percent from 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2015, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured.
- Motorcycle deaths occurred 27 times more frequently than other fatalities on the road, according to NHTSA figures.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston have over 100 years combined experience representing motorcyclists who have been seriously injured by the negligence of drivers. Our attorneys have recently negotiated settlements of $3.75 million, $3.5 million and $1.25 million for injured motorcyclists. Read more about our motorcycle accident case results.
Attorney Ronald E. Gluck recently reached a $1.25 million dollar settlement in a case involving serious injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident which occurred in Massachusetts.
Attorney Gluck, who has successfully represented seriously injured motorcyclists for over thirty five years, obtained the full insurance liability policy limits for our client from the defendant’s insurance company.
The motorcycle accident occurred when the offending driver of a sedan made a sudden left turn in front of our client’s motorcycle, cutting off his path of travel and leaving him no room to stop. As a result he crashed into the side of the sedan, and suffered life altering injuries.
Our client, who was obeying traffic laws and was wearing proper motorcycle clothing, suffered severe injuries, including multiple fractures of his pelvis, fractures of his lower leg and an injury to his peroneal nerve which caused significant foot drop. During surgery to repair the fractures, he suffered a complication resulting in major loss of blood among other injuries. Doctors used heroic measures to stop the bleeding and save his life.
The client was hospitalized for weeks and required extensive post hospitalization inpatient rehabilitation. Due to his injuries he was unable to work for several months. When he returned to his employment as an executive at a national company, he remained on crutches and then a cane for several more months. Long distance travel was a struggle for an extended period of time.
The injury to our client’s peroneal nerve remains a lasting injury and he is required to wear a brace in his shoe to enable him to walk steadily on many surfaces. He is also unable to participate in activities such as golf and basketball as he had in the past.
This case was reported in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on December 1, 2016.
Our Experience: Previous Motorcycle Accident Settlements
Attorney Gluck has extensive experience representing motorcyclists. His experience includes a $3.75 million settlement for an injured motorcyclist in 2012, which was reported as among the state’s largest verdicts and settlements that year by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
In that case, the motorcyclist was critically injured when a Lexus cut into his traffic lane, causing the rider to slam into the vehicle. The motorcyclist suffered major facial fractures, a concussion, blindness in one eye and orthopedic injuries.
The client was rendered unable to work as a result of his injuries. The proof of his loss of earning capacity by use of expert testimony was critical to Attorney Gluck’s successful resolution of the case for $3.75 million. The loss of earning capacity amount claimed by our client was disputed by the insurance company’s expert, but was proven to be accurate. The case was settled at the end of an all-day mediation, which took place two weeks before the scheduled trial date.
Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by negligence in auto accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents and motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle accidents are not the same as other traffic accidents and if you have been injured, it is important to find an attorney who has specific experience obtaining compensation for motorcyclists.
About Attorney Ronald E. Gluck
Ronald E. Gluck is a Boston personal injury attorney who has been practicing law for over 35 years and has obtained multi-million dollar awards for individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries and damages from acts of negligence. Attorney Gluck has been consistently recognized as one of the top lawyers in the state and has been selected to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list each year since 2005. Read more about Attorney Gluck.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience handling motor vehicle accident cases resulting in serious personal injury or wrongful death. If you have been injured, it is important to learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Before June begins, we have a final thought for May, which was Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
Motorcycle use continues to grow in the U.S. but so do motorcycle accidents. For 15 years now, we have seen an annual increase in motorcyclist fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The one exception was 2009. When motorcyclists survive, they are also suffering more non-fatal injuries. In 2012, 93,000 motorcycling injuries were reported, 12,000 more injuries than in 2011.
A few safety reminders for drivers:
- Remember motorcyclists have all the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as other motorists.
- Allow motorcyclists a full lane width.
- Give motorcyclists extra following distance when you are behind them.
- Before you switch lanes, always check your vehicle’s mirrors and your blind spot for motorcyclists.
- Make sure you signal your intention to change lanes or merge with traffic.
- Do not rely on a motorcyclist’s flashing turn signal. The rider may have forgotten to turn it off or it may not be self-cancelling.
A few safety reminders for motorcyclists:
- Remember to wear your helmet and do not let any passengers ride without one. In 2012, overall motorcycle helmet use fell to 60 percent. Passenger helmet use dropped to 46 percent.
- Wear reflective tape whenever possible.
- Do not consume alcohol when you are operating.
- Obey traffic laws. You must have a special license to operate a motorcycle in Massachusetts and that is important. Some 24 percent of all riders who are involved in fatal motorcycle crashes are operating with invalid licenses.
Our Experience Representing Injured Riders
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience handling automobile and motorcycle accident cases.
Read about one case attorney Ronald Gluck handled for an injured motorcyclist. Gluck’s client was seriously injured when a negligent driver cut into his lane and struck his motorcycle. He suffered numerous injuries, including facial fractures, concussions, blindness in one eye and a shoulder injury and had to undergo surgeries. Gluck negotiated a $3.75 million settlement.
May has arrived and as motorcycling season begins, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is observing Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
The national initiative aims to encourage drivers and motorcyclists to “share the road” and highlights that motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any other motor vehicle on the road.
This is an important point because most motorcycle accidents involve passenger vehicles and trucks. Many motorcycle accidents result from a lack of understanding and awareness on the part of both or either party. Many times, drivers will say they fail to see motorcyclists until just before an accident.
In 2009, motorcyclists were 25 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a crash, according to the NHTSA. Motorcyclists were five times more likely to be injured based on miles traveled.
But motorcyclists can take a number of safety steps to protect themselves on the road. The Boston motorcycle accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck share a few motorcycle safety tips:
Wear a Helmet. Wearing a helmet is the best way to protect yourself from serious head injury. An unhelmeted motorcyclist is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a motorcycle crash than one wearing a helmet, according to the NHTSA. Massachusetts is one of 19 states which require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. State law also requires all scooter and “low-power” riders to wear helmets.
Select a full-face helmet for the best protection. An open-faced helmet provides the next highest level of safety.
To select the right helmet, look for one which meets Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. All adult helmets are required to meet this standard and it will be clearly labeled on the helmet. The Snell Memorial Foundation is another well-respected testing organization to seek out, but helmet manufacturers are not required to meet its standards.
Take a Safety Class. Take an annual class on motorcycling safety to learn important techniques such as splitting lanes and how to handle road conditions such as uneven pavement and railroad tracks.
Wear Brightly Colored Clothing. Your goal is to make yourself as visible as possible to drivers during the day as well as night. Consider bright colors for your clothing and helmet.
Look in the Car’s Side View Mirrors. On the road, your best position is to be able to see the driver’s eyes in the side view mirror. If you cannot, you are in the vehicle’s blind spot, meaning the driver cannot see you in the mirror when he makes a driving decision.
Splitting Lanes. This is when a motorcycle moves in between two vehicles in separate lanes. Make sure you have the experience to make this move and make sure drivers around you are alert.
Avoid Riding in Inclement Weather. The risk for injuries increase in the rain and other bad weather conditions.
- Motorcycles, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- 7 Tips for Motorcycle Safety, Massachusetts Department of Transportation
- Motorcycle and Bicycle Helmet Use Laws, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
- Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month Reminds Drivers, Riders to Share the Road, Consumer Reports
The Boston motorcycle accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 80 years combined experience handling motor vehicle and motorcycle accident cases in Massachusetts. If you have been injured, it is important to learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.