Illinois has survived another winter. A look at the calendar confirms that spring has arrived, which means that the warm weather will be arriving soon. And warmer weather means that motorcycle enthusiasts will soon be breaking their bikes out of winter storage and taking to the roads again.
But along with that increase in motorcyclists on the road comes the increase in the number of fatal motorcycle accidents that happen every year.
According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcycle drivers and their passengers are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people who are in other types of vehicles. Motorcycles offer no protection at all to riders if they are involved in a crash with a vehicle. This is why it is crucial to practice safe ride habits.
As any good Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer will tell you, a good rule for motorcyclists to follow is to always drive defensively when they are on their bike. Stay observant and alert, and always try to anticipate what other drivers around you are going to do. Always leave enough space between you and the other vehicles in the event you need to unexpectedly stop or slow down.
Wearing the right riding gear is also important when driving a motorcycle. Although Chicago has no required helmet law, studies show that riders who do wear helmets are three times more likely to suffer brain injuries in the event of a crash. Not wearing a helmet also leaves you with a 40 percent more risk of suffering a fatal head injury if you are in a motorcycle accident.
Wearing protective jackets, pants, boots, and gloves will also protect your body from road rash and burns if you crash. Also, make sure you are wearing reflective gear if you are riding at night.
It is not just motorcycle drivers who should practice safe driving behaviors to help avoid motorcycle accidents. Other vehicle drivers should also be aware that they need to watch out for motorcycles on the road, especially with warmer temperatures arriving.
If you are driving near a motorcycle in and around Chicago, make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the bike. If you are changing lanes, make sure to check your blind spot to ensure there is not a bike in the lane area you are about to drive into.
If you are making a turn, make sure there is not a motorcycle coming into your path or that there are not motorcycles traveling beside you on the side you are about to turn.
The massive size and weight of semi-trucks and tractor-trailers cause more damage than other types of vehicles. The weight of an average passenger car is approximately 4,000 pounds, while the weight of fully-loaded truck can reach up to 80,000 pounds.
According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), approximately one in every 20 truck drivers will be in an accident each year.
FMCSA statistics show that there are more than 140,000 truck accidents every year, and over half of those crashes are the fault of the truck driver. Truck accidents claim the lives of more than 5,000 victims each year, and leave thousands of others seriously injured.
There has been a lot of focus over the past few years regarding truck driver fatigue and the role it plays in truck accidents in Chicago, however, there are several other factors that the FMCSA has determined which also play significant roles in why so many truck drivers are responsible for these crashes.
According to the FMCSA, the top ten reasons for tractor-trailer accidents caused by truck drivers are:
- Use of prescription drugs – cause of 26 percent truck accidents;
- Speeding – cause of 23 percent of truck accidents;
- Unfamiliarity with the road driver is traveling on – cause of 22 percent of truck accidents;
- Over-the-counter medication use – cause of 18 percent of truck accidents;
- Failure to property survey driving area – cause of 14 percent of truck accidents;
- Driver fatigue – cause of 13 percent of truck accidents;
- Making illegal maneuvers with vehicle – cause of 9 percent of truck accidents;
- Failure to pay attention to the road – cause of 8 percent of truck accidents;
- Failure to take evasive accident – cause of 7 percent of truck accidents; and
- Aggressive driving – cause of 7 percent of truck accidents.
There may be several parties liable for injury and property damages that are a result of a truck accident, depending on the actual cause of the crash. A Chicago truck accident attorney can help victims determine who is legally liable for those damages.
Although the recent weather may indicate otherwise, spring is actually just around the corner. That is good news to Illinois motorcyclists who will be pulling their bikes out of “winter hibernation” over the next couple of months.
Last year’s increase in motorcycle fatalities – up almost 10 percent from the previous year – serves as a reminder that people who enjoy motorcycles should adhere to the following safety tips in order to avoid serious accidents.
Before getting on that bike, make sure you feel comfortable in handling it. If you are a new motorcycle driver or have recently purchased a new bike, practice with it before taking it on the road. Your bike should have antilock brakes. If they don’t, invest in having them installed. These brakes help the driver to retain steering control in the event of an emergency stop.
Wearing a full-face helmet and the right gear can also play a critical role in whether a motorcyclist survives a crash. Statistics show that riders who do not wear helmets are 40 percent more at risk of a fatal brain injury in a crash. Clothes made specifically for riding – jackets, boots, gloves, pants – can help protect from burns and road rash.
