In spite of research showing that lane splitting by motorcyclists reduces the risk of rear-end collisions and injuries to riders’ torsos and heads, lane splitting remains illegal in Tennessee. Lane splitting involves a motorcyclist pulling up between vehicles instead of behind them, which helps to prevent them from being struck from behind while also reducing congestion. When lane splitting is not done in the correct way, it can increase the risk of accidents and cause incidents of road rage. While there are pros and cons of the practice, when lane splitting is done in a safe manner it may reduce the risk of motorcycle accidents. When accidents are caused by negligent motorists, a personal injury attorney may help the victims.
Lane Splitting Findings
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley reviewed data from 6,000 motorcycle accidents from June 2012 and Aug. 2013. Of those, 997 involved motorcyclists who were lane splitting when they crashed. Lane splitting was found to be the safest when the motorcyclists did not drive more than 15 mph faster than the vehicles around them and when they were traveling less than 50 mph. Nine percent of the lane-splitting motorcyclists suffered head injuries while 17 percent of motorcyclists who weren’t lane splitting suffered injuries to their heads. Nineteen percent of lane-splitting motorcyclists suffered torso injuries as compared to 29 percent of motorcyclists who were not lane splitting. The lane-splitting motorcyclists were also less likely to have been injured in rear-end crashesas compared to riders who were not lane splitting.
Tennessee Lane Splitting
At the urging of motorcyclists, the Tennessee House of Representatives had a bill introduced in 2015 that would have legalized lane splitting in the state. The bill listed several advantages that would have been offered if lane splitting was legalized, including better visibility, better focus, reductions in rear-end crashes and reductions in traffic congestion. The bill was not taken up and died before it could be considered. Therefore lane splitting is still illegal in Tennessee despite its potential to prevent motorcycle accidents.
When motorcyclists are injured in accidents, they often suffer debilitating injuries because of the minimal protection that they have from the environment around them. A personal injury attorney may help injured victims with their accident claims.
Motorcycles are notorious in Tennessee and across the nation for being inherently dangerous vehicles. A Tennessee motorcycle accident attorney understands that in many cases the vehicle’s reputation may not be an accurate assessment of its safety around other vehicles. According to a recent study performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most crashes between motor vehicles and motorcycles occur because the drivers of the cars fail to properly yield the right of way to oncoming bikers.
About the study
To reach their conclusion, the NHTSA performed a study with the main purpose of determining why so many motorcycle fatalities result from two-vehicle crashes. They also aimed to determine factors involved in these accidents. Researchers relied on data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a nationwide census that tracks yearly public data for fatal motor vehicle accidents, for the study. They analyzed data trends for crash characteristics, vehicle type, and the role of the driver and operator in each accident.
The results were reported in Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes. In it, researchers showed that more than 85 percent of two-vehicle crashes which resulted in the death of one or more motorcyclist involved passenger vehicles. Moreover, 90 percent of those killed were the motorcyclists, and eight percent were passengers on motorcycles. Only two percent of those who were fatally injured were occupants of passenger vehicles. The research also revealed that a startling number, 35 percent, of passenger vehicle motorists involved in these accidents were the ones who failed to yield the right of way. Only four percent of motorcyclists failed to yield to other motor vehicles.
Preventable accidents with real consequences
A Tennessee motorcycle accident attorney knows that accidents similar to those the researchers used for the study happen daily in Tennessee. ABC News 2 in Nashville reports that a biker was critically injured in an accident when he recently crashed into a minivan in Belle Meade. The accident occurred at the intersection of Harding Place and Harding Pike when the driver of the minivan turned left and into the biker’s path. The motorcyclist was taken to the hospital with serious leg injuries, and doctors indicated that he may possibly lose his leg.
Preventing these deadly collisions
These car and motorcycle accidents occur often, but both motorists and bikers can take steps to help minimize the chances that they will be involved in a similar crash. Researchers with the NHTSA indicate that the largest tool motorists can use is motorcycle awareness. Motorists should also make it a habit to look twice for motorcycles before pulling out into traffic.
Bikers can do their part by wearing bright colors or reflective clothing to increase their visibility and the likelihood that they will be noticed. When these tactics fail and accidents do occur, injured motorcyclists should contact a Tennessee motorcycle accident attorney immediately for legal assistance.
