Whether you’re out and about or seeking to beat the heat in your air-conditioned home, motorcycles are out, loud and proud; you’ve heard them, no doubt. While some of us may find them annoying, the thrill of biking in the nice weather appeals to many. However, as with motor vehicles, if not more so, with great horsepower comes great responsibility.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents in 2015. Although many might assume that these injuries are brought on by the carelessness of the cyclists, most people don’t consider the impact other drivers have on the safety of those smaller vehicles that share a highway.
The NHTSA website states that it is important for operators of cars, trucks, etc, “…to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists such as size and visibility, and motorcycle riding practices like downshifting and weaving to know how to anticipate and respond to them.” Being educated will increase the safety of drivers and cyclists alike.
For those with the motorcycles, it’s important to be an expert in “Cycle Safety” to ensure that destinations are reached safely by all. The very first step is to become properly licensed.
Since driving a car and riding a motorcycle require different training, all states require a motorcycle supplement to an existing driver’s license. Those who are hopeful to operate a motorcycle must be able to show that they come armed with the proper skills and knowledge.
In New Hampshire, after a vision test, hopeful riders must prove their fitness to operate a motorcycle by either completing a Basic Rider Class (mandatory for applicants under 18, along with a completed parental permission form), or by passing the DMV motorcycle skills test.
Although the Basic Rider Class is not mandatory in our state for of-age riders, it is highly encouraged. Not only does completing this course exempt the rider from having to take the DMV skills test, but it also provides valuable knowledge and skills such as defensive riding strategies, safety, and basic crash avoidance techniques, things that, second to a helmet, will make all the difference in motorcycle travel safety.
The old saying, “Practice makes perfect,” is especially true when it comes to riding a motorcycle. The NHSTA website promotes taking the time to get used to the way each individual motorcycle operates before taking it out onto the road or highway. By doing this, the rider will be confident in his or her ability to handle it through all sorts of conditions. Checking the bike before every ride is essential as well to make sure that it is safe enough to ride from point A to point B.
Should the worst occur and a rider should find him or herself in an accident, the following are the recommended steps to be taken, according to leading New Hampshire motorcycle accident attorney, John Sherman.
First and foremost, the police department or 911 should be contacted. Police will take necessary information to file a report which will be necessary for an insurance claim, and this information will also be helpful in court, should a personal injury lawsuit become necessary.
Medical treatment should be sought in a timely manner, even if injuries are considered minor. Internal injuries and concussions are not always immediately apparent, so it is imperative that all involved in any crash be evaluated immediately. During evaluation, any injuries sustained will be documented, and that documentation can be useful should there be any litigations.
It is important not to admit fault directly in the event of an accident. This does not mean being untruthful, but jeopardizing your case can be kept to a minimum by staying neutral at the scene of an accident.
It is also important to document everything in the event of an accident, including the contact and insurance information of the other driver, pictures of any damage to the motorcycle, and making notes of any witnesses including their names and contact information.
As soon as possible, your insurance company should be notified of the accident so that they can begin the claims process. It is encouraged that riders avoid speaking with representatives from the other driver’s insurance company until they have discussed the matter with an attorney, who riders are also encouraged to contact as soon as possible, as they will be able to provide clear answers on how they should proceed in a case by case situation.
New Hampshire is a “Fault State,” meaning that if a rider has been in an accident, there are three options available when it comes to filing a claim. First, a rider can file with his or her insurance company, second, with the other driver’s insurance company, and third, a lawsuit can be filed against the other driver.
New Hampshire also follows the 51 percent Bar Rule, meaning that a damaged party cannot recover losses if they are damaged 51 percent or more at fault, and can recover if they were 50 percent or less at fault, but recovery is reduced by its degree of fault.
Motorcycle Insurance is not a requirement in the state initially, and is only mandatory under the following conditions: involvement in an accident, conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, multiple reckless driving convictions, or a traffic violation conviction that triggers review. Although it is not a requirement, it is encouraged so that in the event of an accident riders are covered.
For more information on motorcycle safety and regulations, visit nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles and www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/driver-licensing/motorcycle .