Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists are at a greater risk of personal injury than drivers and passengers inside vehicles and trucks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the risk of death for every mile traveled on a motorcycle in 2017 was 27 times higher than the risk of death for traveling in an enclosed vehicle for that same year. That’s a staggering increase.
The personal injury attorneys at Joseph Joy and Associates in Lafayette convey this information in hopes that you can remain cautious while driving any type of vehicle. Be aware of other vehicles no matter the size. Because of their smaller size, motorcycles may not be as visible to motorists. If you or someone you love operates a motorcycle, it’s important to be aware of this increased risk and to avoid hazards, accidents and serious personal injury.
Just like a vehicle or truck, it’s illegal to operate a motorcycle while intoxicated in Louisiana and elsewhere. In 2018, national statistics show that 26 percent of riders that sustained fatal injuries had a blood-alcohol level greater than .08.
With the decreased visibility of motorcycles, it’s also common for collisions to take place where drivers fail to see the cyclist. It’s reported that 42% of accidents between a car and a motorcycle take place when the car is making a left-hand turn. Often, the car that initiated the turn will be at fault. However, should the motorcyclist be speeding, intoxicated, or driving recklessly, the compensation for injuries and damages sustained from the accident may be reduced. A qualified legal team like the one at Joseph Joy and Associates can evaluate the facts and liability.
Louisiana Motorcycle Safety Courses
If you operate a motorcycle in Louisiana, you can take motorcycle safety courses through the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, which emphasizes the proper techniques and attitudes that can help you stay safe on the road. The course can be found here.
Louisiana State Police offers a basic motorcycle safety course. It is described as a 15+ hour for the beginner or returning motorcyclist. Emphasis is placed on the physical skills, proper attitude and knowledge necessary for navigating safely in traffic. No prior riding experience is necessary. Course graduates are exempt from taking the riding and written tests when applying for a motorcycle endorsement. Department of Public Safety (DPS) training motorcycles are available for use in the course.
Louisiana Motorcycle Laws
Louisiana does not require a separate license to operate a motorcycle. Once an applicant proves he is qualified, a motorcycle endorsement is added to your existing Louisiana license. In order to obtain a motorcycle endorsement, bring your driver’s license, proof of residency and proof of insurance to a local Office of Motor Vehicles.
All applicants must successfully pass a vision test. Additional testing is based on whether the applicant has attended a motorcycle training safety course. Applicants who have successfully completed the “Department of Public Safety, Motorcycle Safety, Awareness and Operators Training Program.” on or after October 28, 2011 will be exempt from the knowledge and skills test. Any certificate with a course completion date prior to October 28, 2011 will exempt the applicant from the skills test requirement only.
A course schedule may be found at http://www.lsp.org/motorcycle.html Applicants may voluntarily participate in the program if they meet the qualifications of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to apply for a motorcycle operator’s endorsement. Applicants must provide the original certificate as proof of completion.
Applicants, which have not attended the course will be required to successfully pass the knowledge test and a road skills test. Applicants will be required to furnish the motorcycle used in the skills test. The motorcycle must have a current license plate, proof of current insurance and a current inspection sticker.Louisiana law is clear that all motorcyclists must wear a helmet. Below is a quick rundown of Louisiana motorcycle regulations.
LA Rev Stat § 32:190 Safety helmets
A. No person shall operate or ride upon any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle unless the person is equipped with and is wearing on the head a safety helmet of the type and design manufactured for use by operators of such vehicles, which shall be secured properly with a chin strap while the vehicle is in motion. All such safety helmets shall consist of lining, padding, visor, and chin strap and shall meet such other specifications as shall be established by the commissioner.
§190.1. Eye protective devices to be worn by motorcyclist; windshield on motorcycle
A. No person shall operate a motorcycle or motor driven cycle unless the person is wearing an eye protective device of a type approved for such use by the secretary, except when the motorcycle or motor driven cycle is equipped with a windshield of sufficient height to afford adequate eye protection that meets the requirements of R.S. 32:358.
B. The secretary shall approve only goggles, face shields, or safety glasses which will meet performance specifications established by him.
C. Eye protective devices used at night shall not be tinted.
D. This Section shall not apply to persons riding within an enclosed cab.
§191. Riding on motorcycles
A. A person operating a motorcycle shall ride only upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto. Such operator shall not carry any other person or child nor shall any other person or child ride on a motorcycle unless such motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, in which event a passenger may ride upon the permanent and regular seat if designed for two persons, or upon another seat firmly attached to the rear or side on the motorcycle.
B. A person shall ride upon a motorcycle only while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, with not more than one leg on each side of the motorcycle.
C. No person shall operate a motorcycle while carrying any package, bundle, or other article which prevents him from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
D. No operator shall carry any person or child nor shall any person or child ride in a position that will interfere with the operation or control of the motorcycle or the view of the operator.
E. No operator shall carry or transport an infant or child on a motorcycle who is required to be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat or a forward-facing child safety seat according to the provisions of R.S. 32:295. A child at least five years of age or older is only authorized to be a passenger on a motorcycle if such child is properly seated on the motorcycle and such child is wearing a safety helmet in accordance with the provisions of R.S. 32:190.
§191.1. Operating motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic
A. All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This Subsection shall not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane.
B. The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
C. No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
D. Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.
E. Subsections (B) and (C) shall not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.
Motorcycle accidents accounted for 10% of all motor vehicle deaths in Louisiana in 2018 and the number of non-fatal collisions is even greater. If you’ve been involved in an accident of any kind, or lost someone you love in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s important to secure legal representation for your case and the legal team at Joseph Joy and Associates has decades of experience litigating motor vehicle accidents. Call us at our Lafayette offices: 337-232-8123.