The Inattentive Driver: Motorcycle Accidents Spike in Alabama City

Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is seeing its fair share of motorcycle accidents lately, and many seem to stem from the actions of inattentive car drivers on the road.

As reported by the Times Daily, city police Lieutenant Mark Goins had to inform the wife of a good friend that her husband had died in a motorcycle crash (http://www.timesdaily.com/news/local/inattentiveness-by-motorists-a-factor-in-motorcycle-crashes/article_08d11cab-6016-5b87-8737-5bad83fdeaf0.html). That particular accident was the first of three serious motorcycle accidents in the span of several weeks in the area. Two of the accidents were fatalities, and in the third, the rider was seriously injured. In all three accidents, the cause was the same: a car driver had failed to yield to the motorcyclist.

Lauderdale County Chief Deputy Richard Rickey said that he was almost run off the road on his motorcycle when returning from a funeral of one of the riders killed. Rickey saw the car coming and was able to move out of the way in time, but the driver clearly didn’t see him.

In northwest Alabama, there have been five fatal accidents involving motorcycles so far this year, whereas there were only a total of three the year before. Statewide, 105 fatalities involved motorcyclists last year, and there have already been 46 this year. According to Johnathan Appling, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Public Information Officer, motorists’ failure to see motorcyclists in traffic is a major cause of crashes in the state, with 40 percent of the crashes this year so far involving a vehicle turning left in front of a motorcycle.

Chris Ticer, a police sergeant with Florence and part of that police department’s motorcycle crash-reduction unit, noted that people tend to look past motorcycles for some reason. Ticer himself was in a bad motorcycle accident that was caused by a driver who didn’t see him when he was on duty and responding to a call.

The habit of motorists looking past motorcyclists is called “inattentive blindness” by safety experts like Rick Randolph, who specializes in motorcycle training and safety. According to Randolph, it’s easy for motorcycle riders to become lost in traffic. There are also other distracted driving behaviors that can contribute to this lack of rider awareness, such using electronic devices or eating while driving. Even Randolph, with all his safe riding training knowledge, has been in two accidents on his bike himself. In both cases, the motorist involved simply didn’t see him. The problem is bad enough that some motorcyclists have taken to putting loud mufflers and LED lights onto their bikes to ensure they are seen and heard when out on the road.

A serious motorcycle accident can have devastating consequences for the rider, particularly because of the difference in size and driver protection between a motorcycle and a motor vehicle. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, speak to an experienced attorney as soon as you can about your case. The sooner you have legal representation on your side, the more prepared you will be to protect all of your rights.

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