Recent Fatality Crash in Las Vegas Highlights the Need for Motorcycle Awareness

Riding a motorcycle on road

Motorcycle accidents are a common and deadly problem across the United States. Motorists in Nevada have a responsibility to help prevent motorcycle accidents and can do so by taking proactive steps with their driving behaviors. Likewise, motorcyclists can take steps to protect their own safety by adhering to traffic laws and wearing helmets when they ride.

Recent Collision Kills Young Motorcyclist

In April, a 19-year-old died in a collision with a Chevrolet Trailblazer while riding his 2005 Kawasaki motorcycle. Emergency responders attempted to revive Jacob Graf, but his injuries were too severe and he died at the scene. This is the 30th traffic fatality in Las Vegas this year and highlights the importance of motorcycle safety throughout Nevada.  

Motorcycle Safety Facts

In 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents. While a slight decrease from the 5,038 who died in 2018, it is clear that much more needs to be done to prevent motorcycle accident fatalities in the United States.

For every mile driven, motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident, and 4 times more likely to suffer serious personal injuries than occupants of passenger cars. Usually, when motorcycle accidents occur, it is because the driver of the passenger vehicle was distracted or didn’t see the motorcyclist. This is a critical detail and highlights the importance of monitoring blind spots, which are a common contributing factor to motorcycle collisions.

Nationwide, only about 71% of motorcyclists wear DOT-compliant helmets. In Nevada, all motorcyclists are required by law to wear a helmet when operating a vehicle with more than two horsepower that can travel faster than 30 mph. Even with the knowledge that helmets save lives, helmet use has declined significantly across the United States.

Alcohol consumption continues to be a significant contributing factor in motorcycle accidents. In 2019, 29% of motorcycle drivers were intoxicated at the time of a fatal crash. This is 9% higher than the number of passenger vehicle operators and 10% higher than for drivers of light trucks.

May Is Motorcycle Awareness Month

Motorists in Nevada can do their part to protect motorcyclists throughout the state. As the weather warms up and more people hit the roads, staying alert and taking proactive steps can ensure everyone’s safety. To that end, there are some basic things that every motorist should do on every trip they take down the road.

Drivers should pay particular attention at intersections where oncoming traffic, street lights, signs, and other obstructions can obscure the field of vision. It is also important to avoid distractions at intersections such as eating, drinking, adjusting vehicle controls, etc. Changing channels on the radio, engaging in conversation, and other habits common while stopped at stoplights and stop signs can easily distract a driver. Thus, it is best to simply avoid distractions.

Motorists should also allow at least one full lane width for their vehicle and any motorcycle and should never share a lane with a motorcyclist. Drivers should also avoid following too closely behind a motorcycle. This allows both to safely maneuver and helps protect motorcyclists against rear-end collisions. It also reduces the risks of sideswipes and other types of accidents on Nevada roads that can cause serious injury or death to motorcyclists or occupants of passenger vehicles.

Further, drivers should overestimate the amount of space needed because the motorcycle’s short stature makes it easy to miscalculate the motorcycle’s speed and distance from a passenger vehicle, truck, etc. At a minimum, motorists should keep at least 3-4 seconds of travel time between their vehicle and a motorcycle, however, this should be increased on mountain roads and when poor road conditions are present.

As always, proper signaling is essential. Signals should be initiated for all lane changes and turns long before the move is made. This gives any following motorcyclist plenty of time to slow down, change lanes, etc. The more advanced notice given before a maneuver, the less likely a collision is to occur.  

Motorcyclists should also adhere to the same advice and should take additional precautions to protect themselves on the road. This includes wearing leathers and other gear that can help protect them against degloving and other serious injuries. This includes wearing reflective strips that enhance their visibility to motorists.

Motorcyclists should avoid riding in snow or rain and should make sure that wheels, brakes, lights, and other components are in good condition and working order. And, while tempting, wide-open roads throughout the state are not an invitation to speed. Motorcycle riders should always adhere to speed limits and should adjust their driving behaviors in heavy traffic conditions, poor weather conditions, and when road conditions make it unsafe to travel at the posted speed limit.