Tips To Avoid Motorcycle Accidents In Illinois

motorcycle accidents

Many Illinois residents prefer to get around with a motorcycle in the spring and summer. After the snow melts and the weather warms, it is enjoyable to drive a motorcycle in the sun and enjoy the outdoors. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2016 in traffic accidents.

Common motorcycle accident injuries include:

  • Dislocated or broken bones
  • Road rash or severe lacerations
  • Crush injuries or amputations
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Sprains or strains

You can reduce your odds of getting in a motorcycle accident or being seriously injured. Details are provided below. If you were in a motorcycle accident and have injuries, please contact the experienced Hoffman Estates motorcycle accident attorneys at Claim Your Justice.

Illinois Motorcycle Laws

Riding safely in Illinois requires you to be aware of motorcycle laws:

  • Motorcyclists must possess a valid driver’s license to ride legally. Riding without a license is a severe violation. You need to be at least 18 and complete a written and road test to obtain your motorcycle license.
  • Register your motorcycle. The bike must be registered with the state.
  • You must follow all Illinois traffic laws when riding your motorcycle. Remember that having a license does not mean you can drive however you like. One of the most important laws is never driving after drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
  • Your motorcycle’s headlamp must always be on to increase visibility. Further, you must always have at least one hand on the handlebar.
  • Lane splitting is illegal in Illinois, and you cannot ride on one wheel.
  • Riding without a helmet is legal but highly discouraged. However, you must wear goggles or other eye protection when riding.

Motorcyclist Tips

If you are riding a motorcycle, these tips will help keep you safe:

Wear Your Helmet

Most states require at least some riders to wear a helmet. However, Illinois does not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet. As a result, many Illinois riders go without a helmet. That can be a fatal mistake.

Studies show that wearing a motorcycle helmet significantly decreases your chances of serious injury or death in an accident. The NHTSA also states that 37% of fatal motorcycle accidents could have been avoided if the driver wore a helmet. Additionally, for motorcycle passengers, CDC statistics show that 41% fewer would die if they had a helmet.

In Illinois, hundreds of motorcyclists could have lived if they had worn helmets during an accident. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports 635 fatal motorcycle accidents from 2007-2011. However, a study revealed that only 30% of riders wore helmets. So, approximately 210 motorcyclists could have lived in Illinois if they had worn helmets.

Wear Proper Motorcycle Gear

Sometimes motorcycle accidents are unavoidable. For example, one of the most common motorcycle crashes is when a car driver does not see you and pulls out. As a result, you may need to lay down your bike on the road. This can cause severe injuries, but it helps if you wear the right gear.

Motorcyclists should always wear helmets, long pants, sleeves, and boots. Ideally, your clothing should be made of leather or rugged denim. The helmet should adhere to the safety standards issued by the Department of Transportation. You also should wear leather gloves and eye protection.

Make no mistake: Wearing protective gear when riding can protect you from severe injuries, including brain damage, spine injuries, and broken bones. Also, wearing leather clothing can prevent road rash, which can also cause horrific injuries all over your body.

Have A License and Training

You must be fully licensed. It is also helpful to take a motorcycle riding course that teaches safe riding practices.

The NHTSA states that 30% of fatal motorcycle crashes involve an unlicensed rider. Therefore, if you have not ridden in years, taking a motorcycle refresher class is highly recommended to reinforce what you learned earlier.

Perform a Pre-Ride Check

It is always wise to check your bike before hitting the road. Walk around the motorcycle and inspect the critical parts. For example, the horn, lights, and turn signals should all work perfectly. Many studies show that having these parts working will prevent many accidents.

Next, check the belts, brakes, chains, and driveshaft. Always check the tread and tire pressure, too. Finally, the motorcycle should be equipped with anti-lock brakes. If you do not have them, get them installed right away. Anti-lock brakes prevent your wheels from locking during an emergency stop. They allow you to maintain control and avoid a collision or loss of control.

Maintain Your Motorcycle

Performing regular maintenance on your bike will keep you safe while riding Illinois or southern Wisconsin roads. The last thing you want to discover in an emergency is that your brakes do not work!

Never Assume Drivers Can See You

Many motorcycle crashes happen because the other driver does not see you. Motorcycles are much smaller than cars, and many drivers look for large vehicles, not motorcycles or bikes. Motorcycles also can be swallowed up in a vehicle’s blind spot easily.

Avoid many motorcycle accidents by never assuming other drivers see you. Stay out of blind spots and always wear reflective, brightly colored clothes.

Never Drink and Ride

Drinking and driving is deadly. On a motorcycle without a vehicle protecting you, it’s even more dangerous. The NHTSA reports that 28% of motorcyclists who died in 2017 were drunk. Never drink or take drugs before riding your motorcycle.

Do Not Split Lanes

Never share a lane with a car. This is dangerous for both you and the car driver. Also, it is illegal to split lanes in Illinois.

If you ever get in a motorcycle accident and decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, remember the statute of limitations is only two years. Waiting longer than two years means forfeiting your right to sue for damages.

