After much debate, the law requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet in Florida was repealed in 2000. Since that time, motorcycle deaths have steadily increased. Between 2000 and 2008, there were 3,716 motorcyclists and their passengers killed in traffic crashes, an average of 413 per year or over one per day. In 2008, motorcycle fatalities dropped from the previous year by 3.4 percent representing 17.8 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.
In 2015, there were 606 deaths attributed to motorcycle crashes in Florida. By county, Miami-Dade had the highest number, 67. The increase in number of deaths may be slightly related to the increase in the number of people residing in and visiting Florida, but clearly the increase in number of deaths exceeds the increase in population (by percent) and many people are calling for the helmet law to be reinstated.
Here’s why: Florida leads the nation in motorcycle crash fatalities. While motorcycles accounted for only 3 percent of all registered vehicles in our state, motorcyclists constituted 20 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. A recent study found that about 50% of Florida motorcyclists wear helmets even though they are not required to do so. In states (19) where helmets are require.
The comedian Norm MacDonald does a routine about people worrying about death. A lot of people get on an airplane and immediately start to worry the plane will crash. Ridiculous, says Norm, and he’s right. Airplanes are extremely safe. He explains that some people obsess that they will be attacked and killed by terrorists! Also, highly unlikely. But, he asks, “what are the chances you will be attacked and killed by your own heart? About 100%.” The point is, if you take time to take care of your heart and your body you’ll surely live longer.
Motorcycles are obviously a lot of fun to ride for many people. I know many motorcycle enthusiasts who would never give up the experience no matter how dangerous it may or may not be. Being aware of the most common causes for motorcycle accidents and ways to avoid them is the key to enjoying motorcycles for many safe years. So what are the 10 most common causes for accidents? We’re going to cover 5 in this article, and 5 more later.
How to avoid: You must see it coming and anticipate it. If there is a gap in traffic coming the other direction, watch carefully for someone who might try to turn left. Don’t count on a turn signal since most people just don’t use them. See if the person seems to have locked on to you with their eyes. Are they focusing on you or on the direction they want to go? Usually it’s the latter. Are their wheels turned left already? Is there someone behind you? What is the road surface? All this data streams into your brain as you have less than a millisecond to make a decision. It’s just a good idea to reduce speed and stay focused. Also, is your headlight on?
Currently Illegal, Lane Splitting may be Permitted in Florida
The most common types of motor vehicle accidents are:
Single Car Accidents
T-Bone – or cross traffic accidents
Side-to-Side Collision while Changing Lanes
All these accidents may result in injuries or they me be survivable, depending on circumstances. The size and weight of your car or truck will have a lot to do with it.
Imaging being hit from behind while riding on a motorcycle. It’s going to be devastating at almost any speed. Because of this, lawmakers in several states are looking at permitting what is known as “lane-splitting” where motorcycles can ride or remain stopped at a traffic light in the area between lanes.
California passed a new law last week allowing the practice and other states including Florida are examining the issue.
By supporting the bill, state lawmakers and the governor have recognized a roadway practice that has been in use for decades, according to Rob Dingman, president of the American Motorcyclist Association. “Lane splitting keeps riders safer by eliminating their exposure to rear-end collisions, and it helps ease congestion by effectively removing motorcycles from the traffic lanes,” he said.
The website Change.org urged readers to sign a petition, writing “Traffic congestion in Florida continues to increase. One inexpensive, simple, effective, and immediate way to reduce traffic congestion is to permit motorcyclists to travel between two slow moving lanes of traffic. Doing so adds capacity to every existing four-lane road in the entire state of Florida. In California where “lane-splitting” is legal, common place, and has been found to enhance motorcycle safety, it is embraced as a significant component of traffic congestion reduction.”
People in Florida debated the use of helmets for years and finally on July 1st, 2000 the law was changed to mandate helmet use for anyone under 21, and anyone over 21 was required to have medical insurance coverage if they opted to ride without a helmet.
Hopefully the Florida legislature will study the lane-splitting issue carefully and make a decision that is best for everyone.
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus is committed to represent and protect the rights of persons injured in motorcycle accidents. We have devoted a major portion of our practice to this very unique and complex area of law for over 20 years and we would be happy to meet with you if you have any questions involving a serious motorcycle injury. Please reach out to us at 954-356-0006 to arrange a confidential consultation.
Most people have strong feelings about motorcycles and many rank riding one with skydiving, “There is no way I would ever do that. It’s too dangerous.”
But ask a motorcycle enthusiast, and they wouldn’t even think of traveling by any other means.
Everyone has opinions, but let’s look at the facts and the statistics.
The top two causes for motorcycle crashes are speeding and driver inattention. But in both cases it’s more often the other driver, not the motorcyclist.
Speeding is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents, because speeding drivers do not have time to slow down or react to vehicles around them, including motorcycles that may be difficult to see because of their size. Many motorcycle accidents involving speeding drivers result in serious or even fatal injuries, since motorcycles offer little or no protection to riders in the event of a crash.
In several studies motorcyclists have been rated as the most careful and courteous drivers on the road. Most people riding motorcycles exercise exceptional caution and are more alert than automobile drivers due to the basic instinct of self-preservation.
Driver inattention includes drivers who are preoccupied on their cell phones and therefore put motorcyclists in jeopardy, sometimes causing deadly accidents. A survey commissioned by AT&T found that seven in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving, mostly texting and emailing, although surfing the web, tweeting, video chatting, and posting to social media are also prevalent. About one in seven drivers admitted to being on Twitter while behind the wheel.
