Fall is here. The leaves are just starting to change and we had our first rainy day in a long time. The days are still warm and inviting to riders to get out and enjoy a nice ride, but with autumn comes new hazards to motorcyclists. Obviously, wet leaves, slippery roads and objects or potholes hidden by fallen leaves are a danger to us. But, something we don’t necessarily consider is the change in lighting conditions. As the days get shorter riders should be aware that low light presents an additional hazard. Not only are bikers harder to see but we will have a more difficult time seeing potential hazards in or on the road ahead. For those of us who love taking a ride after work to wind down please be particularly mindful of this since we probably do not realize how dim the lighting actually is or how quickly it gets dimmer.

The best option is to ride more slowly than you would in bright daylight. This will give you more time to see and identify potential hazards and will give other drivers a greater opportunity to see and identify you. You also will give yourself more time to react should something happen.   Remind yourself before you ride of the change in daylight conditions and adjust your driving accordingly. If you are unfamiliar with the road ahead, or if you know there are curves or hills coming up, reduce your speed so you can clearly identify any hazards common in autumn and low light conditions and give yourself plenty of time to avoid them.

You might also consider wearing more visible clothing and helmets. I understand that white helmets are much more visible than black and a lime green or orange reflective jacket will make you much more apparent to other drivers.

Finally, remember that the sun rises later and sets earlier than it has the last few months. As the sun gets lower in the sky all drivers have problems with sun glare. Be particularly alert for this in the mornings and evenings as you and the vehicles around you may suddenly round a curve and find yourself looking directly into the sun. Drivers react differently to this sudden blinding glare and you want to be sure to give yourself extra room to maneuver should someone hit their brakes or unexpectedly swerve out of their lane of travel due to the blinding sun.

A great reason to live in this area is the change of seasons, but with each new season comes new hazards to contend with. Please add some of these thoughts to your pre-ride mental checklist and be safe.  If you have have any questions, please contact us at Stark & Stark.

Harley-Davidson is recalling thousands of motorcycles because a faulty ignition switch can cause bikes to stall and crash. Harley has determined that modifications that allow engines to rev above 5,600 RPMs can cause engine vibration that can turn the ignition switch from “on” to “accessory.” When that happens the engine can shut off while being driven and potentially cause a crash. Bikes that have experienced this vibration have so far been identified to have some after market modifications that allow the engine to rev higher than Harley typically tests in the factory.

The recall affects more than 3,360 FXDL Dyna Low Rider motorcycles. Harley Davidson has said no crashes have occurred but they are obviously concerned that accidents may happen and are sensitive to the ignition problems General Motors and Chrysler have experienced.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) said this is the second recall Harley-Davidson has had to make this year. In July the manufacturer recalled more than 66,400 Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles from the 2014 model year to repair problems that could cause the front wheels to lock up and crash. To see a list of these, click here. If you have been injured on a motorcycle contact Stark & Stark Riders Lawyers today.

I represent many motorcyclists who have been in crashes. Some more serious than others. I’ve been fortunate that, while I’ve had close calls (close enough that my wife won’t get on again), I have not crashed. So I don’t personally know how I’d feel but I’m sure there must be some fear in everyone before they go out for those first few post-accident rides. I found an article on this topic that seems to me to make sense and provide sound advice at RideApart.com.

The author takes us through a number of steps of analysis to help us logically deal with this emotional issue.

  1. Check your helmet and gear. Helmets are designed to absorb the impact. If your helmet hit the ground you should replace it. Likewise, if your helmet falls off a table and strikes the floor, you should replace it. You may not see internal damage, but I recommend you assume that it absorbed the impact and should be replaced. Your other protective gear should also be checked.
  2. Check your bike thoroughly. I recommend you have a reputable service technician evaluate your motorcycle completely. You might not notice a subtle but important problem such as a bent fork or frame.
  3. Assume that you will be nervous for your first ride after a crash. Everyone would be. It is recommended that you plan a short, simple ride when there is little traffic and basic conditions. Many of my clients have great difficulty driving past the scene of their accidents so I recommend you stay clear of that area until you are sure you are emotionally ready. It may be best to take this ride alone but if you ride with a friend be sure your friend knows you are a bit nervous and ask him to follow you or drive more slowly and carefully so you don’t feel pressure to keep up.  Try to enjoy the ride, relax and get back into your comfort zone.
  4. Practice at your own pace and in areas you feel comfortable. Depending on the severity of the crash it may take some time for you to feel comfortable riding again.

 

Perhaps if you follow this advice your return to the road will be a bit easier and more enjoyable. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Stark & Stark today.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that reaffirms Congress’ intention to continue to prohibit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) from lobbying state legislators on issues involving motorcycle safety. 