Motorcycle fatalities in Tennessee have increased dramatically, from 42 deaths in 1998 to 134 deaths in 2013, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. The rise in motorcycle causalities in Tennessee during that 15-year period has been steady, and mirrors an increase in motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a national increase from 2,334 motorcycle deaths in 1998 to 5,080 fatalities in 2012. State officials are looking for ways to decrease the number of motorcycle accidents and increase motorcyclists’ safety on Tennessee roadways.
Before finding a way to resolve the rise in deaths due to motorcycle accidents, it is crucial to find the potential root causes for this staggering increase in fatalities. According to the United States Department of Transportation, a surge in motorcycle registrations since 1997 may provide information as to why more people are getting into motorcycle accidents. From 1997 to 2006, motorcycle registrations in the U.S. rose by 75 percent. With a greater number of motorcycles traveling on U.S. roadways, more collisions are likely.
New advances in technology over the past 15 years have added another cause of motorcycle accidents. Distraction.gov reports that distracted drivers were responsible for the deaths of 3,328 people in 2012. Distracted driving auto accidents injured over 421,000 people that same year. Motorists, who use their cellphones, program their navigation devices or change the DVDs in their cars’ entertainment center while driving, may fail to acknowledge smaller motorcyclists riding alongside them. Improper turns and failure to yield are just a few ways that distracted driving can result in a devastating motorcycle crash.
A 48-year-old Kansas motorist admitted to engaging in distractive activities while driving, which may have caused him to hit an elderly man who was riding his motorcycle. According to Kansas First News, the driver was operating a pickup truck and attempting to change a CD when he collided with the motorcyclist, who was killed as a result of the accident.
Failure to yield
Failure to yield is another common cause of deadly motorcycle accidents. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a biker was hit by a vehicle that was attempting to make a turn. The motorcyclist was thrown onto the hood of another vehicle waiting at a stop sign and later died. The motorist was given a citation for failing to yield to the motorcycle, but did not receive any criminal charges.
Due to an increased number of motorcycles on national and state roadways, as well as a growing number of motorcycle fatalities, many state and national organizations, including the NHTSA, have developed campaigns designed to bring awareness to this deadly problem.
Although motorcyclists have the same rights as all other types of vehicles on Tennessee roadways, many drivers seem oblivious to their existence. The reason for this phenomenon may lie in the results of a recent study conducted at Monash University. According to Science Daily, the study looked at how likely people are to perceive certain types of vehicles that they are not used to driving around. This behavior may increase the risk of motorcycle accidents.
In order to get a better insight into how motorists perceive their driving environment, researchers used vehicle simulators to evaluate whether or not drivers reacted to certain vehicles that they passed in traffic. Researchers asked test subjects to identify both motorcycles and buses, and then controlled the instances of when and where they appeared. While half of the drivers received more buses during the experiment, others were given more motorcycles.
The results showed that most drivers selectively attended to whichever type of vehicle showed up most frequently in their experiment. Those who were given more motorcycles were able to see them from a further distance and were less likely to spot the buses. Drivers who had more buses in their traffic simulation paid less attention to passing motorcyclists. The outcome supported the theory that when people see more of something, they are more likely to watch out for them.
Watching out for motorcycles
In many cities across America, motorcycles are clearly outnumbered by cars, trucks and tractor trailers. If the results of the study hold true, vehicles may be more likely to cause a disastrous motorcycle accident if they are unaware that the motorcycle is there.
A study evaluating over a decade of motorcycle accidents in Florida found that in a majority of the incidents, the vehicle was responsible for causing the accident. The study published in the Sun Sentinel showed that many accidents were caused by negligent drivers who failed to yield to oncoming motorcycles, possibly because they were unable to accurately perceive the motorcycle’s distance or they failed to notice them altogether.
Motorcycle fatality rate
The motorcycle fatality rate in the United States has been steadily increasing over the past five years, jumping from 4,603 deaths in 2009 to 5,080 fatalities in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With a substantial increase in motorcycle deaths and injuries, people are looking for ways to increase motorcycle awareness and safety.
If drivers are more aware of their tendency to overlook motorcycles, they may be more cautious when driving alongside motorcycles on Tennessee roadways.