Fatal MountainFest Motorcycle Crash in West Virginia — Why Riders are Vulnerable
A recent fatal crash in West Virginia sadly highlights the vulnerability of motorcyclists who enjoy West Virginia’s winding roads.
Peter E. Rezuke, 51 of Holden in Massachusetts died instantly in a head on collision on Chaplin Road in Morgantown. Police said his Harley Davidson skidded into the path of a Dodge Neon at the end of last month, the News Telegram reported.
His cousin Edward Rezuke Jr. described him as an “avid biker” who had travelled to MountainFest from Massachusetts on his motorcycle. MountainFest is one of the biggest events for riders on West Virginia’s calendar. It was attended by as many as 60,000 bikers.
Police said Peter E. Rezuke was in a line of about five motorcycles leaving the festival when the slippery condition of the roads following a thunderstorm caused him to lose control of his bike. Police said he crossed the center line in a skid and drove into oncoming traffic, colliding with James Miller of Salem, who was driving the Dodge Neon. Miller was treated for minor injuries.
This tragic crash again highlights how a single collision can often prove to be fatal for motorcyclists.
During the recession motorcycles became more popular. Motorcycles cost less to run than cars, but the price in terms of injuries and fatalities has risen across the country.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 4 million motorcycles registered in the United States. Although this is just 2 percent of registered vehicles, motorcycle fatalities represent about five percent of all road deaths in the United States.
“One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes is because the motorcycle itself provides virtually no protection in a crash. For example, approximately 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death; a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20 percent,” states the NHTSA.
Crashes involving motorcycles result in the most serious kinds of injuries I see as a West Virginia accident injury lawyer. Even at low speeds motorcyclists can suffer from traumatic brain and spinal injuries, broken limbs, amputations, and very often, death. Statistics have shown that motorcycle accident victims are 32 times more likely to die then automobile accident victims.
Motorcyclists are often struck by car and truck drivers who fail to see them. This is particularly true when the automobile driver is making a turn.
According to federal statistics, the scenario in which a car or truck driver is turning left is the single most dangerous threat for motorcyclists, accounting for 42 percent of all motorcycle accidents.
Although the risks of the road are exacerbated when you are riding a motorcycle, there are some basic tips you can take to safeguard yourself:
- Wear a Helmet : West Virginia has a mandatory helmet law but there are other good reasons to wear helmets. In a safety manual the NHTSA states: “Safety helmets save lives by reducing the extent of head injuries in the event of a crash. Many good helmets are available.” You should look for the DOT label on the helmet that shows it conforms to the federal standard
- Wear Protective Clothing and Equipment : Studies indicate that the head, arms and legs are most often injured in motorcycle crashes. Protective clothing can shield you from the weather while reflective material helps other motorists see motorcyclists.
- Take a Course : A motorcyclist should attend a motorcycle rider-training course to learn the basics of how to safely and skillfully operate a motorcycle and to learn about dangerous places such as intersections.
- Know Your Limits : Don’t start out with a bike that’s too heavy to handle. But smaller bikes (e.g., a 125cc machine) may lack the speed, performance and ride you’ll need if you plan to travel long distances.
- Be Careful About Passengers : Riding with a passenger requires even more skill than riding alone. You should be an experienced rider before you take a passenger on the back of your bike. Injured passengers can often claim on the insurance policy of the rider.
- Leave Enough Space: One of the biggest mistakes motorcycle riders make is not to leave enough distance to stop. Always stick to speed limits. Even at low speeds a collision can cause serious injuries to a motorcyclist or prove to be fatal.
- Watch the Weather : It’s more important to watch out for bad weather if you are riding a motorcycle. You should never ride just after a storm starts. When rain first hits the road, it brings up other liquids such as oils, making the road extremely slippery if you are on two wheels.
Free consultation with a West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney
If you have been injured on a motorcycle, contacting an experienced West Virginia motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident can help you preserve evidence and protect you from aggressive insurance adjusters who will try to record your statement before you have a chance to consult with an attorney. At West Law Firm, we offer free consultations. To speak with an experienced West Virginia injury attorney, call us toll free at 1-877-943-9378.
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.