The ban, which has existed since 1995, prevents NHSTA from using tax dollars to try to convince states to adopt regulations upon motorcyclists including mandatory motorcycle helmet laws.

Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations said, “Lifting the ban on NHSTA lobbying would have given Washington bureaucrats free rein to spend taxpayer money to lobby states and legislators to create laws that infringe on our rights as motorcyclists.” See story here.

The U.S. Senate is considering a similar version of the bill. According to the article the AMA believes adults should have the right to choose whether to wear a helmet or not.

The 23rd Annual International Motorcycle & Scooter Ride to Work Day is June 16, 2014. Ride to Work Day was started in 1992 as a way to raise awareness of the benefits of motorcycling as an alternative mode of transportation. Since 2008 it has been held on the third Monday in June. According to www.ridetowork.org  and the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus and other sources, over one million American commuters ride to work that day to publicize the social benefits of motorcycles.

Ride to Work Day is also run in many other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Slovenia, Israel, Turkey, Ecuador and the Phillipines.

The purpose of the Day is to raise awareness among the public, government and employers of the positive value of using motorcycles and scooters as a regular form of transportation. There are many positive public benefits of riding.

 

–        Reduces traffic and parking congestion

–        Consumes far less resources per mile than most other automobiles

–        Results in less pollution than commuting in a larger vehicle

–        Is less destructive to road surfaces and bridges

–        Allows commuters to get to work (and back home) faster

–        Helps make people more alert and engaged

–        Demonstrates motorcycling as a social good

You can join the United States Congress members of the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus, as well as hundreds of other communities and organizations, along with millions of motorcyclists worldwide in support of Ride to Work Day. Visit the The Ride to Work website www.ridetowork.org for more information.

 

Not too long ago I represented a man who was injured while riding in a group. The group had just left the local motorcycle dealer and as happens the bikes started off at varying speeds, spread apart and then contracted or bunched up unexpectedly. The bike behind my client clipped his rear wheel, caused him to crash and he was then struck by another motorcycle while he lay in the roadway. Group riding can be fun but this client was seriously injured.

With riding season upon us I thought this topic was worthy of some discussion. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation website has some tips for group riding that are worth a few minutes of your time. If you are planning a group ride I recommend you refresh your memory here.

Be prepared for the ride and remember to give yourself extra time before the start time of your ride and have a full tank of gas.

Before you set out together have a group meeting. Discuss the route you intend to take, where you will stop to rest or get fuel, and know the hand signals that will be used.

Assign a lead rider and the tail or sweep rider. Both should be among your more experienced riders who know and understand group riding well. The leader should be aware of everyone’s riding skill level and the general riding style of the group.

Keep the group to a manageable number. The ideal number seems to be five to seven.

Be prepared and be sure someone has a cell phone, a first-aid kit and tool kit.

Ride in formation and allow proper spacing between bikes so each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards such as potholes, dead animals, and other bikes who may make a sudden unexpected maneuver. The lead rider rides in the left one third of the lane, the next rider rides in the right one third about 1 second behind, and the rest of the bikes follow in the same pattern and spacing. On some roads the group may want to ride in single file. For example a narrow or winding or hilly road or when the visibility is poor. Obviously you want to give yourselves extra spacing in those situations.

Always avoid side by side riding if at all possible so you can make a sudden swerve to avoid an unexpected hazard.

Keep your eyes on the mirrors to make sure your group stays together.

Know where the next rest stop area is so if you do get separated you know where you will eventually catch up with everyone.

Always review the hand signals to be used so you know what is or will be happening in front of you.

Don’t ever feel you need to ride out of your comfort zone to keep up. It’s always best to drive within your abilities. You can always meet up later on down the road.

If you or your loved one has been injured, contact Stark & Stark today.

 

I was leafing through an old “Hog Tales” magazine from November/December 2004 and came upon an article about safe riding and the hidden dangers of the roads. The article titled Between the Lines, discusses ways to maintain your focus and improve your odds of avoiding a crash. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation ® (MSF) created  an acronym to help us stay sharp and focused while riding.

S.E.E. stands for Search, Evaluate, and Execute. 

SEARCH: as you ride, scan the area aggressively, including the areas along the road and behind you. Look under parked cars for legs and feet of children who might dart out between parked cars. Look for drivers in parked cars who might suddenly fling open their doors.  When you scan, keep your eyes moving. Don’t become fixed on any one object. Scan behind, alongside and well ahead of you so you have time to react before you reach a potential hazard.    

