Stay Safe this Riding Season with the tips, stats, and suggestions below:
It is the middle of March and bikers across Massachusetts are getting excited and ready for another great riding season. This is the time to get your bike cleaned up, your fluids changed and topped off, tires and brakes checked and plan for some beautiful rides. It's also the time to reacquaint yourself with the realities of riding in the Boston area and the safety precautions that you need to take seriously to avoid serious injuries or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 80% of all reported motorcycle collisions result in injury or death to the rider.
Here is what you'll find below:
a) a few motorcycle statistics that you as a rider might find informative;
b) the top 10 causes of motorcycle accidents;
c) a summary of the law relating to motorcycle use in Massachusetts;
d) a list of the 5 most dangerous cities in Massachusetts to ride; and
d) common sense ways to reduce your chances of being injured or killed on the roads.
In 2017 there were 168,931 registered motorcycles in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 2016 there were 2017 accidents resulting in 1635 injuries and 42 deaths in Massachusetts. In 2018 80% of all motor vehicle accidents resulted in serious injuries or death. Unfortunately, in 2018 59 riders and passengers were killed in Massachusetts crashes, with 24 of those being under the age of 29. Of those killed in 2018, 6 were not wearing a helmet. A study done by the NHTSA estimated that in 2017 29 lives were saved in Massachusetts by the use of a helmet. In fact, nationally, NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017 alone and that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 749 lives could have been saved. Imagine that? 749 additional lives saved! 749 families spared the grief of losing a loved one! Wear your helmet!!!!
In another staggering statistic, 30% of all motorcycle crashes, alcohol impairment was a contributing factor. In 2017, motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were found to have the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers than any other vehicle types (27% for motorcycles, 21% for passenger cars, 20% for light trucks, and 3% for large trucks). Forty-three percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2017 were alcohol impaired Riding a motorcycle increases your risk of death on the road by 36% over drivers of other types of vehicles. The good news is that 90% of Massachusetts motorcycle riders wear helmets which far outpaces the national average of 71%. Massachusetts is one of only 20 states that requires a rider to wear a helmet.
Top 10 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in the Boston Area
Recent statistics have shown that the following are the top ten contributing causes of motorcycle accidents.
1) Car doors. Both bicyclists and motorcyclist are in danger when people open their car doors without looking. As a result, extra vigilance is required when riding, especially in the city.
2) Unsafe lane changes. Given a bike’s small size, riders are often in the blind spot of other vehicles and lane changing can be dangerous.
3) Speeding. No elaboration needed here, keep your speed down.
4) Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Forty-three percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2017 were alcohol impaired.
5) Sudden stops. Rear-end accidents resulting from following too closely or an abrupt stop can result in serious injury or death to a motorcyclist
6) Driver inexperience. 29% percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were riding without valid motorcycle licenses. Know how to ride and get properly licensed. Practice, practice, practice!!!
7) Road hazards. We all know Boston roads are perfect right? They can be horrible!! Crumbling pavement, potholes, debris, and a lack of necessary signals and signs can all increase a motorcycle rider’s chances of losing control of his or her vehicle.
8) Motorcycle defects. Make sure your mechanical systems are working properly
9) Lane splitting. Driving between two lanes of traffic is called “lane splitting.” This practice is not legal in Massachusetts and is especially dangerous for inexperienced riders.
10) Left turn accidents. Right of way errors or misjudgments of distance while making a left turn are common causes of injury and death to motorcycle riders.
Massachusetts Laws Relating to Motorcycle Use
Helmets Are Required for All Operators and Passengers
M.G.L. c. 90 § 7, requires all riders and passengers to wear a helmet. Massachusetts, 18 other states and Washington D.C. also require all motorcyclists to wear helmets when riding. Only three states, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire, have no helmet laws at all.
Compulsory Liability Insurance Is Required
Just like any other passenger vehicle in Massachusetts, motorcyclists must have insurance to register a motorcycle. Minimum coverage requires Bodily Injury protection (BI) of at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage up to $8,000 to cover medical expenses and lost employment (which only covers pedestrians who may be injured by you), and at least $5,000 per accident to cover property damage. Further, each motorcyclist's policy must have at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident uninsured motorist coverage.
Lane-Splitting Is Prohibited
We’ve all seen it before, bikers driving between slow moving or stopped traffic making nice forward progress while the rest of us sit in Boston traffic. It’s called lane splitting. Despite the fact that other states are starting to permit lane splitting, the practice is still not allowed in Massachusetts. Massachusetts did begin the process of studying the practice with an eye towards legalizing it but to date it has not made its way through the legislative process.
Miscellaneous Legal Requirements
Who doesn’t love listening to music while driving? Unfortunately, helmet speakers are not allowed. Also, eye protection is required for permit holders (unless a windscreen is in use). You also must have left and right turn signals. And for you Easy Rider fans, handlebars cannot rise above the rider's shoulders when seated in a safe position.
Most Dangerous Cities in Massachusetts To Ride Your Motorcycle
You might wish to be extra cautious if you drive in one of the following five cities in Massachusetts which have the highest rates of motorcycle accidents in the Commonwealth.
4) New Bedford
5) Fall River
How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle
Let’s face it, riding is more dangerous than driving a car. You don’t have a protective steel frame, airbags, and seatbelts to protect you. Add to this the fact that many of the drivers around you are people who may be looking at their phones . So, what can you do to lessen the risks of enjoying yourself on your motorcycle? Here are some basic tips:
- Make sure you know how to ride. Roughly 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in serious injury or death. Take a motorcycle safety course, such as the one being offered in Revere by Harley Davidson. These courses can teach students about traffic laws that apply to bikes in Boston, and how to react in emergency situations.
- Until your skill level increases, ride off hours and stay away from heavily congested areas. If you can get out of the city for some practice rides, do so.
- Lastly, it’s important to use common sense and follow all traffic laws, including the speed limit, on every ride. Riding should never be done in poor weather; proper riding gear should always be worn; and a reasonable speed should always be maintained.
- Never drive a motorcycle after drinking alcohol or taking any prescription or nonprescription drugs that will affect your ability to drive safely.
Have You Been Injured in a Boston Motorcycle Accident?
The best thing you can do if you have been injured in a Boston motorcycle accident and want to be fairly compensated is to understand your legal rights before you make any decisions. Before you speak to an insurance company adjuster, sign or submit any paperwork or hire a lawyer, you owe it to yourself to get as much information as you can, so you can make a smart decision on what you need to do next. At Spada Law Group, we offer free consumer guides and videos that answer many of the questions car accident victims have. Take a look, download our free information or contact us for a free consultation. Learn what Spada Law Group is all about and how we might be the right motorcycle accident lawyers for you.