Avoiding Motorcycle Injuries in Louisiana
Driving a car or truck is nothing like riding a motorcycle. Each are entirely different tasks, requiring different skills and knowledge. The personal injury team at Joseph Joy and Associates did some research and found disappointing data from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission about the number of injuries and fatalities in Louisiana as a result of motorcycle-related accidents.
In 2018, 79 people were killed in crashes involving motorcycles. Last year, 87 people were killed and 78 fatalities are projected for 2020. Given the recent spike in highway accidents during the COVID-19 lockdown, our accident lawyers would not be surprised to see a spike in projected injuries and deaths.
All totaled, in 2020, the state agency is projecting that close to 1,200 people will be injured or killed in crashes involving a motorcycle in Louisiana That’s even with a projected 85.6% of motorcyclists wearing helmets. Helmets are vital protection but they can’t compensate for instances when someone else’s negligence creates a significant hazard.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the perfect time to remind cyclists to always wear a helmet. Not only is it the law in Louisiana, it could save your life or prevent a disabling brain injury. According to the Center for Disease Prevention, motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2016. If all motorcyclists would have worn helmets in 2016, 802 more could have been saved. Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37%.
In Louisiana, all motorcyclists must wear a helmet and protection for their eyes and faces.
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.
When buying a motorcycle helmet, make sure you get one that is properly sized to your head. Not your face. Your head. There are three shapes of heads: round oval, intermediate oval (which is the most common) and long oval. Don’t make any assumptions about the shape of your head. Look in a mirror or have someone at the top of your head to determine its shape. Your motorcycle helmet should feel a little snug, with even pressure around the circumference of your head. If your helmet moves when you shake your head, it’s either too big or you are not wearing it properly.
Be sure and have the proper licensing to operate a motorcycle in Louisiana. Although motorcycle-licensing regulations vary from state to state, all states require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver’s license.
Operating a Motorcycle in Louisiana
A separate license to operate a motorcycle is not issued in Louisiana. An endorsement is issued instead. Once an applicant proves he is qualified, a motorcycle endorsement is added to the existing Louisiana license.
Bring your driver’s license, proof of residency and proof of insurance to your Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles.
All applicants must successfully pass the vision exam. 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. The motorcycle study guide is available on our web site. 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. A motorcycle helmet is required for the skills test.
Motorcycle operators and vehicle operators owe it to each other to drive defensively and abide by safety rules. Drivers should always slow down and provide enough space for motorcyclists. Motorcyclists should follow the safety rules they learn in the training courses: don’t speed or weave in and out of traffic. Be careful of following vehicles in their blind spots. And no one operating a motor vehicle or motorcycle should ever do so under the influence of alcohol or other substance.
Should you or a loved one suffer personal injury in a motorcycle crash or vehicular accident, the personal injury attorneys at Joseph Joy and Associates can evaluate your case and pursue the compensation you deserve. Please call us for a free consultation at (337) 232-8123.