Too many motorcycle accidents happen in Maine this time of year
In Maine, May is for motorcycles. The days are longer, the air is warmer, and the roads are free of snow and ice. While Maine motorcycle enthusiasts take their bikes out for the new season, it's also a good time to stress the importance of looking out for and sharing the road with motorcyclists.
Negligent drivers frequently cause motorcycle accidents, and it only takes one to cause a crash that changes your life forever. Recently here in Maine, there were fatal motorcycle accidents on I-295 in Portland and another in Hancock County on Airline Road in Township 22.
Motorcycle crash facts
- In Maine, motorcycle deaths have been on the rise since 2017.
- Motorcycle accidents can happen anywhere, but some counties see more crashes than others. On average, Cumberland County, York County, and Androscoggin County report the most motorcycle accidents per year.
- High gas prices increase motorcycle ridership as people try to save money by driving smaller vehicles. That means there are more motorcyclists on the road, and drivers need to use extra caution to avoid causing a collision.
- Impaired driving is a growing concern for Maine public safety officials. They say the prevalence of illicit drugs, like opiates, and the legalization of marijuana may lead to more impaired drivers on the road.
How to avoid a collision with a motorcycle
It's important to share the road with all users, including motorcyclists. Here are some ways you can help avoid causing a motorcycle crash:
- Always check your blind spots. Motorcycles can be hard to see, and their small size makes their speed difficult to gauge. Err on the side of caution and check twice for motorcycles at intersections, when merging, or changing lanes.
- Use caution when making left-hand turns. This is one of the most dangerous scenarios for motorcyclists, as about half of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle making a left-hand turn before the crash. Again, check your blind spots, yield to oncoming motorcyclists as you would any other vehicle, and ensure it's safe to turn before you do so.
- Pass with caution. Passing a car is not the same as passing a bike. If done too closely, the gust from an accelerating vehicle could destabilize a motorcycle. When passing, you must wait until you can safely maneuver. Make sure you are several car lengths ahead of a motorcycle before returning to your lane.
- Maintain distance. If you are driving behind a motorcycle, provide adequate space for a sudden stop. Rear-ending a bike can be fatal for the rider.
- Turn off your high beams. Flip off the high beams if you see a motorcyclist in the opposite lane. The brightness is disorienting.
- Use your turn signal. This is a good idea in any situation, but it is particularly important when maneuvering among smaller vehicles.
Tips for riders
Here are some safety tips for motorcyclists at all riding levels:
- Check the weather. You know how it is in New England; the weather can change in an instant. Check the forecast before you head out on a ride to avoid getting caught in a storm or strong wind.
- Inspect your bike before you ride. This is true even for a short trip. It doesn't matter if you're driving 5 minutes or an hour - a faulty part, low fluids, worn tires, or another defect could cause you to crash if you don't address the problem. So, before each ride, check your tires, fluids, lighting, turn signals, clutch and throttle, mirrors, chains, and brakes.
- Wear a helmet. Helmets save lives. In Maine, you are required to wear a helmet if you are under 18, using a learner's permit to drive, or are within one year of completing a driving test. Passengers must wear helmets if they are under 18 years old or if the driver is required to wear one.
Unfortunately, there's only so much you can do to protect yourself while riding a motorcycle. Your safety largely lies in the hands of other drivers on the road, and it only takes one negligent motorist to cause a motorcycle accident that leaves you with severe injuries. Fortunately, you do have recourse through the civil justice system—and a motorcycle accident attorney can help you navigate the process.
Talk to a motorcycle accident lawyer about your legal options
If you were injured or a loved one died in a Maine motorcycle accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, replacement services, pain and suffering). The problem is a lot of insurance companies paint motorcycle riders with a wide brush and use stereotypes about bikers to purposefully delay, dispute, and deny valid claims.
At the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, we reject insurance company attempts to pay you less and know how to fight for the compensation you actually deserve. We are Maine lawyers who work for Maine people, and we know what it takes to build a winning motorcycle accident case here.