Unsafe Lane Changes Can be Fatal to Motorcyclists

Posted by: Kemmy Law Firm

On June 10, a motorcyclist changed lanes and collided with a truck on E. Loop 250 in Midland, TX. The Midland Police Department and emergency services were called to the scene where the motorcyclist was pronounced dead. This tragedy is a reminder that motorcycle riders are at a disadvantage to cars and trucks even in the best of conditions. Unsafe lane changes and other risky maneuvers can lead to catastrophic injuries and death.

If you lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident, and there’s evidence another motorist was at fault, contact Kemmy Law Firm. Our motorcycle accident attorneys have over 5 decades of experience representing surviving relatives in wrongful death cases.

You can reach out online or call (210) 735-2233 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.

Why Are Unsafe Lane Changes So Dangerous for Motorcycles?

Motorcyclists are at a disadvantage on the road. Passengers in cars and trucks are protected by a network of metal, plastic, crumple zones, airbags, and safety belts. Motorcyclists don’t have the same protection. While riders might wear an approved helmet and other high-tech safety gear, their body can’t compete with the weight and impact of a vehicle.

The result of the difference between motorcyclists and vehicle passenger safety is that per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely than passengers to die in traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite motorcycles representing 3% of registered motor vehicles, motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic-related deaths.

Motorcycle safety is a particular concern in the Odessa District, which has seen a rise in total crashes. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot), total crashes in the Odessa District rose 67% from 2016 to 2018, with fatalities up 97%. Commercial motor vehicles related to oil and gas production make up a large part of this increase, but motorcycles and passenger vehicles aren’t immune. Motorcyclists have to be careful around the increased commercial truck traffic.

What Is an Unsafe Lane Change?

Changing lanes safely requires drivers, whether in a car or motorcycle, to determine if a vehicle is in the other lane and close by. It’s crucial that motorists check their blind spots by making a glance over their shoulder.

A safe lane change requires using a signal. On motorcycles, this could mean a blinking rear light. But if the motorcycle doesn’t have working blinkers, motorcyclists must use hand signals.

Vehicles need to move from one lane to another slowly and consistently. Moving too quickly, particularly in bad weather, could cause a driver or motorcyclist to lose control. They also should only change lanes one at a time. If a motorist needs to cross two or more lanes of traffic, they need to have patience. It’s not safe to move diagonally across multiple lanes of traffic.

An unsafe lane change involves:

  • Failing to check the other lane for vehicles
  • Failing to check blind spots
  • Failing to use a light or hand signal
  • Moving too quickly
  • Moving across two more lanes in one motion

Motorists who make an unsafe lane change might collide with another vehicle, push the other vehicle into another lane of traffic, or push the other vehicle off the road. In some scenarios, the other vehicle has to slam on their brakes, which could cause the vehicle behind them to rear-end them or swerve.

Unsafe Lane Change Examples

  • A motorist signals and moves into another lane of traffic without checking his mirrors or looking over his shoulder.
  • A motorist checks her mirrors before changing lanes but forgets to check her blind spot.
  • A motorist makes a quick glance over his shoulder but doesn’t signal the lane change.
  • A motorist checks traffic and uses her turn signal but moves across two lanes of traffic.

How Motorcyclists Can Avoid Accidents

The NHTSA encourages motorcyclists to ride defensively. It’s up to riders to avoid careless drivers and potentially dangerous situations.

Motorcycle riders have to use an abundance of caution, particularly during high-risk maneuvers like lane changes, merges, left turns, and uncontrolled intersections. Riders should always leave plenty of room between themselves and other vehicles, check behind themselves, and signal before changing lanes.

Call Kemmy Law Firm After a Motorcycle Crash

When a careless driver is the reason, you’re mourning a loved one, talk with a wrongful death attorney at Kemmy Law Firm. We are experienced in handling fatal accident claims and we maintain an office in the Midland-Odessa area. We’ll talk with you about what happened, explain Texas wrongful death law, and advise you on who could bring a valid claim.

We’ll also explain how we can help by tracking the bills and expenses arising from your loved one’s death, calculating the value of your family’s claim, and negotiating an appropriate settlement. To learn more about our legal services, call (210) 735-2233 or use our online form to set up your free initial consultation.

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When you work with us at Kemmy Law Firm, you are working with a family run firm with more than 50 years of combined experience. We are dedicated and successful trial attorneys practicing in West TX, Hobbs, NM, Midland-Odessa, and across the Permian Basin. Our team handles everything from catastrophic injury claims to complex business matters. We are here to fight for you. We dedicate our time and attention to your case and use every resource available to maximize your claim and obtain the best possible outcome.