Motorcycle riders recognize the dangers they face, especially from drivers who break traffic laws. Drivers who speed, tailgate, make unsafe turns or lane changes, drive recklessly, or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs put motorcyclists at risk of life-altering injuries.
Illegal driving behaviors such as these can lead to dangerous collisions, many of which occur at high speeds, thereby causing more severe trauma to motorcyclists. However, even when a motorcyclist gets hurt because a driver breaks the law, the injured rider may face challenges in recovering compensation for their injuries and other losses.
If you suffered injuries in a crash caused by a driver who broke the law, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney in Dade City can help you prove that the crash occurred due to the driver’s careless or reckless actions. This will give you a better chance of obtaining the financial relief you need for medical bills, lost income, and motorcycle repair costs.
Speeding drivers create a significant risk of motor vehicle accidents. When a driver exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for road, traffic, or visibility conditions, they leave themselves less time and space to react to changes in traffic.
For instance, if traffic ahead of a driver suddenly stops, a speeding driver needs more distance to slow down and come to a complete stop.
Speeding can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle, especially if the driver hits a slick patch of pavement or a pothole. A vehicle that swerves or spins out of control can hit other vehicles on the road, including motorcycles.
Speeding can also increase the severity of injuries sustained by a motorcyclist. The faster a vehicle travels, the more force it imparts in a collision. Thus, a speeding vehicle that collides with a motorcycle may inflict severe or life-threatening injuries on the motorcycle rider.
Drivers should follow posted speed limits and reduce their speed in adverse driving conditions, such as heavy traffic, low lighting, or heavy precipitation. Drivers who cause motorcycle accidents due to speeding may need to pay for the resulting injuries and losses. These drivers could face charges for speeding or criminal reckless driving.
Tailgating/Following Too Closely
Motorists should leave enough distance between their vehicles and those ahead to slow down if traffic suddenly slows or stops. Following other vehicles at an unsafe distance constitutes tailgating.
Tailgating creates a risk of rear-end collisions, and this risk increases when a passenger vehicle or truck tailgates a motorcycle.
Motorcycles require less space and time to slow down than other motor vehicles. A driver who doesn’t realize this and tailgates a motorcyclist will likely fail to slow down in time to avoid a collision should traffic come to a halt.
A rear-end accident can throw a rider off their motorcycle and onto the ground, causing catastrophic injuries.
Many people spend a large part of the day on their cell phones. Unfortunately, some people fail to put their phones away when they get behind the wheel. Drivers who use their cell phones while driving or engage in other distractions put themselves and other road users at serious risk.
Distracted driving behaviors such as texting, browsing social media, eating, drinking, grooming, applying makeup, or adjusting the radio can cause drivers to lose control, resulting in catastrophic accidents.
When drivers take their attention off the road, they don’t notice when other motorists brake, change lanes, or turn.
Distracted drivers pose a threat to motorcyclists in particular because drivers fail to notice motorcycles, which are smaller than passenger cars, even when their attention is on the road.
A distracted driver is more likely to hit a motorcyclist while changing lanes, turning, or tailgating. Distracted drivers may also fail to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists, resulting in head-on collisions.
Disregarding Traffic Controls
All road users must obey traffic signs and lights. Most motorists assume that when they have a green light at an intersection, for instance, cross-traffic will stop at the red light to allow oncoming traffic to proceed through the intersection.
A driver who ignores a red light or tries to beat a yellow light and proceeds through an intersection puts other motorists at risk, particularly motorcyclists.
Because motorists expect others to obey traffic laws, an unsuspecting road user hit by a driver running a red light or a stop sign is unlikely to swerve to avoid the collision. As such, they may suffer severe injuries, particularly in a head-on accident. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to such collisions, as they lack the protections of vehicle occupants.
Disregarding traffic controls may also lead to T-bone and side-impact collisions. When drivers go through a red light or stop sign, they might T-bone a motorcyclist making a turn at the intersection. This impact can launch the rider into the air before they fall to the ground.
Failing to Yield the Right of Way
Traffic laws govern how motorists should yield the right-of-way to one another. Right-of-way rules ensure orderly traffic flow, primarily at stop sign-controlled intersections or rotaries.
Drivers who don’t know the rules or disregard them may put motorcyclists at risk of accidents at intersections, particularly if they drive through stop signs and hit the side of a motorcyclist driving through.