EVALUATE: Use what you see to evaluate the situation, predict unexpected events and challenges that may arise, and formulate strategies to deal with them.  Predict or anticipate what potential the hazards have. Is there a deer on the side of the road that might jump out in front of you? How critical is the hazard and how probable is a collision? Determine what you should do based on your prediction. Adjust your speed and position on the roadway if necessary. Time and space are critical to your analysis and safety. Know your bikes capabilities and your own so you make the best possible plan for action. Obviously you must also consider the condition of the roadway and the traffic when you analyze your options.

EXECUTE: Adjust your speed and positioning accordingly and communicate with your fellow riders. This is when you carry out your decision. Your riding skills are critical to carrying out any significant maneuver and are why we advocate that all riders continue to take training courses. The adjustment you make will depend upon how critical the hazard is and how much time and physical space you have.

By using the S.E.E. approach you will stay more alert, identify potential hazards, improve your ability to plan an escape, and be in the best position to execute the necessary maneuvers to prevent harm to you and others.

 

According to 6ABC.com news report: “A motorcyclist is dead and his wife is injured after an accident on the Black Horse Pike in Williamstown, New Jersey. The accident was reported at 8:44 a.m. at US 322 (Black Horse Pike) and Cains Mill Road. Police say a Chevy Silverado was traveling west on 322 and was making a left turn into the Wawa parking.

The motorcycle, occupied by a husband and wife, was traveling east on 322 when it struck the side of the pickup truck. Both the husband and wife were ejected from the motorcycle. The female passenger was flown to Cooper University Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.”

Left turn crashes are the most common motorcycle accidents we see at Stark & Stark. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are not seen by too many drivers as they scan the road ahead and determine they can make a left turn. The careless driver of the SUV received a traffic ticket but his actions have left an injured wife without a husband. To read the article, click here.

We represent too many women who are widows due to motorcycle crashes and too many riders who are injured because another driver was careless. We can often help collect medical bills, death benefits, lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of lifestyle. We search all possible avenues for fair and just compensation. But, sometimes the losses are forever. That is why we urge everyone to ride defensively, be alert for motorcycles, and share the road.  

At our most recent meeting of the Motorcycle Safety Coalition, Bill Turkus told us that 90% of motorcycle crashes involved a rider who never completed a Basic Rider training course. Learning to ride or to ride better than you do is critical to owning a motorcycle. If you have not done so I urge you to take a Basic Motorcycle Rider Course. One such course is given through Rider Education of New Jersey and information can be found here.

You can also take a look at the courses given at Fairleigh Dickinson University. http://view.fdu.edu   See also, http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/Licenses/njridesafe

Completing the course should be only your first step in learning to ride. I urge you to continually practice and sign up for additional courses. Learning to ride does not stop when you get your license. Once you have completed the Basic Rider Course consider taking the next level courses. Learn to be the best rider you can be. I am not promoting any particular programs. I only mention these three as examples of excellent programs. Of course, there are other programs available which you can find on the internet.

Please do your research, get properly trained and as the course founders and teachers will tell you, “Be a Lifelong Learner”!

Stark & Stark attorneys and staff participated in the Muscular Dystrophy Ride For Life XXVII on May 3rd and 4th   at the SteelStacks at ArtsQuest Campus in Bethlehem, PA.  Joel Rosenberg rode to the event with his HOG Chapter, Bucks County HOG. Our staff and attorneys met lots of great families and really enjoyed the activities and being part of such a worthwhile cause. The SteelStacks at ArtsQuest Campus is a very dramatic and very cool location. A great spot for photographers as well as bikes. On Sunday Joel and his wife, Rose, had a great ride through the countryside with their HOG group before heading home. On behalf of all of us at Stark & Stark we thank you for participating in this wonderful event. If you did not donate and would like to please go to www.mda.org.

The Ride for Life 27 was presented by the Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association, a group of 27 dealerships in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania and Southern New York. Through their efforts they raise more than $2,000,000 annually for various charitable organizations.

The MDA event helped raise funds for children and adults who are served by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. To learn more information about Ride for Life visit www.mdarideforlife.org.

Stark & Stark motorcycle attorneys and staff regularly attend and support charitable rides and events. We are happy to answer legal questions about any issues such as insurance, accidents, motorcycle crashes, medical bills or lost wages and salary.  If you have any questions about your motorcycle, auto or truck insurance feel free to email us or call. We find it most important to educate bikers and all drivers about the pitfalls they may face should they be injured in an accident. It is always best to be prepared so if the unexpected does occur you have the proper insurance coverages and know your rights.

May is motorcycle safety month. Please drive and ride safely and defensively.