Automobile Driver Tips

Auto drivers are often at fault for many motorcycle accidents. When you drive a car, you are responsible for looking out for motorcyclists and keeping them safe. Following these tips will help you avoid accidents with motorcyclists:

Increase Following Distances

When driving behind a motorcycle, increase your following distance. You should slow down behind the motorcycle to at least double your following space. A motorcyclist could suddenly brake or lose control, and the extra distance can help avoid a severe accident.

Never Tailgate

Tailgating can cause a rear-end crash. This is dangerous with a car, but a rear-end collision can kill a motorcyclist. This is even more true if the rider does not wear a helmet.

Know Your Position on the Road

A car, truck, or SUV is much heavier and more powerful than a motorcycle. Driving aggressively in a large vehicle is dangerous for everyone else on the road, especially motorcyclists and bikers. Be aware of your vehicle’s size and power, remembering you have a legal responsibility to motorcycle riders and other drivers to drive safely.

Obey Traffic Rules

Illinois has laws for all vehicle drivers to keep people safe. Following every road rule in Illinois will protect you, other drivers, and motorcyclists.
For example, you should always carefully check your blind spot when changing lanes; motorcyclists can hide there. Also, stop at all intersections and look both ways for motorcyclists and other drivers. Finally, always go the speed limit and maintain safe following distances.

Do Not ‘Zone Out’

After we drive for years, it is easy to become so used to driving that we almost ‘zone out’ behind the wheel. However, not paying attention to the road leads to many fatal accidents. For example, many motorcycle accidents happen because the auto driver does not see them. You are responsible for always looking out for other motorists, whether in a car or on a bike.

Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings when you get behind the wheel. This includes looking out for motorcyclists, bikers, and pedestrians. Also, never be distracted by a cell phone or anything else when driving. You can be prosecuted and sued for texting and driving, so put away your cell phone before driving.

Contact A Schaumburg Motorcycle Accident Attorney Now

You probably will have severe injuries if you were in a motorcycle accident. It can take months or years to recover from a motorcycle accident, and you will need ample funds for the best recovery possible.

Our Schaumburg, IL, motorcycle accident attorneys possess more than 50 years of combined experience obtaining favorable outcomes for personal injury clients. We have collected millions of dollars in recoveries, settlements, and verdicts for our clients in Illinois and Wisconsin. Our attorneys also represent clients in auto accidents, slip & fall incidents, dog bites, and wrongful death.

Our personal injury attorneys serve the greater Chicago area and southern Wisconsin area, including the communities of Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Grove Village, Hanover Park, Arlington Heights, Oak Brook, and Streamwood. Please contact Claim Your Justice today at 847-434-3555 for a complimentary consultation.

How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents in Chicago?

accidents in Chicago

Motorcycles aren’t just for transportation. For many, they are a way of life, a culture, or a symbol of independence and freedom. This is especially true in Illinois, a state that has the sixth most registered motorcycle registrations in the country. In addition, the cost of gas is a fraction of driving a car.

But unlike many recreational or fun vehicles, motorcycles have to share the road, and the rules of the road, with cars and trucks. Because of that, motorcycle accidents in Chicago can be very common. When these incidents do happen, the injuries suffered can be even more devastating than car accidents.

Motorcycle Accidents in Chicago: Common, and Often Fatal

The news about Chicago motorcycle accidents is often tragic and speaks to the very high degree of injury that people in motorcycle injuries suffer. Stories abound of riders killed in suburban areas, on Chicago’s highways, as well as injuries and deaths to passengers in motorcycles.

The best way to understand how common motorcycle accidents are in Chicago is by looking at statistics from all of Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2018, although motorcycle accidents made up fewer than 1 percent (2,973 accidents) of all accidents on the roads, they made up 12% of all fatal crashes. That is a large disparity, which speaks to how devastating motorcycle accidents can be.

National statistics bear the same result. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2019 calculated that motorcycle riders were 29 times more likely to die, on a per-mile traveled basis than drivers or passengers in car accidents. A 2016 study also showed that motorcyclists were 28 times more likely than those in cars to be killed in accidents.

Despite more public awareness of motorcycle safety, nationally, motorcycle injury and death rates have generally remained consistent. In 2019, about 975 motorcyclists per 100,000 registered cycles were injured, and 58 per 100,000 were killed.

Where Do Motorcycle Accidents Happen and Who Gets in Accidents?

Although being on side streets would seem to be safer, in fact, they are not. According to State of Illinois statistics, more motorcyclists were killed on city streets and roadways, than were killed on larger highways. Age doesn’t seem to make a difference; about the same number of Illinois motorcyclists were killed who were over the age of 45, as were killed under the age of 45.

Larger motorcycles, which likely are used on busier highways, contributed to a much higher percentage of fatalities. Of all fatal accidents, motorcycles with over 150 cc motors were involved in 149 deaths. Those with under 150 ccs, contributed to only 7 deaths in 2018.

Just like with cars, alcohol plays a factor in motorcycle accidents as well. About 38% of victims in fatal Illinois motorcycle accidents tested had a blood-alcohol level of .01 or higher. The statistics for non-fatal injuries are just as serious. In 2018, nearly 800 people were injured in motorcycle injuries in Illinois

Motorcyclists may have a reputation for being daredevils who drive recklessly, but the statistics don’t bear this out at all. In fact, the majority of motorcycle crashes, 1,638, occurred when motorcyclists were simply driving straight.

