How can motorcyclists avoid accidents when riding in West Virginia?

West Virginia motorcyclists who are involved in crashes may suffer serious injuries or death, but there are things they can do to help ensure their safety.

As the temperatures warm up across West Virginia, more and more people will hit the roads on their motorcycles. Unfortunately, however, motorcycle collisions are all too common in the state, and throughout the U.S. Such accidents often result in serious injuries or death for motorcyclists. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that an estimated 88,000 motorcyclists were injured and more than 4,600 were killed in the U.S. in 2013 alone. While some crashes involving motorcycles cannot be avoided, there are some things that motorcyclists can do to help ensure their safety.

Common causes of motorcycle accidents

Any number of factors may contribute to causing motorcycle collisions. The NHTSA points out that some of the most common causes of such accidents include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Not taking appropriate precautions
  • Lack of basic riding skills

Additionally, some such crashes may be caused because the drivers of other vehicles do not see the motorcycles that they are sharing the road with. In other cases, they may not be familiar with, or understand, the limitations of motorcycles and the differences in how they operate and maneuver. Consequently, drivers may not yield to motorcyclists when there are road hazards or other situations that force them to slow down or stop.

Hone riding skills before hitting the road

Before motorcyclists take their bikes out on the open road, it is recommended that they complete a rider education program. During such courses, they may learn how to maneuver and handle their vehicles. These types of education programs may also provide motorcyclists with strategies to help ensure their safety while riding, and point out hazards that they must be aware of.

Wear the right gear

Some may think that the gloves, pants and leather jackets that motorcyclists often wear are for looks. However, these types of protective apparel are helpful in protecting people from abrasions, cuts and other serious injuries if they are involved in a collision that knocks them off of their vehicles. It is also suggested that motorcyclists and their passengers always wear helmets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that helmets reduce motorcyclists' chances of being killed in an accident by 37 percent.

Ride defensively

Motorcycles may be difficult for some other drivers to see because of their small size, particularly those motorists who operate larger vehicles. In order to help ensure their safety, it is advisable that motorcyclists never assume that other drivers can see them. To this end, they should avoid traveling in the blind spots of other vehicles.

When riding, it is suggested that motorcyclists always ride with the intention of avoiding accidents. This includes always using their headlights, watching out for turning vehicles and signaling well in advance of any change in direction. The West Virginia Motorcycle Operator Manual recommends that motorcyclists ensure they have a plenty of space on all sides of their vehicles. This may help ensure that they have the room to maneuver and time to react to situations that may arise on the road.

Seeking legal guidance

When West Virginia motorcyclists are involved in accidents, they often suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment. As a result, they may incur unexpected medical expenses and lose income while they are recovering. If their accident was caused by the negligence of another motorist, however, that driver may be held responsible for their damages. Therefore, those who have suffered injuries in such situations may consider consulting with an attorney to understand their rights for pursuing financial compensation.