Motorcyclists take on many inherent risks when they hit the open road in Kansas City. From sustaining more serious injuries in a crash to being less visible than other vehicles, motorcyclists must take certain precautions to minimize risks. Responsible motorcyclists understand their increased vulnerability in an accident and the hazards that come with riding a motorcycle versus driving a passenger vehicle. In the world of motorcycle safety, however, there are several myths that can mislead the average motorcyclist and increase his or her likelihood of injury.
Myth: Wearing a Helmet Won’t Help in Most Crashes
Many motorcyclists mistakenly believe that any crash will be serious enough to cause injury regardless of wearing a helmet. However, there’s no question wearing a helmet significantly reduces your chances of sustaining a head injury or traumatic brain injury. In 2014, 47 Kansan motorcyclists died in accidents. Of these fatalities, the majority (29 people) weren’t wearing helmets. Head and brain injuries are the most common cause of motorcyclist death in an accident. While a helmet doesn’t guarantee a rider’s safety, it improves the likelihood that a crash won’t kill him or her.
Myth: Wearing a Helmet Impedes My Driving Ability
Kansas doesn’t require adult motorcycle drivers or passengers to wear helmets. Missouri law, on the other hand, has required helmets for all riders since 1967. Motorcyclists who choose not to wear a helmet often say they make this decision because they believe helmets impede peripheral vision and hearing. On the contrary, wearing a helmet will block rain and debris, protect against bugs, and reduce wind noise – improving one’s sight and sound.
Myth: A Skilled Rider Can Always Prevent a Crash
While it’s true that a skilled motorcyclist has better odds of safely reacting to roadway conditions and avoiding accidents, there are some situations that even the most experienced rider can’t predict. Many motorcycle accidents result from a passenger vehicle driver’s negligence. Defensive driving can help motorcyclists evade these crashes, but sometimes a collision is inevitable. Cars can pull out directly in front of or on top of motorcycles, leaving no time to react. No matter how skilled you are behind the handlebars, always dress for a crash and avoid situations that put you at risk (such as driving in poor weather).
Myth: Lane Splitting Is Unsafe
California is the only state to have legalized motorcycle lane splitting. Lane splitting has a stigma that it’s more dangerous than motorcyclists staying in the lane. Lane splitting, however, prevents motorcyclist rear-end collisions, a common cause of injury and death. It also gives motorcyclists more control of the situation, because they can see the roadway beyond the vehicle directly in front of them. Thus, prudent lane splitting in slowed or stopped traffic tends to be safer than staying in the lane.
Myth: Streets Are Safer Than Highways
Due to the lower speeds of residential roads and city streets compared to highways, many motorcyclists believe that the former is the safer route. Streets, however, run the risk of intersection accidents – a common cause of motorcyclist injury and death. A common accident for motorcyclists is a vehicle failing to yield the right of way and turning left into a motorcycle at an intersection.
Side streets from which a driver can pop out of unexpectedly don’t exist on highways, where everyone travels in the same direction. There are also no pedestrians and fewer roadside obstacles to hit. Despite the increased speeds of highways, these factors actually make them safer to travel than streets.
Myth: Most Accidents Are the Other Driver’s Fault
It’s easy to blame negligent passenger vehicle drivers for motorcycle crashes – and in many accidents, this is the case. However, 25% of motorcyclist deaths result from motorcycles colliding with fixed objects. Motorcyclists have a duty to stay vigilant and obey roadway rules. This includes driving at safe speeds for conditions and not drinking and riding.
Contact a Kansas City Motorcycle Attorney
If you or somebody you love was seriously injured or killed in an accident while a motorcycle in either Kansas or Missouri, contact a skilled Kansas City motorcycle accident lawyer. He or she will be able to help you understand your available legal options, should you have a case.