Each spring promises an increase in motorcycles on Alberta’s roadways. The month of May is deemed Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. It is not only a time for motorcyclists to educate and remind themselves on how to operate their vehicles safely, but also a time for all motorists, including car and truck drivers, to be aware of motorcycles out on Alberta’s roads and keep them out of harm’s way.
According to the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society, there were 21 motorcycle fatalities in 2020 in Alberta (an increase of 90%). In 2019, there were only 11 motorcycle fatalities. The statistics indicate that 70% of these motorcycle fatalities were single-vehicle crashes in 2020.
Late last month, a head-on collision occurred on Highway 1A west of Cochrane between two motorcyclists resulting in the death of two men at the scene. Another motorcyclist was also injured in an effort to steer clear of the crash.
As the Calgary Police Service began their annual training for Motorcycle Safety Month, Traffic Section Sgt. Dale Seddon stated:
We want everyone to be able to safely enjoy their motorcycles this summer. As a rider, you are much more vulnerable to the consequences of poor decisions, be that of other drivers or unsafe riding practices. Whether a collision is caused by the driver of another vehicle, road conditions, or a mistake on the rider’s part, at the end of the day it is often the rider and their family that pay the most significant price.
SAFETY CONCERNS FOR MOTORCYCLISTS
Riding a motorcycle is accompanied by thrill and excitement, but it also comes with great risk to the rider’s safety. Operating a motorcycle is inherently dangerous given the lack of protection, high speed and increased likelihood for loss of control and collision.
Motorcycle accidents often cause more severe injuries than an accident in a motor vehicle because the motorcyclist does not have the protection of the car body.
Statistics show that a disproportionately high number of catastrophic injuries are sustained by motorcyclists, such as brain damage, broken bones, paralysis and death.
Motorcyclists are afforded the same rights and freedoms as other motor vehicle drivers and are entitled to the same room to ride safely. They must also follow all of the same rules of the road in order to maintain safety while riding. The safety of motorcyclists is not only the concern of riders, but also the responsibility of car and truck drivers.
WAYS THAT DRIVERS CAN HELP KEEP MOTORCYCLISTS SAFE ON THE ROAD
As the warmer weather arrives, it is important for all drivers to be aware that motorcyclists will be making their appearance on roads and highways. The following safety tips are recommended to car and truck drivers in order to avoid a collision with a motorcycle:
- Treat motorcycles the same as any other vehicle on the road: Although motorcycles do not take up as much lane space, they should be treated like all other vehicles and allowed plenty of lane space.
- Drivers should keep their cell phones out of reach while driving to eliminate distractions.
- Drivers should only drive when they are sober and alert.
- Always double-check your blind spots: Use your turn signal and double check to ensure the lane is clear before changing lanes.
- Always leave room: Motorcycles and cars require the same stopping distances. In unfavourable conditions, quick stops may be difficult for both types of drivers.
- Be cautious before pulling in front of motorcycles: Motorcycles may appear farther away due to their smaller size. They may also be hidden behind larger vehicles.
- Change lanes to allow for merging motorcycles.
- Educate young and inexperienced drivers about being aware of the presence of motorcycles on roadways.
- Use extra caution when opening the door of a parked car, especially in areas with heavy traffic. It is important to always look behind the car before opening a door.
- Use extra caution in areas with road construction. A small change in the grade of a road or a sudden stop can be dangerous to a motorcyclist.
WHO CAN BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT?
If a motorcyclist has suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, that individual is entitled to recover compensation from the negligent party.
In order to receive compensation following an accident with another vehicle, you must be able to establish negligence. You must be able to prove that the driver of another vehicle behaved in a way that was a departure from how a reasonable person would be expected to act in similar circumstances (ie. careless or reckless) and caused the accident.
An injured motorcyclist may be able to hold the following parties responsible for the accident, such as:
- Other drivers involved in the accident;
- The provincial or municipal government for poor road maintenance or design; and/or
- The motorcycle manufacturer for defective vehicle design or manufacture.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, the personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP have many years of experience successfully handling claims for those victims injured through the fault of others. Please contact the award winning and experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or at 403-571-0555. We will review your case to determine the best approach to take and how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Call our office today for a free consultation.