Report finds motorcycle fatalities on the rise, NHTSA offers tips for riders

Motorcycles are fun and efficient, but they can also be dangerous. Some tips can reduce the risk of the accident. Other tips can help if injured due to another's negligence.

Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling experience. But this form of transportation is more than just fun, it is efficient. Motorcycles generally have better gas mileage than passenger vehicles and can often cost less to maintain. Part of the reason behind these efficiencies is the small size of these vehicles. Even large motorcycles are smaller than most cars. Although this smaller size serves to benefit the motorcycle and the rider in many ways, it also comes with risks.

Riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than riding in a car. Motorcycles do not protect the rider the same way a car protects a driver and the smaller size makes it more difficult for drivers to see and accurately gauge the speed of motorcycles. As a result, cars may misjudge how fast an oncoming motorcycle is coming and turn left directly into the path of the motorcycle. This can result in a tragic crash that the motorcycle rider could do little to avoid.

How common are motorcycle accidents? Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are not uncommon. A recent report by the Insurance Information Institute analyzed the most recent data available, finding that there were 4,976 deaths due to motorcycle accidents in 2015. This marks an 8.3 percent increase from the previous year, when 4,594 people died due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash.

What can motorcyclists do to decrease the risk of an accident? Riders can take two courses of action to help reduce the risk of a crash. First, they can educate car drivers. The "watch for motorcycles" bumper stickers are popular because they are true. Encouraging drivers to simply be aware of the fact that motorcycles are sharing the roads can help. If possible, discuss the fact that motorcycles can cause a bit of an optical illusion to drivers of passenger vehicles. The bike may seem further away than it is, and that drivers should give extra space when making left hand turns that cause the vehicle to turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle.

Second, riders can take proactive steps to protect themselves. Two tips offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) include wearing proper protection and riding responsibly. It may seem like common sense, but wearing a helmet and riding within the speed limit can greatly reduce the risk of a crash.

What if I am in a motorcycle crash? Unfortunately, even responsible riders can find themselves the victims of a motorcycle accident. If the accident was the fault of another vehicle, the rider may be able to hold that driver accountable for the accident. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options. If eligible, a personal injury lawsuit can result in a monetary award to help cover the costs that resulted from the accident.