In 2015, Tennessee roadways claimed the lives of 123 motorcyclists and severely injured thousands more. According to crash data provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the number of motorcycle fatalities over the past five years has seesawed between 140 and 110, but has not fallen below 100 deaths in a single year.
The majority of these fatalities are a direct result of the following injuries:
- Brain trauma. During a motorcycle collision, it’s common for the rider to be thrown from his bike and strike the pavement or another hard surface. When the impact occurs on the skull or face, the victim can suffer severe brain injuries, including a fractured skull, bleeding or swelling in the brain, and bone protrusions into the brain.
- Spinal cord trauma. If the rider is thrown from his bike and strikes the pavement on his back, neck, or tail bone he can fracture his vertebrae, break his neck, or completely sever his spinal cord.
- Internal bleeding. The impact of a collision or the impact on the pavement can cause catastrophic damage to organs, tissues, and arteries. This damage can lead to internal bleeding and organ malfunction.
Although fatality rates are high, many Tennessee bikers acknowledge the risk involved when motorcycling but fail to acknowledge the cause of those risks.
How Motorcycle Accidents Occur
In addition to the tragic fatalities in Tennessee, every year over 3,000 motorcyclists are severely injured in collisions caused by the following:
- Distracted drivers. The majority of motorcycle accidents occur as a result of other drivers failing to see or plan for motorcyclists. Although Tennessee has thousands of registered motorcyclists, drivers often don't see them on the road. Unfortunately, added distractions for drivers make the already limited focus that much more narrow, thus increasing the risk for a driver to collide with a motorcycle.
- Dangerous roads. Since motorcycles depend on the rider to balance on two wheels, the condition of the road plays a large part in the rider’s safety. Cracks, potholes, road construction, and loose debris can all affect a motorcyclist’s ability to control his ride. In addition to causing the bike to skid or tip, poorly maintained roads can also force the rider to swerve or fall into oncoming traffic.
- Divided intersections. Busy intersections are a major hazard for motorcycle riders. In addition to the cross traffic of distracted drivers, riders must also face the tipping risks of 90-degree turns.
Avoiding the Risk
Part of your job as a motorcyclist is to be hyper-aware of your surroundings so you can respond to the threat of other vehicles. It may not be fair that the responsibility weighs heavier on your shoulders than on other motorists, but the truth of the matter is that you’re the one in greater danger. Although drivers do have a responsibility to drive carefully, when they fail, you’re the one who suffers. Therefore, to protect yourself, you must develop a sixth sense to identify risks and react accordingly before the threat even occurs. You can avoid accidents by following these simple riding tips:
- Pay attention. You need to be aware of any signs that could reveal a possible threat. It’s important to adjust your speed according to your surroundings. Once you identify a threat, you should have the time to work out how to safely combat the threat.
- Drive defensively. Just because your vehicle is smaller and more maneuverable does not mean you can disregard traffic laws and weave in and out of traffic—at least not if you want to survive. Make sure you keep your bike at a safe distance between cars, follow all traffic laws, never challenge a vehicle, and always keep track of other drivers. They may not see you, so you better be aware of them.
- Stay visible. Since your bike is smaller than a standard vehicle, other drivers may find it difficult to see you. Try to be aware of your position and stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots. If you must be in a blind spot to change lanes, spend as little time in it as possible.
Speaking Up to Protect Fellow Motorcyclists
We’d love to read your personal thoughts and experiences on the subject. Please share your concerns and opinions with our readers by writing a few sentences in the comment section provided. Your thoughts may help others better understand the risks of motorcycling and keep riders from taking unnecessary risks.
For more information on motorcycle safety, accidents, or how to pursue an injury claim, contact our office directly at 615-807-7900, or visit us at our Franklin office location.