Statistics indicate that the answer to this question is “yes”. For the past couple decades, fatalities from motorcycle accidents have been on the rise. During the 1990s, the average motorcycle accident fatality rate was under 3,000 per year. During the first decade of the new millennium, this number began to increase steadily, and in 2007, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities exceeded 5,000 for the first time.
Coincidentally (or maybe not such a coincidence), 2007 was the year Apple introduced the iPhone. And since that time, the use of smartphones has become widespread not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. The vast majority of motorists now have them, and today, motorcycle accident fatality rates are consistently at or near the 5,000 mark.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving can be anything that diverts a driver’s attention from the road. Motorists have always had distractions to contend with, and this has always been something that could lead to accidents. Some examples of common driver distractions that have been around for a while include eating, drinking, tuning the car radio, staring too long at billboards and other road signs, grooming, talking with passengers, and talking on the phone.
These distractions can fall into one or more of four general categories:
The distractions mentioned above usually fall into only one or two of these categories. And they can still be very hazardous under the wrong set of circumstances. But smartphone activity while behind the wheel brings distracted driving to a whole new level.
Texting while driving, looking through emails and social media apps, watching YouTube videos, and even reading a GPS navigation map are activities that can simultaneously distract drivers in three or four different ways. This means that the driver’s attention is diverted completely from the road, and the end result is far more instances when motorists put others on the road in danger.
To put into perspective how dangerous electronic activity on a smartphone is, consider that if you look down at your phone for just five seconds to send a text while driving 55 miles per hour, it is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. When drivers regularly engage in this type of activity, it is much easier not to notice important things are happening on the road.
Distracted Driving and Motorcycle Accidents
According to a 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, distracted driving is now a contributing factor in as many as 40% all motorcycle accidents in the United States. Because motorcycles have such a small profile, seeing them has always been a challenge for other motorists. This is why there has been an ongoing public awareness campaign for many decades to help address this concern.
Smartphone activity has apparently made this problem far worse. When a driver is looking down at their phone, it is very easy not to see a motorcycle that enters their blind spot. This can result in more collisions when the driver tries to change lanes or make a turn. This also increases the likelihood that the driver looking at their phone will weave into another lane, resulting in an accident.
Motorcyclists are already at higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities when they collide with another vehicle. Bikers do not have a steel cage to protect them when they are involved in a crash, and there is not much that separates their bodies from hitting the pavement. This is one of the major reasons why motorcycle deaths are 28 times more frequent (per 100,000 miles traveled) than with occupants of other vehicles.
With the increased risk of distracted driving accidents, motorcyclists need to do everything they can to protect themselves from distracted motorists. Here are some ways for bikers to stay safer on the road:
- Wear bright or reflective clothing;
- Always keep your lights on even during the day;
- Always make eye contact with other motorists before you cross in front of them;
- Look for signs that a motorist may be distracted, such as weaving over the center line, weaving back and forth between lanes, and staying at a stop sign or stoplight for too long;
- Refrain from distracted driving yourself.
Contact an Experienced Alabama Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Even if you follow all the best safety practices, you cannot control the driving behavior of others. If you or someone close to you was involved in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. To help ensure you recover full and fair compensation, it is best to work with a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
If the accident occurred in Alabama, call M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-581-9238 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.