A seasoned Illinois motorcycle driver will confirm that driving a bike is much different than other types of vehicles and it is important to always drive defensively. The majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by the driver of the other vehicle, so always be alert to that.
Other driver behaviors like lane changes, sudden stops, taking left-hand turns, and suddenly pulling out of side streets are all common factors in fatal motorcycle crashes.
There are not too many motorcyclists who enjoy driving in bad weather, however, there are times when you may find yourself caught in a storm. The safest thing to do is to pull off the road and find shelter until the bad weather passes.
If that isn’t possible, then remember that wet roads affect how well the bike’s tires will grip the road. Creating even more danger is all the oil residue the rain pushes to the surface of the road.
When you are riding, it is best to avoid roads that are not smooth. Dirt and gravel roads, or construction zone areas, can cause a driver to lose control of the bike. And watch out for potholes or other debris which may be on the road.
Keeping your vehicle in good working order is also key to driving safely. Do a check of your bike whenever you are getting ready to ride. Make sure your brakes, horn, lights, and directional signals are all in good working order. Also, make sure your tires are not underinflated or worn.
This is why you should obtain a skilled Chicago personal injury attorney immediately following a car accident in order to preserve your rights.
When the insurance company adjuster contacts you, he or she will most likely tell you that they need to record the conversation in order to process any insurance claim.
Although your own Illinois insurance policy may have a clause that requires you to agree to a recorded statement, this does not apply with the at-fault party’s insurance company and you do not have to agree to make a recorded statement.
It is not uncommon for symptoms from Illinois car accident injuries to not fully show up for days, even weeks, after the incident. You may be experiencing some discomfort in the first couple of days after the crash, but may still not be aware of how serious those injuries are.
Yet it is within that first day or two that the insurance company will call you to get you to make a recorded statement.
As a victim, this is one of the worst times to agree to speak with them since they may try to use anything you say against you in order to deny your claim. Make sure to consult with your attorney and let them facilitate any interaction between you and the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You should also not agree to sign a release of your medical records. Doing so allows the insurance company to learn about your past medical history and they could begin to start working on a case to try to prove your injuries were pre-existing and not caused by the accident.
The insurance company will put on the pressure to get you to settle. They may tell you that your injuries are only worth so much, but they are going to “do you a favor” and add a little extra, as if they are your friend.
Remember, once you settle your case, you will not be able to collect any additional damages if it turns out that your injuries are more extensive than you realized. Your attorney will guide you through the process of determining just how bad your injuries are and what the economic and non-economic damages really are.
A Chicago car accident attorney will aggressively advocate for you and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for any pain and loss you have suffered from the accident.
Everyone is guilty of some form of distracted driving. In fact, distracted drivers are almost everywhere you look: the cell phone socialite, the in-car iPod DJ, the high-fashion cosmetician, and the 3-course meal king or queen.
Studies have shown that people are limited in the amount of information they can process at any one time. To accommodate the multiple demands that occur during driving, people are forced to shift their attention back and forth. To reduce your chances of being in an accident, follow these six simple steps and avoid distracted driving.
- Use your cell phone for emergency situations only.
While you’re driving, a cell phone should only be used for emergency purposes. Even then, it’s best to pull over safely to the right shoulder to make a call. Even hands-free devices can still cause you to miss important visual and audio cues needed to avoid a crash.
- Social conversations on cell phones should not be carried on while driving. Remember, it’s against the law in a growing number of jurisdictions. You could be ticketed and fined.
- If you are drowsy, pull off the road.
Drowsiness increases the risk of a crash by nearly four times. A government study showed that 37 percent of U.S. drivers have nodded off or fallen asleep at least once during their driving careers. If you feel tired, get off the road; don’t try to get home faster.
- You should limit the number of passengers, as well as the level of activity inside the car.
Most state’s graduated driver licensing laws prohibit teens from having teenage passengers in the car with them during their early months of driving solo. Driving with friends can create a dangerous driving environment because novice drivers are focused on their friends rather than the road.
- Avoid eating while driving.
Being busy is no excuse for distracted driving. Finishing your breakfast on the way to work or school may seem like a time-saver, but it means you are less attentive to the drivers around you. Food spills are a major cause of distraction.
- Do your multi-tasking outside the car.
Everyone spends a lot of time in their vehicles, and it may seem like the perfect time to get little things done: calling friends, searching for good music, maybe even text messaging. Don’t do it. Focus on the road and the drivers around you. Get everything settled before you start driving.
From everyone here at Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys, we are always here to answer any questions you may have about the law and your rights in a given situation. Don’t hesitate to call for expert legal advice.