Increasing number of crashes and fatalities in Leesburg, Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties; Inexperience Considered One Factor in Bikers’ deaths

Motorcycles parked across from the Loudoun County Court House in Leesburg, Virginia
Motorcycles parked across from the Loudoun County Court House in Leesburg, Virginia

A spate of fatal bike crashes has recently been reported just as our law firm gears up for our Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals arguments in our catastrophic accident case.  Last year, deaths on the highway fell in almost every category except accidents involving motorcycles.  “With the traffic being what it is in this area, inexperienced motorcyclists are particularly likely to get into trouble,” said Capt. Susan Culin, who commands the traffic division of the Fairfax County Police Department.

For the most part, motorcycle riders die for the same reasons that people who are driving vehicles with four wheels die: inexperience, alcohol, miscalculation and inattention to the road. But a motorcycle tends to be less forgiving than a car on all four of those counts.  Motorcyclists, like bicyclists, also are more vulnerable to mistakes by other drivers. And, like pedestrians and bicyclists, they are less visible than cars and sport-utility vehicles.  “There are so many more trucks and SUVs,” said Pete terHorst of the American Motorcyclist Association. “Are you more likely to be killed in a crash with an SUV or with a [Honda] Civic hybrid?”

Motorcycle fatalities fell during the 1970s.  Pressure from the Federal government persuaded all but three states to require helmets. Many states have since rescinded that mandate.  Presently, just 20 states, including Virginia, Maryland and the District require helmets for all motorcycle riders.  Interestingly, three out of four motorcycle fatalities involving another vehicle occur when the other vehicle makes a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle, said Patricia A. Turner, who studies motorcycle accidents for the Texas Transportation Institute.  According to Herndon trial attorney Doug Landau, making a  left turn is one of the more dangerous maneuvers for drivers on the road.  The Loudoun and Fairfax bike and car crash lawyer notes that this is why the the turning vehicle should yield the right of way.   Virginia bike and motorcycle accident lawyer Landau notes that turning cars are also required to pay full time and attention to two-wheeled and four-wheeled traffic in both directions.

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