Driver inattention also includes lane changes, which are a top cause of motorcycle crashes. Automobile drivers simply do not take the time to check both rear-view mirrors before they move into another lane.
In 2013 motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled and five times more likely to be injured, according to NHTSA.
Of the 4,668 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2012, 94 percent (4,399) were riders and 6 percent (269) were passengers.
The bottom line is that the best way to save lives is to slow down, pay attention, and never text and drive at the same time. Look twice, save a life.
Lazarus and Lazarus has devoted a substantial portion of our legal practice to help the victims of motorcycle crashes. We understand the special circumstances involved and our knowledge of the law and motorcycle insurance issues is extensive. We are here to help victims get through any injury-related problems and we always do our best to see that every client receives the maximum compensation available and appropriate for their injuries, losses, and pain. Please call us if we can help – 954-356-0006 and ask for Gary or Arleen Lazarus.
Motorcycles are dangerous, there is little doubt about that. But some people shrug off the problem, thinking “it’s their fault for getting on those things in the first place.”
The truth is, the majority (60%) of 2-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles are the fault of the other driver, not the motorcyclist. The question is, what caused the driver of the car or truck to cause the crash?
A study of over 10 years of crash data from Florida roads revealed that dozens of motorcycle fatalities were directly attributed to texting by the drivers of the other vehicle. It’s unknown how many were caused by, but the investigations failed to find evidence of texting.
Traffic crash studies are finding higher rates of distracted driving as the cause for crashes. What are the types of distraction?
Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, and eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.
Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
As of April 27, 2016 a staggering 831 people have been killed on Florida roads. 154 were pedestrians, 37 were on bicycles, and the number of motorcyclists is not yet available.
What we do know is that Florida holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of motorcycle deaths in the nation. In Florida, 491 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2012, more than any other state. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for one out of every five traffic deaths in Florida in 2012. Many motorcycle riders are very safety conscious, but still suffer serious or fatal injuries in crashes caused by other motorists. Often other drivers simply fail to see a motorcyclist.
Laws are being passed across the country to ban texting, and other laws are on the books to require only hands-free operation for calls. There is also a device on the market – TextBuster – that installs in a car under the dashboard and is designed to block all data and text messages while the car is turned on.
Unfortunately, people ignore these laws and continue to cause mayhem on the road. It takes losing a friend or family member for some people to understand the danger of distracted driving.
There is Help
Motorcycle accidents are a special category of traffic crashes, and they require special expertise and experience to investigate. Injuries are usually severe and often fatal. Also, there are unique issues related to insurance when motorcycles are involved in serious crashes.
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been dealing with the pain and suffering experienced by victims of motorcycle accidents for over 20 years. We understand what happens and what is required to protect victim’s rights and see that they receive the medical treatment and compensation they deserve.
Call Gary and Arleen Lazarus at 954-356-0006 to arrange a confidential consultation.
Most people have an opinion on motorcycle safety but sometimes those opinions are based on personal experience or on what has been passed around as facts. Too often they are fallacies:
“Motorcycles are safe as long as you wear a helmet.” Or another one is “Loud pipes save lives.” There are many more.
Here are some facts right up front: In 2013 motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled and five times more likely to be injured, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2014, 62 percent of the people killed in motorcycle accidents were wearing helmets.
Helmet use of fatally injured motorcycle drivers and passengers, 2014:
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 2,484 62 1,420 35 131 3 4,035 100
Passenger 136 53 116 45 7 2 259 100
Total 2,620 60 1,536 36 139 3 4,295 100
Loud pipes don’t really save lives because the noise is most often going out the rear of the bike, or perhaps the side, and the motorcycle is moving away from it. The majority of threats to a motorcycle are coming from the front and an accident occurs before the other driver has a chance to hear anything. The Doppler Effect deals with the manner in which sound travels, and there are no solid facts supporting the belief that loud pipes saves lives.
Liability and Insurance
The Florida Legislature has not required motorcycle operators to obtain any insurance as a prerequisite to registering their vehicle. Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP” coverage is not legally necessary for any vehicle having less than 4 wheels. Yes, if the motorcycle is financed through a bank, the lending institution will probably require insurance coverage for theft and/or damage to the bike.
As a corollary to the 2000 repeal of the helmet law, should a rider decide to ride without a helmet, he must carry proof of $10,000.00 in medical insurance – literally a “drop in the bucket” should an accident occur. And while coverage for damage to property or injuries to third parties is not required, should the motorcycle operator be found at fault in an accident, they should expect a lawsuit which will threaten their personal assets.
Overall, there were 2,494 persons killed in vehicle crashes in Florida during the 2013 year. The population of Florida is approximately 20 million persons, so that translates to one in 8,000 Floridians dies in a vehicle accident each year.
Where Can You Turn for Help?
What happens when a person is involved in a serious car, truck, or on a motorcycle accident? Your life changes in many ways, much more than most people anticipate. There is a perception that the only reason the victim of a vehicle accident contacts an attorney is to “sue the other guy and get a big settlement.” That’s just not the primary concern for the Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus.
Gary and Arleen Lazarus are life-long south Florida residents and they have committed their law practice and their lives to helping improve the quality of life for people in their “hometown.” You can reach them by calling 954-356-0006 and asking for a consultation. Our first priority is to protect your rights and get you the help you need to deal with the aftermath of being in a serious accident.
Gary T. Lazarus was born in Queens, New York, on August 26, 1965. He received his Bachelor of Science from St. John's University in 1987 and received his Juris Doctorate from Nova Law School in 1990. In 1992, Gary founded this Personal Injury Firm, dedicated to the representation of persons injured due to the negligence of another.