Be Aware of COVID-19 statistics in your area
The number of people infected with COVID-19 and rate of spread varies greatly from area to area, and those statistics can change quickly. The goal in our communities at this point is to “flatten the curve,” meaning keeping COVID-19 infections to a minimum. To find the number of COVID cases in your area, click here.
Stay Informed About Local Ordinances and Safety Conditions
Even though there aren’t currently any stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, travel restrictions and business closures have become the new norm. States are constantly changing travel restrictions to keep up with the ebbs and flows of the pandemic. If you plan to cross state lines, be sure to check the most up-to-date limitations. If you want to ride into another county of the same state, we also suggest that you look up that county’s COVID-19 statistics.
Emptier Roads and Distracted Drivers
Even though the economy has opened up across the country, businesses that are still closed have eliminated some of the traffic on the streets. But accidents are still happening even on the open roads.
Now more than ever, be mindful of your following distance. Keep your eyes peeled for drivers who fail to use their turn signals, stop suddenly, yield through stop signs, run red lights and speed. Pay close attention even if there is little to no traffic. Maneuver through curves carefully just in case there are any unexpected turns or distracted oncoming drivers on the other side of the bend.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It’s a real challenge to keep your hands off of your face when riding. Bugs, airborne road debris, and even your facial hairs under your helmet create an urge to touch your nose, eyes and mouth. Whether it’s door handles, vending machines, gas pumps, keypads, always treat public surfaces as if they were contaminated. Imagine how many people have touched that gas pump in the past few hours. This is why it’s important to bring your own personal protective equipment (PPE) with you. At the very least, we suggest bringing a travel-size hand sanitizer on your excursions to help reduce your potential exposure to COVID-19. Washing and sanitizing your hands is one of the most important actions you can take to remain healthy.
Touching the gas pump with your riding gloves could contaminate your gloves, which could contaminate your gear and parts of your motorcycle. Another thing you could easily bring with you is latex gloves. Only touch the pump with one gloved hand and then toss it in the trash can.
Paying for the gas can get trickier. You can pay at the pump, but you have to be mindful of touching your card and the buttons on the touchpad with the same hand. If you walk into the gas station to pay for the gas, make sure you are wearing a mask—many places require that you wear one.
In order to keep us sane and riding, it’s more crucial than ever to do so safely.
Does COVID-19 Increase Motorcycle Accidents?
One would assume that motorcycle accidents decreased in number during the COVID-19 lockdown. However, that’s not the case, which makes this pandemic even more tragic. The warmth of the sun, the wind blowing, and all other feelings of freedom that come with riding can be thrilling, but COVID-19 has added extra risk for motorcycle enthusiasts. Here’s what you need to know:
Motorcycle Accidents Increased
In early May, Q-13 Fox in Olympia, Washington reported that while car accidents seem to have decreased in their area, fatal motorcycle accidents were increasing. Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s Mark Medalen said that Washington state had seen fatal motorcycle crashes on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday that particular week. He pointed out that the thrill and rush of riding a motorcycle is addictive. With cities locked down across the country due to the pandemic, people are looking for some excitement.
The rise in motorcycle accidents was happening before the motorcycle riding season truly kicked in, at the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. Stay-at-home orders were put in place state-by-state and extemporaneously starting mid-March, which should have slowed down tragic motorcycle accidents drastically, but it did not seem to decrease fatalities at all through March, April, and May. Let’s take a look at factors that may have increased motorcycle fatalities on the roads.
Which Factors Increased Motorcycle Fatalities?
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused people more stress, which leads to being distracted. Distracted driving translates to diminished focus and slows reaction time when making crucial and potentially life-altering decisions on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a banner on their website announcing that distracted driving claimed 2,841 American lives in vehicular crashes in 2018.
Science Direct published a study that concluded that the states which implemented strict bans on cell phone usage while driving reduced motorcycle fatalities by at least 11%. Additionally, the NHTSA published a report that stated 94% of traffic fatalities were caused by human error. If strict bans on cell phone usage decreased motorcycle fatalities and if most vehicle accidents are caused by human error, eliminating potential driving distractions would drastically lower the number of motorcycle fatalities on our roads.
On May 20th, Washington State Patrol’s Office of the Chief issued a formal announcement discussing the recent motorcycle fatalities in their state. Sadly, there were 12 fatal motorcycle accidents in April in Washington state. A common denominator in most of those accidents was speed. They discussed speeds in the “mid to upper 100s,” and one specific vehicle being clocked at an unbelievable 192 mph.
Washington is not the only state with this problem. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that emptier streets were encouraging alarming speed increases across the country. For example, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, and Utah police have reported vehicular speeds over 100 mph. On just one day, March 27th, New York City’s automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets. Minnesota reported that their vehicle accidents and fatalities had more than doubled when comparing the exact same time period from prior years. At speeds that high, the end result will almost always be, predictably, fatal for motorcyclists.
Driving While Impaired
Winsight Grocery Business published an article discussing the increase of alcohol sales during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the week ending May 9th, brick-and-mortar retail sales of alcohol increased 41% compared to a year ago at the same time and online sales inflated a colossal 339%. Drinking and driving is accountable for all types of vehicular accidents and it kills 30 people every single day in the U.S., according to the NHTSA.
While car accidents that involve alcohol are often deadly, motorcyclists have no protection from the impact of a car or truck driven by an intoxicated driver. Road Racerz released an infographic with motorcycle accident statistics with one bubble that states that in half of all fatal motorcycle accidents, alcohol is a factor. For a motorcyclist who is looking forward to a nice ride out in the wind during this pandemic, knowing that alcohol sales have skyrocketed recently should be enough to give pause.
There truly is nothing that compares to the freedom of hopping on your motorcycle and letting the wind take all your worries away. Unfortunately, that feeling can be ripped away in a heartbeat by another motorist who is distracted, intoxicated, or speeding. Motorcycle accident victims are left with devastating injuries and the emotional and financial burdens that come along with them, on top of the problems that the COVID-19 pandemic has already generated.
Victims and their families should not be left with the stress of navigating through a struggle like a motorcycle accident without legal assistance. Being injured in a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own is bad enough, you should not have to fight insurance companies, medical bills, and other stressors all by yourself. Give us a call so we can help you cope with your injuries and this pandemic at the same time.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Area Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.