Sharing the Road with Motorcycles Requires Caution

New Jersey Route 12 in Hunterdon County.

New Jersey Route 12 in Hunterdon County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The warm weather sees an influx of motorcycles on the State’s roadways and, with that, a greater potential for serious traffic accidents. If you or someone you know is involved in a motorcycle accident, particularly in Hunterdon County, the personal injury lawyers at Ragland Law Firm of Lebanon, N.J., can help.

According to the Federal Highway Authority, New Jersey sees about 2,500 motorcycle accidents each year; of those, 70 or more are fatal. (1) Motorcyclists in New Jersey are subject to the same rules and regulations as other motorists, including speed limits, traffic signals and road warnings. (2)

Obviously, motorcycles offer drivers less protection than other types of motor vehicles and, because motorcyclists are more exposed, they face a 75% chance of being injured in the event of an accident. Statistics show over two-thirds of the accidents involving motorcycles and other motor vehicles are due to the other driver not seeing the motorcyclist. Motorists are cautioned to look twice since motorcycles can maneuver more quickly than cars. Motorcyclists, likewise, are urged to make themselves visible to other motorists and to adjust lane position so as not to hang in the other drivers’ blind spots. (1)

Not all motorcycle accidents involve other vehicles however. More than two-thirds of single vehicle motorcycle accidents can be attributed to speeding and 40% of those accidents occur while the motorcycle is turning or cornering. (1)

Alcohol and driving don’t mix regardless of the type of vehicle you are piloting. With motorcycles, the combination is even worse since alcohol adversely affects the two skills most needed for riding a motorcycle – coordination and balance. Because of this, the percentage of fatal motorcycle accidents that involve alcohol exceeds that of other types of accidents. (2)

The biggest contributor to motorcycle accidents, however, is inexperience. Statistics show that 90% of motorcyclists involved in crashes have not been formally trained. (1) New Jersey requires residents to have either a motorcycle endorsement on his or her driver’s license or a separate motorcycle license before operating a motorcycle within the State with the exception of low-speed motorcycles. A low-speed motorcycle is one with a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. (3)

In February 2011, New Jersey adopted a bill designed to make its roadways safer for its motorcyclists. Under this law, motorcyclists with licenses for lower-speed motorcycles are prohibited from driving larger-engine motorcycles and thus, riding beyond their level of skill. It also bans the lower-speed motorcycles from interstate highways and other public roads with speed limits in excess of 35 mph. Other conditions imposed by the law include requiring motorcyclists under 18 to take a motorcycle safety course, and prohibiting motorcycle permit holders from riding in the dark and on toll roads and limited access highways and from carrying passengers on their motorcycles. (4)

While safety regulations are in place to help improve conditions for motorcyclists on New Jersey roadways, the potential for accidents is still there. Whether you are a motorcyclist or an operator of another vehicle involved in an accident with a motorcycle, the personal injury attorneys at Ragland Law Firm can help. Call Ragland Law Firm today. Ragland Law Firm is based in Hunterdon County, NJ.

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