The Tampa Bay area is great for outdoor activities, so residents and visitors can go out whenever possible. However, the traffic makes extensive travel a bit of a hassle.
According to the TomTom Traffic Index, Tampa ranked 11 among the cities with the worst traffic in the US in 2021. The situation is not much different for most cities in the Tampa Bay area and Hillsborough County. It is no wonder that more than 73,000 drivers in Hillsborough County have motorcycle endorsements.
Motorcycles are a preferred means of transportation in busy cities and highways because they can go fast even if there’s traffic. However, the popularity of motorcycle riding has its downside.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports an increase in motorcycle crashes, from 6,920 crashes in 2020 to 8,648 in 2021. More specifically, there were 620 fatalities and 7,397 injuries in 2021. Hillsborough County alone accounted for 6.7% of all motorcycle crashes in 2021.
Motorcycle riders are more vulnerable to severe injuries or death following an accident because of a motorcycle’s inherent lack of protection. While helmets and other safety gear offer a buffer, a motorcycle crash usually results in injuries, which can range from minor bruises to catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord and brain injuries.
If you sustain a personal injury in Florida because of someone else’s negligence, you can get compensation. You can sue their insurance company for economic and non-economic damages, such as emotional distress, with the help of a Tampa motorcycle accident lawyer.
The Personal Injury Center is where you can find a law firm to handle your case. We offer free consultations to determine the motorcycle accident lawyer who best fits your needs.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The 2020 Traffic Safety Facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides motorcycle crash data. It reports that 55% of fatal crashes involved another vehicle, and in 76% of those crashes, motorcycles were struck head-on.
However, the motorcycle injury rate (468) demonstrates how vulnerable motorcyclists are. It is four times that of passenger occupants (105) and eight times that of light-truck occupants (58). Let’s look at the common causes of fatal and non-fatal crashes in the US.
Roads and weather conditions
While you might think that bad weather or roads cause most motorcycle crashes, it’s not true in most cases. The NHTSA report shows that the majority of motorcycle accidents happened in the daytime (57%) on a clear or cloudy day (97%) in urban areas (61%). The Tampa Bay area mostly has clear days.
However, these conditions are not necessarily ideal for driving. For example, light glinting off a vehicle’s windshield on a sunny day in Tampa Bay might blind other drivers. Uneven pavements or loose gravel on the road during construction can make a motorcyclist traveling at a high speed lose control.
Distracted driving, such as texting or talking on the phone, can easily lead to motorcycle crashes and cause serious injuries to the rider. Add a sudden storm and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.
Overspeeding and reckless driving in the Tampa Bay area
Though Florida has specific speed limits, many drivers disregard them. While there are no updated statistics on speeding in the Tampa Bay area, the national data is quite compelling.
According to the NHTSA, about 40% of crashes occur interstate, where many vehicles travel at high speeds. Of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes, 34% exceeded the speed limit or drove too fast for the conditions. In fact, 45% of those aged between 25 and 29 exceeded the speed limit.
The funny thing is that the report also indicates that most motorcyclists (66%) don’t end up in an accident because of overspeeding. Interestingly, an NHTSA study from 1981 supports this conclusion and found that most motorcycle crashes occurred at speeds less than 30 miles per hour. Rather, the report cited disregarding a motorcyclist’s right of way as a significant factor in causing accidents.
Left turning vehicles
According to police reports, nearly half (42%) of two-vehicle fatal motorcycle crashes (1,158) in 2020 were caused by left-turning vehicles. The left-turning motorist failed to anticipate whether the motorcyclist was overtaking, passing another vehicle, or going straight.
Since motorcycles are often in the other driver’s blind spot, it’s not difficult to see why this is such a significant issue. However, it’s the driver’s responsibility to proceed with caution when turning left to avoid accidents. A Tampa motorcycle accident attorney can prove liability when a driver does not yield the right of way in Florida and causes an accident.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is always wrong and, considering a motorcyclist’s vulnerabilities, it can affect them the most. According to the 2020 Traffic Safety Facts, there were 5,286 fatalities from motorcycle crashes in the US, with 564 (10.67%) in Florida. Of the Florida fatalities, 41% (230) involved alcohol-impaired driving, which means that their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over .08 g/dL.
The primary reason why drunk driving causes accidents is because it slows down a driver’s reaction time. Riding a motorcycle requires balance and concentration, which are both significantly impaired if the driver is intoxicated.
On the other hand, a sober motorcyclist is unlikely to win an argument with a drunk driver of a passenger vehicle or truck. The NHTSA reported that 26% of people (871) in fatal car accidents in 2020 had a BAC of over .08 g/dL.
