Motorcycles are inherently dangerous for two main reasons. First, their two-wheeled base makes them very unstable. A slippery surface, road hazard, or a momentary lapse in concentration can lead to loss of control and send a bike and rider tumbling across the pavement since these vehicles lack stability as a built-in quality, but rather depend on the rider to stay upright. Second, the lack of a passenger cage with seat belts means that once a motorcycle crashes, the flesh and bone of the rider is at the mercy of the asphalt and other vehicles speeding toward the point of the crash in either direction.
While most motorcyclists are safety minded, conscientious inhabitants of the roadways, either commuting to work or enjoying the wind on a sunny day, some inevitably will pose a risk to themselves and others by pushing the ride to the limits of safety.
Types of Motorcycles
There are four main classifications of motorcycles on the roadway: cruiser—embodied by Harley Davidson motorcycles; dual purpose—with knobby tires and high suspensions, these bikes are rideable on pavement or off-road; standard—exemplified by many European makers, the rider sits in an upright position; and sport bikes—built for speed, the rider operates the vehicle in a radical, forward – leaning position with head and shoulders ahead of feet.
Of the four, sport bikes stand out for being responsible for an inordinately high percentage of traffic crashes, and are also known by other colloquial names such as “race rockets.” These bikes are capable of outperforming even the most skilled riders, and accidents involving this type of bike often arise from a rider pushing the frontiers of riding skill beyond manageable limits.
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Sport bikes are extremely fast, both in terms of top end speed and acceleration. With unforgiving velocity, many common sport bikes are capable of going from zero to 60 in little over three seconds. The suspension is geared toward race handling and these vehicles are capable of taking very tight corners at high speeds, which requires the rider to shift body weight and lean the bike to extreme angles.
An unfortunate by product of the performance capabilities of these machines is that they are also capable of performing dangerous stunts Often, thrill seekers ride in groups, performing dangerous maneuvers on public roadways among other motorists, sometimes wearing helmet cameras to capture footage of the exploits.
A wheelie is perhaps the most common stunt maneuver. The rider uses acceleration along with a backward lean to shift the weight of the bike and lift the front end. The rider then rides on the rear wheel only. A skilled rider can travel very long distances in this manner. A front wheelie is also a prevalent maneuver commonly executed by stunt bikers, but is much more limited in terms of time and distance. To perform a front wheelie, the rider uses the front brake to decelerate in abrupt fashion and shifts body weight off the foot pegs and onto the handlebars, allowing the rear end to rise up pursuant to Newton’s First Law while the vehicle decelerates.
While speeding is not necessarily a stunt, it is commonly practiced by some riders. Sport bikes often ride in excess of 100 miles per hour on interstate highways, greatly increasing the chance of accident. Extreme speeds severely limit the time a rider has in which to respond to a hazard on the pavement. Road debris, animals, and unpredictable drivers of passenger cars can emerge as obstacles in an instant, and require a speeding motorcycle to react quickly in order to avoid a crash.
Putting Others at Risk
While the brunt of the danger is borne by the rider of the motorcycle and passenger if any, the danger is not limited to the occupants of the motorcycles. Once a motorcycle collides with a passenger car, that car can lose control, itself, and cause secondary crashes involving third and subsequent vehicles. Accidents involving any vehicle often cause a domino effect in which one out-of-control vehicle causes another to lose control, and so forth. The most common example of an accident that extends beyond the original, culpable vehicle is a pile-up. Once a bike loses control, it becomes a projectile (sport bikes usually weigh between 350 and 550 pounds) capable of causing damage and personal injury to any and all others on and near the roadway including pedestrians and occupants of storefronts adjacent to the roadway.
Blame Going in the Right Direction
Motorcycles of all types are fuel efficient vehicles that provide a reasonable alternative to passenger cars for commuters since they involve much lower costs to own and operate. Since a motorcycle is an inanimate object, it is incapable of causing dangerous conditions or accidents on its own. It is not the machine, itself, but the rider of the motorcycle that makes a conscious choice to ride the vehicle in such a fashion as to create risk of property damage, great bodily harm, or death for any and all vehicles sharing the roadway. Also, reckless riding can be performed by riders on all classes of bikes, and not just sport bikes.
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Criminal law describes requisite mental states necessary for the commission of certain crimes. While most motorcyclists never intend to harm anyone at all during the course of a ride, those same riders sometimes possess the mental state of recklessness, which is characterized by a disregard for the safety of others by virtue of acting in such a manner that the actor knows is likely to create great danger. When accidents result, that choice made by others to act recklessly affects you.
If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or property damage caused by a motorcycle crash, you need experienced legal representation to receive just compensation for your harm. Insurance companies will pay out the least possible dollar amount to settle a case and request recovering parties to release them from any further claims. These claims often underpay injured, not-at-fault parties for the full amount of damages. Legal representation can maximize the settlement and help you recover from injuries and replace property. Call the experienced accident attorney at the Law Offices of Roger Ghai, P.C. for a confidential consultation.