Pittsburgh area motorcycle crashes draw attention to safety issues

A number of serious motorcycle accidents have made headlines in and around the Pittsburgh area recently, emphasizing the importance of motorcycle safety in Pennsylvania.

On March 18, 2014, a South Fork woman was sentenced to prison for up to seven years, and ordered to pay more than $250,000 in restitution for her role in a crash that paralyzed a 42-year-old motorcyclist in Adams Township last year. Police say the driver was impaired by methadone and Xanax when she struck the motorcyclist with her vehicle last May.

The day after that sentence was handed down, a Monroeville man pled guilty to several criminal charges arising out of a fatal motorcycle crash that killed a 69-year-old man in June. Police say the Monroeville man drove his pickup truck into oncoming traffic and struck the motorcyclist head on.

Pennsylvania motorcycle crash statistics

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in 2013, there were more than 860,000 licensed motorcyclists in Pennsylvania, and that number has been rising steadily for the past several years. Unfortunately, the growing enthusiasm for motorcycling in Pennsylvania has brought with it a rising tide of motorcycle accidents.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in 2012, there were a total of 3,985 traffic accidents involving motorcycles on Pennsylvania roads, and 205 of these resulted in at least one fatality. Compared to crash data from 2011, this represents a 9 percent increase in total motorcycle accidents and a 3 percent increase in fatalities. About one-half of the motorcyclists who died and one-third of those who were injured were not wearing helmets.

May is Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month

With spring comes the onset of motorcycle season. State officials have designated May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. It is never too soon for drivers and motorcyclists alike to review the safety tips that could save a life.

Safety tips for car drivers:

  • Be on the lookout for motorcyclists at all times, particularly in peak motorcycle season.
  • Keep in mind that motorcyclists are easily obscured by blind spots and other vehicles.
  • Use extra caution to avoid motorcycles when changing lanes or turning.
  • Keep in mind that common road hazards like potholes, gravel or puddles can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists and may require sudden maneuvers.

Safety tips for motorcyclists:

  • Dress appropriately, including helmet, eye protection, over-the-ankle footwear and reflective, brightly colored clothing.
  • Communicate your movements to other drivers by signaling your turns and flashing your brake lights before slowing or stopping.
  • Maximize your visibility by using your headlight at all times and staying out of other drivers’ blind spots.
  • Leave enough space between yourself and other vehicles so that you have time to react if a dangerous situation should arise.

Get legal advice if you have been hurt in a crash

Motorcyclists who are hurt in accidents resulting from other drivers’ carelessness may be able to obtain financial compensation for their injuries and related expenses, including lost wages and medical bills. If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash and would like to learn more about your legal options, discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

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