Motorcycle Safety Tips Every Driver Must Know
Since riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, most people would simply give it up. However, it’s best if motorcyclists and other drivers learn some safety tips.
Check the weather
Motorcycles are prone to slip on wet roads. Therefore, you should check the weather before heading out. However, if it’s possible, stay off the road during inclement weather.
If you must head out, remember to maintain speeds appropriate for the weather. While speed limits are posted, it may not be safe to drive at that speed in poor weather conditions. Rather, you may want to drive slower than the speed limit.
Motorcyclists should also wear clothing that will make them more conspicuous. Rainy weather tends to impair visibility and, therefore, other drivers might have a harder time seeing you on the road.
Make sure your motorcycle is in excellent condition
Before getting on your bike, make sure it’s road worthy. For example, check your tires and brakes to make sure that they are in good working condition. A tire blowout or brake failure can cause serious accidents, especially if you’re traveling at high speeds.
Ensure everything is working, especially your headlights, taillights, and turn signals. You should also check your fuel, oil, mirrors, horn, and handlebars.
Wear protective gear to minimize injuries
Wear a helmet even if you’re not legally required to do so. Though Florida mandates eye-protective gear, it doesn’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Section 316.211 of the Florida Statutes allows anyone over the age of 21 with adequate insurance to ride without protective headgear.
However, one report indicates that helmets protect 37% of motorcyclists and 41% of their passengers from death when involved in an accident. It also indicates that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%. These odds make it a good idea to wear a helmet that meets safety standards. Knee pads and closed shoes also help.
Look in all directions when turning left
Most motorcycle accidents in the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas, are preventable. Many of these accidents happen at intersections consisting of left turns. This indicates that other drivers don’t know how to share the road with motorcyclists.
When you’re on the road, pay special attention when crossing an intersection or making a left turn. A motorcyclist may be in your blind spot and, therefore, you should look around before making a move. Make a habit of checking your rear and side mirrors, especially when you’re changing lanes.
Respect other motorists to prevent motorcycle accidents
Learning to share the road with other motorists can help you avoid trouble. Practice road courtesy by giving way at intersections and observing the right of way rules.
Avoid crowding out bikers by getting in their lanes and slow down when bikers are maneuvering between lanes. If you see a motorcycle’s turn signal blinking, don’t pass it until you’re sure the rider isn’t going to turn.
Let Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Fight for You
Sustaining severe injuries from a motorcycle accident can significantly change your life and that of your loved ones. Aside from extensive medical bills, they can prevent you from resuming normal activities. When someone else’s negligence caused the accident, you might be able to get compensation.
However, proving liability for motorcycle accidents in Florida can be tricky. Motorcycle accident victims need a legal team in Tampa Bay with appropriate skills and knowledge. The Personal Injury Center can help you find the right lawyer to handle your case.
Extensive knowledge of Florida personal injury laws
Similar to doctors’ specializations, lawyers also focus on specific areas of the law. While all Florida lawyers may know a bit about personal injury law, only lawyers who practice personal injury deeply understand the subject. The Personal Injury Center matches your case with a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer.
Years of experience in motorcycle accident cases
Winning a personal injury lawsuit is not easy. Finding a lawyer with a proven track record in motorcycle accident cases can help you succeed.
Most personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling one or two types of accident cases. The Personal Injury Center offers a free case evaluation to help you find experienced lawyers for your case.
You have no time to waste. Head to The Personal Injury Center site to find your ideal motorcycle accident lawyer in Tampa Bay.
FAQs on Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Tampa Bay
Why do you need to get a motorcycle accident lawyer?
Filing a personal injury lawsuit is not something you should do impulsively. It can be expensive and take a lot of time. A motorcycle accident lawyer can assess the case on its merits and advise you about your best course of action.
What should you do after a minor motorcycle accident?
The critical thing to do after any accident is not to panic. In the case of a minor motorcycle accident, your first concern is to ensure everyone involved is okay.
Your next step is to report the incident to the police so it can be documented. You will need a police report to make an insurance claim for any property damage and bodily injuries. While waiting for the authorities, take photos of the scene and get statements from eyewitnesses.
After talking to the police, head to a medical facility for a thorough examination. Some injuries may not be immediately visible, but a trained professional can identify potential issues. If your injuries turn out to be more serious than you thought, the consequences may be dire. If the crash wasn’t your fault, you might need to consult an attorney about getting compensation.
Who is liable in most motorcycle accidents?
In cases involving a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle, the driver of the passenger vehicle is often at fault. Typically, the driver was not paying attention and failed to observe the biker’s right of way.