The weather during the last week in Iowa has been pleasant and if the ten day forecast is accurate, Iowa weather will continue to be full of sunshine during the next several days. Many Iowans will choose to enjoy this great weather by riding their motorcycles. With additional motorcycles on the road comes a greater likelihood we will see more accidents involving motorcycles.
Unfortunately, this weekend in Iowa we saw two different motorcycle accidents resulting in fatalities. The first was on U.S. Highway 63 in Chickasaw County where a driver of a SUV failed to stop for a vehicle in front of it and stuck the vehicle pushing it into the oncoming lane of traffic where it collided with a motorcycle driven by Mark Hill of Cameron Missouri. The second incident occurred on Iowa Highway 14 in Marion County. Clayton Harsin of Knoxville, Iowa died when his motorcycle was struck from behind after Harsin had slowed his motorcycle to make a turn. The driver of the vehicle that struck Harsin fled the scene.
Both of the motorcyclists’ deaths in Iowa this weekend appear to be caused by the negligence of the other drivers. I’m sure we can all agree that we want to do our part to make sure Iowa roads are safe for all drivers including those operating motorcycles. With the many nice days ahead I thought it would be a good idea to provide some safety tips to consider for those sharing the road with motorcycles as well as for those riding motorcycles. Hopefully a review of the following safety tips can help prevent motorcycle accidents similar to those that occurred in Iowa this weekend.
MOTORCYCLE SAFETY TIPS
When sharing the road with motorcyclists:
• Give them a full lane of travel: Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane, never try to share a lane.
• Give your full attention to the driving task: Remain alert for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
• Be aware of the flashing signal: Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off.
• Stay alert for potential erratic movements: Wind gusts, both natural and those created by large passing vehicles, can move a motorcycle across an entire lane if the rider is not prepared; rain can make the road slippery; the blinding effect of a vehicle’s high beams can be dangerous; and hazards like dead and live animals and damage to the roadway can cause an erratic movement by the motorcyclist.
• Left turns: The most common crash type that occurs between a car/truck and motorcycle is the one that happens at an intersection as the motorist is making a left turn in front of a motorcycle
Riders can improve their safety by following some simple safety tips:
• Get trained: Take a motorcycle rider safety course to develop good techniques.
• Be properly licensed: Get a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.
• Wear protective gear: Wear proper protective riding gear (head protection, eye protection, protective clothing, and foot protection).
• Ride Proud-Dress Loud: Wear bright clothing and use retro reflective material.
• Ride unimpaired: Never drink or use drugs before getting on a motorcycle.
• Be alert: Being tired and drowsy can impair a motorcyclist’s ability to react.
• Know your bike: Be familiar with your motorcycle and how to handle it in adverse conditions, especially on gravel.
• Know the traffic laws and rules of the road: Aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, can lead to a crash.
• Watch for clues: Recognize it is difficult for motorists to judge how fast a motorcycle is going; blind spots around cars and trucks also prevent motorcyclists from being seen.
Michael T. Norris, Attorney
Slater Law, LLC