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Road Departure — Biker’s Beware

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for motorcycleriderleg.jpegAnother terrible outcome for a biker in a road departure crash — this time in Cherokee County, Georgia. A young adult was killed earlier this week after his bike left the road and hit a utility pole. This tragic accident occurred Wednesday around 11:45 in the morning on Epperson Road.

I have written in the past about the dangers inherent in road departure crashes, both when driving a vehicle or riding a bike. This type of crash is generally very dangerous and many bikers have lost their lives or been seriously injured this way. Over the past two decades in my Atlanta motorcycle injury law practice, I have studied road departure dangers for bikers.

In this situation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was present on the scene and performing CPR at the time the emergency services responders came on the scene. The man could not be saved and passed away at the scene. He was only 21 years old. This accident is still under investigation so we don’t know what caused the crash.

What we do know is that road departure crashes are a serious hazard for bikers and other vehicles. The Federal Highway Administration’s Roadway Departure Safety Program provides important information for transportation practitioners, decision makers, and others to help prevent and reduce the severity of roadway departure crashes. The statistics on road departure crashes are startling. In 2011, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 15,307 fatal roadway departure crashes. These crashes caused even more fatalities totaling 16,948. Road departure crashes account for over 50 percent of the fatal crashes in America. Roadway departure crashes are frequently severe and account for the majority of highway fatalities.

These crashes are defined as a non-intersection crash occurring after a vehicle crosses an edge line or a center line, or otherwise leaves the traveled roadway. There are many causes of these crashes. Sometimes speed is a factor, but there are many other reasons these crashes happen. A driver or biker may try to avoid something in the road and loses control or perhaps that driver or biker is taking a curve with greater speed than road conditions will allow.

Our Federal Highway Administration Roadway Departure Team has just issued a strategic plan to lower the number of fatalities from road departure crashes. Their intention is to provide leadership in the highway community to reduce the risk of roadway departure fatal and serious injury crashes from occurring. The primary leadership role is with the engineering community and includes “developing, evaluating, and deploying life-saving countermeasures and promoting data-driven application of safety treatments.” The goal of this work is to reduce national roadway departure fatalities by at least 500 per year “from the existing 17,000 per year to 8,500 per year by the year 2030.”

Please contact me at my law firm if you have any questions about a bike accident in which you have been injured. I am happy to talk with you about your legal rights at no charge to you or your family. Please ride safe and sound.