Recent NJ Motorcycle Accidents Highlight Need for Spring Riding Caution
Three New Jersey motorcycle accidents in March and April have left riders critically injured or dead. In each case, the accident was tragic and probably preventable. To make sure you stay safe on the road this spring and summer, we want to review these cases and present some safety reminders we hope will be helpful.
First, according to a March 1 article on patch.com, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office summarized a fatal accident as follows:
A 35-year-old Nutley man “was killed last night when his Harley Davidson motorcycle collided with a Nissan Rogue at approximately 7 p.m. The motorcycle was traveling north on East Passaic Avenue in Nutley. The driver of the car was preparing to turn into her driveway when the motorcycle driver lost control and struck the car, throwing the driver off the motorcycle. He was pronounced dead at University Hospital [in Newark].”
The report doesn’t present a complete picture, but the timing of the crash indicates it was more than an hour after sunset on a day with a high temperature of 38 degrees and precipitation described as a rain/snow mix leaving slick spots in some areas.
The second crash occurred 0n April 6, according to NJ1015.com:
“On Saturday evening after 6 p.m., [a] 72-year-old … Medford [man] was driving a 2011 Harley Davidson on Route 37 East in the center lane, according to Toms River Police, when he entered the intersection at Coolidge Ave against a red traffic signal. A 2015 Toyota Camry entered the intersection, headed south on Coolidge Ave. on the green signal ….”
The crash left the motorcyclist in critical condition. “Police said … possible sun glare may have been a contributing factor to the accident.”
Finally, patch.com reports that a motorcyclist was critically injured on Sunday afternoon, April 7. The 37-year-old rider “was driving his 2015 Honda VT7 on Route 46 East near Fette Ford in Clifton when he lost control of the motorcycle, and he was thrown from it, said Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes.” Police said no other vehicles were involved.
Without having all the facts, it’s impossible to say definitively what went wrong for these riders. But the few facts we do have suggests certain safety precautions that riders in New Jersey must keep in mind.
- Winter weather is hazardous for motorcycle riding — Winter weather might have been a factor in the fatal March 1 crash, when the rider lost control of his bike. Riding after dark on a day when frozen precipitation could have produced treacherous, invisible icy patches was not prudent.
- Riding skills erode during down time — Two of the crashes occurred when the rider lost control of the bike. Loss of control crashes happen for a few reasons: alcohol or drug impairment, sleepiness, distraction, road hazards, or lack of skill. That last factor is key, because New Jersey is not a state for four-season biking. Winter in the Garden State generally means the bike spends three to four months in the garage. Riders have to be conscious of the fact that they could be rusty during early spring rides. Riders have to go back to basics and do a little spring training before they take on long or technically difficult rides.
- Twilight can be deadly — The hours around sunrise and sunset are the most challenging from a standpoint of visibility. The low-hanging sun can blind riders and motorists, who then have difficulty seeing an oncoming bike. Initial facts seem to support that this is what happened to the motorcyclist who ran the red light. Low light can also make it difficult to perceive obstacles in the road, particularly New Jersey’s world-renowned potholes.
- Spring is a bad time for New Jersey roads — As our previous comment indicates, there are potholes aplenty in New Jersey roads, especially in early spring before the road crews get out to repair the winter damage. This is all the more reason to take things slow and avoid riding at night or at high speeds until you have surveyed the route.
Bikers in New Jersey also sustain serious injuries in crashes caused by negligent drivers. If you have been injured due to someone’s unsafe or illegal maneuver, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers are prepared to help. Call us at 973-364-8300 or contact our office online.