Improper Passing or Turning
Drivers can cause accidents through unsafe or illegal passing or turning. Drivers who try to change lanes or pass motorcycles or other vehicles when doing so is illegal can put other motorists in harm’s way, particularly motorcyclists. A motorcycle rider won’t expect a driver to change lanes or pass where not allowed.
Drivers who change lanes without signaling can surprise motorcycle riders in adjacent lanes. Furthermore, when drivers fail to check their mirrors or blind spots before switching lanes or passing, they might fail to see a motorcyclist. As smaller vehicles, motorcycles can more easily slip into drivers’ blind spots.
Motorists should always signal before turning to alert other road users to their intentions. For instance, drivers should signal before turning left against oncoming traffic with the right-of-way, such as when turning into a parking lot or turning left at an intersection.
Furthermore, a driver may have trouble judging the distance and speed of an approaching motorcycle and turn in front of them, thinking they can safely complete the turn. In such a case, signaling warns the approaching rider that the driver intends to turn in front of them, which may decrease the risk of a collision.
Under Florida law, a motorcyclist has the right to the entire lane width. Drivers cannot operate their vehicles in any manner that deprives a motorcycle operator of the entire lane width. (However, two motorcycles may ride side-by-side in the same lane.) Under the law, drivers must move to an adjacent lane (if legal) to pass a motorcycle.
Drivers unaware of this law might assume they can pass a motorcyclist as they would a bicyclist. A driver may fail to move their vehicle over to an adjacent lane, instead passing a motorcycle while part of their vehicle remains in the same lane as the motorcycle. But passing too close to a motorcycle can cause the driver to “clip” the rider, potentially causing the rider to lose control and crash or “wipe out.”
Driving While Intoxicated
Florida’s DUI statute makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances to the extent that a motorist cannot operate their vehicle safely. The law also makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair a motorist in multiple ways, including altering their perception, reducing their reaction times, impairing their judgment, and lowering their inhibition.
Intoxicated drivers may not react as quickly as they should to traffic or may not notice other vehicles or changing traffic signals.
Drug or alcohol intoxication might lead a driver to engage in risk-taking behaviors such as speeding, swerving through traffic, or disregarding traffic signals.
Drug or drugged drivers present a significant hazard for motorcyclists. Drivers often fail to notice motorcyclists even when sober. Alcohol or drug intoxication may render drivers incapable of recognizing a motorcycle due to blurred vision or inattention. Furthermore, intoxicated drivers who speed or drive recklessly may cause catastrophic motorcycle accidents if they hit riders at excessive speeds.
Florida law defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
A motorist drives recklessly when they consciously disregard that their driving behavior creates a substantial risk of injury or property damage.
Reckless driving include:
- Excessive speeding, including driving 25 to 30 miles per hour above the posted speed limit
- Street racing
- Driving despite recognizing one’s impairment due to alcohol or drugs
- Intentionally running red lights or stop signs
- Refusing to yield the right-of-way
- Fleeing law enforcement in a motor vehicle
- Crossing over the center double yellow line
- Passing a stopped school bus on an undivided street or highway
Because reckless driving involves intentionally disregarding traffic laws, reckless drivers can cause catastrophic accidents with motorcyclists. A reckless driver may hit a motorcycle at full speed if they fail to brake or swerve to avoid the collision.
Reckless drivers might also hit motorcyclists at vulnerable points, such as on the rear or side of the motorcycle. Drivers should remain calm behind the wheel to avoid reckless or aggressive driving behaviors.
Injured Motorcyclists May Recover Compensation
A motorcyclist who suffers injuries in an accident caused by a driver’s traffic violations might have the right to hold that driver liable for their injuries and other crash-related losses.
An injured rider may file a motorcycle accident claim to recover compensation for motorcycle repairs, medical bills, and lost income.
However, injured motorcycle riders might face challenges when trying to seek compensation for their losses.
Motorcyclists often face bias from other drivers and their insurance companies. However, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help an injured rider pursue the financial relief and justice they deserve after a crash caused by a careless or reckless driver.
If a driver injured you after breaking a traffic law, you have legal options for obtaining compensation. A lawyer can review the facts of your case, determine who is liable for your injuries, and advise you on your rights.
An attorney can stand up to insurers and other parties that deny or minimize the claims of injured motorcyclists to help you move forward after an accident.