Motorcycle accidents are caused by things that can include factors the driver can control, as well as those the driver cannot. For example, “loss of control” is cited by the state as a major factor contributing to motorcycle accidents. Loss of control could include a reckless or inexperienced driver, but could also involve poor weather conditions, or another negligent driver causing the motorcyclist to lose control,

Why Are Motorcycle Accidents So Dangerous?

The severity of motorcycle accidents, and the disproportionate number of deaths that occur in these accidents, are likely explained by obvious factors.

Motorcycles do not have the heavy sheath of metal protection that a traditional vehicle has. Weight disparity between a motorcycle and a car contributes to the severity of injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents. A minor accident, such as a “fender bender” between two cars, can be a major impact collision when it is between a car and a motorcycle.

A motorcycle driver is more likely to be thrown from a vehicle in an accident. This makes injuries such as lacerations, abrasions, amputations, burns, traumatic brain injury, or paralysis, much more common than they are for those occupants inside of cars or trucks.

Motorcycles tend to be less visible to other vehicles, and less stable than traditional cars. Reduced visibility means that maneuvers such as avoiding debris on the road, or trying to swerve from an oncoming negligent driver, can lead to a deadly accident. Compared to the same situation whereas there may be no injuries at all in the same situation if the accident was between two cars.

Protective Gear, Helmets, and Motorcycle Safety Laws

Sadly, many drivers do not wear protective equipment, such as helmets, when on a motorcycle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Authority predicted that almost 2,000 people were saved in motorcycle accidents because they wore their helmets in 2017. Between 37 and 41 people per 100 riders could be saved in otherwise fatal motorcycle accidents, had they been wearing a helmet.

Despite these figures, there is currently no law in Chicago or Illinois that requires that a motorcycle driver wears a helmet (only Illinois, New Hampshire, and Iowa have no mandatory helmet laws). Illinois used to have a helmet law, but it was declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Should you (smartly) opt to wear a helmet, remember that because Illinois has no helmet law, there are also no laws setting standards for motorcycle helmets. Make sure that whatever helmet you wear, is accredited by a safety board or organization.

The law requires that operators wear glasses or goggles on their eyes or be protected by a windshield. Goggles must protect both the front and the sides of the drivers’ eyes.

The same law applies to passengers or riders other than the driver. Passengers must have separate passenger seats that have footrests, and passengers must straddle the bike unless seated in a sidecar.

Additional laws are in line with common-sense safety measures, such as making it illegal to ride on one wheel, and mandating that the driver’s hands be on the motorcycle. Hand grips must be at, or below, the head of the driver. These are just Illinois requirements. Federal laws place other requirements, usually on standards for the making of cycles, or safety features on them.

If you are a new motorcycle rider, consider getting training courses, many of which are offered by the State of Illinois. Motorcycle training courses in Illinois teach riders how to operate both two and three-wheel cycles. The state even offers courses geared towards experienced, trained riders.

Finally, remember that “loud pipes, save lives.”

Suing For Motorcycle Accident Injuries in Chicago

An accident involving a motorcycle works just the way a car versus car or car versus truck accident would. Our motorcycle accident lawyers can sue a car driver if the driver’s negligence caused an accident. However, the main difference between a car versus car case, and one that involves a motorcycle, comes in the number of available defenses that someone can use when trying to avoid responsibility for a motorcycle accident.

There is no legal bar to suing a negligent driver, just because you, as a motorcycle operator, did not wear a helmet. But just because the law doesn’t require that a motorcycle occupant wear a helmet, doesn’t mean that a jury cannot or will not find you contributorily negligent for not wearing one. Often, when a motorcyclist sues after a motorcycle accident, the other side will try to use the failure to wear a helmet as a defense, arguing that the failure was a contributing cause of the motorcyclist’s injuries.

Motorcyclists also have to be aware of the inherent stigma against them, fair or not: That there is a reputation or feeling in the general public that Motorcyclists are reckless. This is a prejudice that many jurors hearing motorcycle injury cases bring with them into the courtroom. Our motorcycle injury lawyer can help you overcome that stereotype, and point out that you, like many other riders, operate your motorcycle safely when you are on the Chicago roadways.

Apportionment of Liability in Motorcycle Accident Cases

Remember that whenever a negligent car driver tries to claim that you, as a motorcyclist, caused your own injuries by not wearing a helmet, or by being inexperienced, or by being reckless, a jury can apportion liability between you and the negligent driver. If a jury thinks that you, as the victim, were 51 percent or more responsible for your injuries, Illinois’ comparative negligence statute prevents you from recovering any damages at all.

That’s why it is so important to call our aggressive and experienced Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers.

Motorcycle accidents injuries can be serious, and catastrophic. To learn more about your rights if you are in an accident, call our Schaumburg, IL motorcycle accident attorneys at Claim Your Justice to schedule a free consultation at 847-434-3555.