Recent Rash of New Jersey Motorcycle Fatalities Highlights Dangers

motorcycle accidentOver the last 10 years for which statistics are complete, annual motorcyclist deaths in New Jersey have averaged 74 per year. Fatalities spike during the summer months, when good weather invites more riders onto the roadways. Six reported crashes last June illustrate the danger to riders:

  • June 4 — A man was killed in Bridgewater, when he lost control of his motorcycle and ran off the road near South Adamsville Road and Kirby Avenue just before 8 a.m.
  • June 25 — In the middle of the afternoon, two people traveling on a motorcycle were killed in an intersection collision at Welchville Road and Acton Station Road in Manning Township when the bike hit the passenger side of a car.
  • June 26 — A Hudson County man traveling east on Route 80 was killed when his motorcycle left the road and he hit a guardrail at 4:57 p.m.
  • June 26 — A 58-year-old Sussex County man was killed when his bike left the roadway and hit a guardrail on Ridge Road in Hardyston Township at about 6:41 p.m.
  • June 30 — A motorcycle rider was killed around 2 a.m. on the local southbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike in Leonia when his bike veered right into a guardrail.

The facts as reported demonstrate a few points that motorcycle riders may not be aware of, but that may help keep them safe.

First, a plurality of motorcycle fatalities result from single vehicle collisions with a fixed object after an operator loses control of the bike. Why does this happen? Alcohol consumption and excessive speed are frequent contributors to fatal crashes. Statistics show that about 25 percent of fatal bike crashes in New Jersey involve a rider with blood alcohol content in excess of the legal limit, 0.08 percent. Unsafe speed is a contributing factor in more than a third of fatal crashes. Rider fatigue is often a factor in accidents that occur late at night or in the early mornings. Of course, sometimes an unsafe maneuver by another vehicle can cause a biker to react and lose control. Such a crash goes onto the books as a single-vehicle accident, even though another motorist may have been at fault.

Visibility can also be a problem for motorcyclists. Some riders attempt to guard against sudden glare by wearing dark sunglasses even though they are not facing the sun, cutting down too much on their vision. At night riders may outrace their headlight, traveling so fast they don’t have enough time to react when the lamp finally reveals an obstacle. Motorcycles are more vulnerable than other drivers to debris in the roadway, potholes, and slick surfaces. The sooner a rider is aware of the obstacle, the better their opportunity to maneuver around it.

Finally, age can erode a biker’s skills. In New Jersey, riders older than 40 make up the largest group of bikers lost in fatal crashes each year. When people learn their reflexes are not what they used to be on the basketball court, they can usually limp to the sidelines. When that realization comes on I-95 at 65 miles per hour, the result is often tragic.

To stay safe while you ride in New Jersey, avoid alcohol, don’t ride when you’re tired, and travel at a speed that allows you time to spot and avoid obstacles. You will still have to contend with motorists who may not ae driving as carefully as they should, but you can improve your chances of arriving home safely.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey, consult an experienced personal injury attorney at Seigel Law as soon as possible. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free case evaluation.

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